“Guys like a woman of your size”
He put a hand on my thigh.
“You got hair like fire, and your calves – have I mentioned?
Put them side by side…I bet they’re bigger than mine!”
I should’ve charged you for your time but
I thought you were a friend
but here I’ve got a body, so here
Add this to a series called “Being Female.”
I told a snip-it to my girl and her eyes went wild,
“Fuck this, fuck that,” she went on in comfort,
and she said the words I should have said
the ones that ran through my head when I was lying in bed,
picturing his square little head
and the “A” he got on his test because I
have a mind
and a shit ton of generosity,
and how does he repay me? He picks apart my body.
He’s just one guy, but these memories have cousins, like two guys on the bus and
college kids by the dozens.
I was 15 years old when I gave a presentation on geography.
My group, we killed it, and my family was proud of me.
I was approached halfway through by a guy
six years older
and to get my attention, he ran his hand
down my shoulder.
“You don’t look Latina,” he said. He smiled.
I swallowed the identity duality that I’ve had since I was a child.
“I get that a lot,” I said, then I smiled.
He crossed his arms and watched me for a while.
I saw that look, collar bone to ankle,
up and down…
are you gonna go away soon?
“You know, I changed my mind,”
he said as if it mattered to me his thoughts on my identity.
“A red-headed Brazilian, now that’s atypical,
but your body is on the curvy side, your hips are a little wide, your eyes
are big and round, now your nose…it’s American, but
your body…that’s Brazilian.”
And now I was on the spot because what do you say
when someone tells you you have a butt?
“I like that,” he said as if to make me less uncomfortable.
“Turn around,” he suggested, “I wanna see you better.”
And I laughed and shook my head
and brought my arms to my body
because I wanted to say “no”, but those words never found me.
“Go ahead,” he said
so I turned around
for this guy,
this douchey little fuck.
And when I looked him in the face again,
I was confused
because it seemed like I was supposed to be flattered
by his words or his eyes,
but I worked hard on that project, and to him, that didn’t matter.
He eventually moved along, but I was deflated
he voted for my booth, but it was my body he evaluated.
So flash forward to my friend’s “Fuck this, fuck that” and the night
we commiserated about the bitch who commented on my calves.
And the next day she said she saw him on the other side of the grass,
and she told me she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Fuck you!”
and he looked up,
because let’s admit it: that’s startling,
but because people never get the depth of their missteps,
he kept walking.
What is it about guys bringing up my hips in discussion?
Telling me my body is
okay with them
as if I were asking their permission.
“You’re perfect the way you are…well…let me feel your stomach.”
“Don’t ever change,” they say like it’s a compliment.
But the thing is, they mean it. They’re putting you in a box:
“in this way you’re perfect”
“in this way you’re not”.
Like hell do they label it, “Handle With Care”
because it’s a box that they own, and your body is there.