I grew up as a little girl afraid of her own power, potential, and passions.
I learned that certain spaces, trades, activities, and hobbies were for me, and some were for “other kinds of women.” Your predetermined path was based on your looks alone, whether that be race or size, but never on your natural desires that ignited your spark.
I became accustomed to never questioning this process or these rules because the one thing that was true amongst all women was that we could not inquire about anything, even if it dictated our lives and choices. Following this, my next step was to learn to shame and judge the women who trampled on these rules—to see them as problems.
I grew into a young lady sick of segregation amongst sisters. I become tired of following rules that I didn’t set for myself—rules I didn’t understand and was constantly denied an explanation to. Any questions I posed about why another woman couldn’t do something I could and vice versa, resulted in the response of one of us women not being enough of something.
I became a woman when I decided that we were all more than enough.
I realized that no matter what category we were grouped into, each of us would always be scrutinized for “not being enough” in one way or another. Enduring shame and judgement was the price we paid for being women, whether we played by the rules or not.
I became a strong woman when I chose to leave the game; I decided that the game that puts women in competition with each other and makes decisions for them about who they can and cannot be is one that none of us signed up for.
This is a time of change.
I am opening the door to my designated space and welcoming in all women that wish to be here, regardless of the aforementioned rules. This is for women that showed me it was possible to do that, and turned me into a woman of fire that refuses to follow anything other than her own rule-breaking heart.
This is an ode to the women before me who’ve made room for themselves.
This is a thank you to the women who’ve said yes in spaces clearly marked no.
This is a celebration of the women who have excused themselves as they’ve pushed their way through “keep out” signs. Trespassing, my ass.
Introducing: the fat yoginis.
The women who know their health and physical abilities aren’t solely defined by their weight.
The women who have had no problem setting their mat and sweat towels in the front row between two size two Lululemon ladies.
The fat woman who held her handstand in the middle of the room in class this morning while everyone else clung to the wall.
The women who need no other reason to justify why they do what they do other than because they f*cking want to and they can.
I know you know this, but let me remind you that you deserve to take up space.
Introducing: the natural-haired black women.
The women who refuse to be told that the way their hair naturally grows from their scalp isn’t beautiful enough.
The women who flip two birds to people that say curly hair only works if it’s “not nappy,” or better yet “if it’s on white or mixed girls.”
The women who take pride in the fact their curls are their breathing ancestors spiraling to the heavens.
The women who know their gravity-defying curls are the house of black-girl beauty reclamation, and refuse to let ignorance break and enter.
I know you know this, but let me remind you that you deserve to block peoples’ view with your afro.
Women who have aborted children for their own reasons and decided that was good enough and there’s no room for shame here.
Women who have had babies “too young” and are doing incredible jobs, but will never have their work honored because of age.
Women who have found their way out of mentally, physically, or verbally abusive situations and instead of letting that define them, rebuild their self-worth and started again.
Women who have made mistakes and forgive themselves because they deserve to.
Women who boldly love themselves too f*cking much and then some more.
Women who wake up and can’t find a single reason to love themselves, but find every reason to love others. (Keep working mama, your self-love is in there, invite it to speak to you. Give it a voice.)
Women who are deliciously, passionately, glowingly, unapologetically women, and define that term for themselves because they know that their womanhood is theirs and theirs alone.
Queens: this is for you. I pray to you. I salute you. I bow down to you because you have made room for me, too, and I carry the gratitude of all the world’s survivors.
And let’s not forget that this is for the women that have come after, and have dared to walk in their footsteps.
Because what is the initial push without the follow through?
Just as the women who come after are nothing without the women who came before, the women who make room are nothing without the goddesses who continue to fill the spaces.
Author: Anisa Flowers
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Author’s own