A Shame of Being Ashamed

Image by Emma Lehman

i was once called wanton
for wearing red high heels
and for the rest of the day, i limped
more than walked—
my head heavy carrying those
two syllables worth an injury

i have seen enough women
clean up after lovers
“love hurts sometimes” they’re told,
enough women hide grief in
pools of mascara

i have seen enough women
lift the weight of their dreams
with french-manicured fingers
but don’t dream too much
heavyweight might make your shoulders broad

seen enough women consider
beauty a liability
like they’re something that is made to be touched
and girl, be quiet
because you secretly want it
even though you don’t know it yet

i have seen enough women
so, here i say to those
who wear their stilettos
loud enough to silence the mocking—
maybe it’s about one step at a time
maybe not all Cinderellas misfit their shoes
or squirm in their identities until
they’re validated by a prince

here’s to all the women who refuse to be contained
inside small checkboxes and societal definitions
to the women who dare to carry personalities
or follow a newer religion

maybe Mary doesn’t have to be virgin this time
to raise a prophet
maybe she bleeds every month
cries, stains her mini-skirt
gets piercings
like some of us goddesses do

here’s to all you women
who know what you are asked to be
and know you are not it
i tell you this—
i’m ashamed of being ashamed in high heels
and i’m tired of looking up to mythical goddesses
so now, i bow down to You instead

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