"For The Girl"
This is for the girl who is told her favorite color is too girly,
Who is teased for her sparkly headbands and has her dolls thrown in the mud by boys
With breath that smells like Twizzlers and apple juice.
This is for the girl who is told “only BOYS like blue”
Who is teased for her ponytail and has her matchbox cars thrown in the mud by boys
With breath that smells like cotton candy and Kool-Aid.
This is for the girl who spends twenty minutes dragging thick pencils along her eyelids
And around the lines of her lips, who powders and plumps and contours and is told that
Boys don’t like girls who wear too much make up
As if she plucks the strays hair around her darkened eyebrows to please boys.
This is for the girl who rolls out of bed and pulls on her pants, who spends just enough time
In the bathroom to brush her teeth and run her fingers through her hair and who is told that
Boys don’t like girls who wear no make up
As if her only purpose is the please boys.
This is for the girl who pinches her stomach and slaps her thigh,
Who thinks that for every inch between them, another person will look at her and say:
But that person still won’t be her.
This is for the girl who strokes her stomach and caresses her thigh,
Who thinks that for every part of her that touches, another person will look at her and say:
But that person still won’t be her.
This is for the girl who can’t find herself on TV and in movies,
Who searches and searches but finds no one the same shade of charcoal.
And this is for the girl who wears her hijab not because she’s oppressed,
But because she’s free,
Who keeps her gaze fixed straight ahead as ignorance follows in her footfalls,
Who washes the spit of a yellow-toothed man from her clothes who told her to
“Go back home”
When she was born here.
This is for the girl who wakes up at five every morning
Who dresses and irons and fixes a bowl of cereal for one as the other suckles from her breast
But still makes it to work a half hour before the men
Who make one dollar for every seventy eight—sixty three—fifty four cents she does.
And this is for the girl who makes peanut butter sandwiches
And carpools her three kids to soccer practice and brings cookies to the PTA bake sale,
Who greets her husband at the door with a kiss on the cheek and a “how was your day?”
And wipes lipstick stains from the cooking wine and her son's Ritalin in fear of having
People find out the answer to the question he never returns: “how was yours?”
This is for the girl who feels wrong in her body,
Who knows that somewhere, a mistake was made,
That she’s supposed to have long, flowing hair that tickles the small of her back as she walks
And full, round breasts like fresh fruit;
Not the short, chopped locks her parents make her wear
And a penis.
This is for the tall girl, flat and narrow and gangly,
Who spends her days trying to make herself curvy and rounded and ample and short.
This is for the short girl, curvy and rounded and ample,
Who spends her days trying to make herself flat and narrow and gangly and tall.
This is for the girl who is unashamed of her sexual appetite,
Who keeps herself, prizes herself, and knows sharing is not the same as giving.
This is for the girl who has decided to wait,
Who keeps herself, prizes herself, and knows giving is not the same as sharing.
This is for the girl who drives herself to the clinic because he denies it,
Says he used a condom,
Says she must have been with someone else,
Who is told her baby has fingernails and hair and loves her, even when she feels nothing for it
But runs nonetheless.
And this is for the girl who goes in anyway.
This is for the girl with shoulders,
The girl with legs,
The girl with breasts,
The girl with thighs,
The girl who is told to cover herself as to not distract the boys in her class,
The girl who learned that her education is worth less than a boy’s comfort.
This is for the girl that is too smart,
Too soft spoken,
This is for the girl that is everyone,
And this is for the girl that is you.