Essay: Do you know how tiring it is to be a girl?
Artwork ⬝ Juliana Hellmuth
Do you know how tiring it is to be a girl?
To be forced by your mother to wear that tube top because it’s “feminine,” but she doesn’t understand how you don’t like the stares and compliments from 47-year old uncles on how cute you look?
To be told at 7-years old how “boys will be boys” after they force a kiss on you and you have to suck it up? However, that comes back at you in the future in the form of sexual assault, and what they don’t realize is that was the same force they tolerated years ago because “boys will be boys”.
Do you know how tiring it is to truly realize that you’re a woman?
To discover blood on your underwear at 11 years old and think you’re dying, but it’s worse—a life-long sentence.
To realize you have to bleed for 3-7 days for every single fucking month of your life, and it’s so painful sometimes that you can only curl and cry from the pain? Then, to have men in administrative positions to tell you that you should have been used to it by then, so suck it up and go to work?
Do you know how tiring it is to be a woman?
To lie down, no matter how fully clothed you are, and for men to think it is an invitation for your safe space to be invaded? But when you open up to someone about it, their sugarcoated questions and advice can only be summarized into “Maybe you suggested it.”
To never have an appropriate way to celebrate your body because you’re too fat or too thin?
To realize that the amount of fabric you cover yourself with is equivalent to the amount of respect that people think they can “rightfully” give you?
To celebrate your body in private instead, but they still invade it by having your ex send your nudes to his friends, and it ends up in the worst hands where they try to extort you and shame you for it?
To be told at 22-years old, your time is running out, and you have to spit out babies as soon as you can, or it will be too late because they think you’re never truly a woman until you become a mother?
And do you how tiring it is to be a mother?
To carry another being in your womb while your body physically, emotionally, and mentally changes while the father of that child stays the same?
To spit out a 7 lbs. baby out of your vagina, but they still expect you to look pristine and shame you for your swollen feet, stretch marks, and stitches?
To have your baby clamp its teeth down on your nipples and cry out of pain, then they say you’re just overreacting because “it can’t hurt that bad?”
Being a woman entails continuously looking for the right place for you, and somehow, it seems nothing you do will ever be enough.
Too covered up? You’re a prude.
Too revealing? You’re a slut.
You were raped? Then, what were you wearing?
Menstrual cramps? Drink a painkiller, and don’t be absent.
Angry? You must be on your period.
He cheated on you? You must not be satisfying him enough.
Your shouts and tears somehow always fall on deaf ears and then they blame it on your hormones.
But as a woman, I know something that they don’t.
Do they realize that it takes excellent STRENGTH to be a woman?
It’s the kind of strength that flows with the raging river and somehow flourishes wherever it ends up.
It’s the kind of strength that a frail flower has to survive a storm and still blooms brighter on its first glimpse of the sun.
It’s the kind of strength that knows to trust its instinct after thousands of years of evolution because she knows it’s right, and it’s not “just nonsense.”
It’s the strength that can achieve the same amount of work—that men do—while bleeding out of our vagina.
It’s the kind of strength that you can’t imagine because your intelligence and empathy are too limited for that, and you refuse to educate yourself.
I wrote this, and I painted it because time and time again, a new group chat and Twitter account emerges with intimate photos of women and telling them they deserve to be exposed because they took the picture in the first place.
As I said, it’s as if there’s never a right way to celebrate our bodies.
But whoever you people are, you don’t deserve women and not only because you keep on disrespecting us, but because you don’t deserve the strength that we have.
You’re too weak for that.
We survive the shitload of bullshit that life gives us while we celebrate in heels, frilly dresses, and our fists in the air.
And I’ll sleep soundly knowing you’ll never understand what it means to be a woman.