Things My World Tells Me

Sometimes, I get busy thinking and then my head gets really buzzy and I can’t fall asleep and I can tell my insomnia’s kicking in and it’s going to be a long night.

I was thinking about objectification, and that started a veritable fountain of ever-darkening thoughts, until my body was so tense it made my muscles ache and I was biting my tongue to keep from screaming. I began crumbling under a thousand pressures, a thousand voices, each telling me how I needed to be, what I needed to do, what I should look like, talk like, act like, that I would always be too much, that I would never be enough.

How does one compete with all of that?

My world tells me I’m worthwhile only insofar as other people find me appealing, find me attractive. To find my worth, my world tells me, I must dress such-and-such a way, but never dress that way. I should wear yoga pants and low-cut shirts, but I must be okay with the demeaning labels that go along with those things. I should cover up my body, I should show off my body. I will be criticized and told I am doing the wrong thing no matter what I do. Yoga pants make me a slut. An oversize sweater and baggy pants makes me a prude, or a dude. I am supposed to claim my individuality, but only within the parameters my world sets. I shouldn’t make myself up, but a lack of makeup also indicates a lack of polish and poise. I should be thin, but I can be called a “skinny bitch” for being thin. I should be thin, but I should have curves. I should have an ample chest and an attractive ass. My skin should be flawless. God forbid my hair be anything less than magazine-glossy. My teeth should be perfectly straight and white. “Be proud of who you are!” but only do that by meeting IMPOSSIBLE beauty standards. There are perfect women on every television screen, in every magazine, plastered all over the internet. They are airbrushed and photoshopped to nearly-alien levels of beauty and perfection. Why don’t you look like that, the world tells me. This is what you should be. What are you doing wrong?

How does one compete with all of that?

My work ethic is of little consequence. My intelligence is overlooked, ignored, denied. I am blonde, so of course anything I say or think is unimportant. Worse, my degrees are in English and theatre. There’s no way she’s smart, not with those degrees. If I had studied chemistry, which I had considered, I would be faced with stereotypes on the other end of the spectrum. She’s a woman, so her chemistry degree is worth less. She didn’t do the same work, oh no, because she’s a woman. She can’t be that smart. My IQ places me firmly in the upper extremes of intellect. This is of little importance to my world. You, my world tells me, are prettier with your mouth closed. This should matter because it is most important that I look my prettiest at all times.

My worth lies in my appearance, my attractiveness to others. I should be perpetually sexually available, I should never say no, should never turn anyone down (because if I do, I’m doing it purposely to injure someone else’s self-esteem and not out of my own autonomous desire not to be intimate with that person)…but God forbid I ever enjoy sex. What a slut. I should be virginal, because men don’t like experienced women…but, the world reminds me, as if I had forgotten, you must always be sexually available. What a tease. All women are less-than. You exist, my world tells me, for the pleasure of others. You do not exist for yourself.

My feelings are incorrect. I am wrong, always. When my reactions are not the desired reactions, when my thoughts or emotions are inconvenient to another, it is because I am wrong. I made a mistake. I am overreacting. I am being irrational. I am being crazy. It is your fault, after all, the world says, because who told you that you were entitled to feel anything other than how we tell you to feel?

I should find a good man and settle down. Good luck, the world says, because men will only want you if you can achieve everything we’ve discussed above. You must be perfect. You must be both sides of the coin. You must be a paradox.

I should have children. My worth in life, once my physical attractiveness blanches, is based on bringing other beings into the world. It will be found only in a thankless life as a mother. If I do not have children, I will neither be a real adult, nor a real woman. My life is not my own.

How does one compete with all of that?

My world tells me I will never be enough, and I will always be too much. You are less-than, it reminds me. Less than perfect, less than the men around you, less than the other women around you, less than human.

Well then, I tell my world, raising the middle fingers on both hands, I will make a better world.