When I was a freshman in high school and choosing a dress for my very first homecoming, my friend gave me this piece of advice: “You can show a tiny bit of cleavage or a tiny bit of leg. But not both.” Even now, as an eighteen-year-old about to head off into the world, my mom points out when my bra strap is visible.
For as long as I can remember, my girlhood has imposed conditions on my existence. From kindergarten on, girls were not allowed to sit the way the boys were, or our tights might show. I remember boys on the bus saying that girls swearing seemed weird. Girls should not complain. Girls should not talk too loudly, too boldly. Girls should not burp or show affection in public. Girls must be front row at church on Sundays, and blah, blah, blah.
I’m tired of being spoken down to from men at work. I’m tired of hearing men make side comments about how we are overly dramatic, about how we have enough emotions for six people and they just cannot wait for us to shut up. We are bursting at the seams with youth, change, mistakes, unwashed tangled hair, and last night’s mascara. This is who we are, and we are unapologetic.
Ting Ting Chen