I Unlearnt Misogyny, And I Hope You Do Too

Picture of a stone wall against the backdrop of mountains at sunrise

When I was young, just starting to understand the world

I learnt to dislike features of my body

I wanted to be a particular height

Not too long, not too short either

Just exactly like the image 

Of the princesses

I yearned for an hourglass body image

I wanted my eyes to be blue

My skin colour fair

That's the shade I had coloured all the pretty barbie girls in

In all my colouring books since kindergarten

Of course, that was my definition of beautiful

I learned wanting to be soft-spoken 

Even when my mind revolted

I was bustling with so many ideas

How could I learn to subside the storms in my soul?

But you see, I was taught to be a 'good' girl

And 'good' girls didn't answer back 

They didn't raise their voices

'Good' girls tolerated, they kept quiet

They suffered so they could keep their societies together

They sacrificed their careers, everything they stood up for

When it was time for marriage

My society idealized obedience and conformity

I grew up not wanting to be happy or ambitious or successful

Instead, my teenage was a lot about being the perfect ideal of beauty

Looking down upon girls who were comfortable with sexuality

It took education, awareness, unlearning, years of it

To dismantle it bit by bit

To consciously unlearn the misogyny I had internalised

Before I could even begin to appreciate the idea

Of loving myself

I learnt that bodies are different

To decide that I won't let

The hourglass image become my truth

That I could be successful and ambitious

And not feel guilty for it

It took time to be comfortable in my skin

To love the brown on my hands and legs

To be comfortable with hair on my body

To unlearn the need to wax

Whenever I wanted to wear shorts

To be comfortable in wearing a swimsuit

To unlearn that how I dressed

Was a label on how I wanted to be looked at

To take a stand

To speak up

To be a feminist not just in my head

But especially in settings where casual misogyny

Was normalised

To call out sexism in my circles

To stand for what I believed in

It took time, a lot of it

And I'm still unlearning at 20

So I share this story today

With every young girl out there

Who will be told that her bust needs to be a particular size

Her skin a shade fairer

Who'll be given a label meter

To judge her skin colour

I say this to you

When they attempt to give you the rulebook

The Dos and Don'ts on how to feel about your body

I hope you chuck it in the bin

And I hope you let no one tell you

Who you can and cannot be

It's a big wide world out there

And it's all yours to be 

I hope amidst all this noise

That gets louder every day

You still listen to your voice

That tells you, it loves you

And roots for you, throughout the way.