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To All the Wonder Women and My Fellow Bad Asses

This love letter is for you… all the women out there. You don’t know how truly amazing you are. Heck, it took my 32 years to figure out how truly amazing you are. I had been confused for so long thanks to a whole lot of mixed messaging and of course lack of life experience.

Growing up, media and society gave me all these messages on what the definition of being a woman is. I was told that I was supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, and do certain things. I was told that women are more sensitive than men; that we are weaker than men; that we are more emotional than men, and the list goes on. The real problem with that however was that what I saw in my immediate life said EVERYTHING to the contrary…yet I still was listening to the societal norms.

If women were the “weaker sex”, then why were all the women in my life the real bosses? Mexican society which is characterized by its machismo has a HUGE flaw…it is run by women. No Mexican household would run without a woman, nothing would get done. Yet, the picture portrayed in the media made it seem like man is king. I can tell you as a fact, that every single woman in my family runs her household; that they all have made the impossible possible. Raising children when they themselves could have been considered children; taking care of relatives when they themselves are not in the best shape; and just getting shit done. In short, they create small miracles everyday.

The confusion for me came from their silence. Why weren’t they speaking up when the men abused them? Why were they not asserting their bad assness? And why did their silence only apply to men? These women were not short on any words towards other women in the family or society. I was told, just like countless others, “You would be so pretty if you would…”, “No one will marry you if you act like that.”, “That isn’t very ladylike.” And as harmless as these phrases might seem, they sunk in pretty deep.

Appearance is always the first thing a woman is judged on. For me that included my prominent body hair and my tendency to be on the chunky side. I was constantly told, you would be pretty if you lost a little weight, or if you got rid of your arm hair, etc. And I gave in to those pressures. I started waxing my eyebrows and mustache at 11 years old. I started shaving my legs shortly after, and in my 20s I got laser hair removal on my arms. I dieted on and off throughout my life, just like every other woman I know, and was utterly miserable with how much I obsessed about food. I never actually hated my body, but I did torture it.

As a woman there are things we accept that we don’t really pay attention to how messed up they truly are. At least, for me it was like this. I accepted the fact that with bigger boobs (not anymore) I would always get unwanted attention or comments being made about them. That because of my body shape I was already characterized as being a certain type. And the worst part is my dumb ass played into it, and became that certain type. But I was young, and didn’t know better.

We are bombarded with images and words that define who women are. I was supposed to be sexy, but not a slut. I was supposed to play nice, and not swear. I was supposed to do graceful and dainty things. If I cared about my appearance I was shallow, but if I didn’t I was lazy. If I was too fat I was ugly, but if I was too skinny, the same was true. It is okay to have feelings and emotions, but if you show them too much you’re crazy. Support other women, but also secretly want them to fail. It was too dangerous for me to do anything alone, but it would be okay for a boy to do it. Who the fuck can keep up with ANY of that???? It is all utter bullshit.

But you know what the best part is? That despite all of that, despite everyone and their mother weighing in our lives at any given single moment we managed not only to survive but THRIVE. The women in my life are the true bad asses, each and every one of you. You have had to bury a child but still fight on. You gave a child up for adoption so they could have a better life. You started your own business. You support a loved one so they can fulfill their dream. You have trusted love one more time, after being disappointed time and time again. You have lost limbs, but continue to fight. You write books and poetry. You paint and take photos. You have looked addiction in the face and said, ENOUGH! You are raising your kids alone. You left your jobs to take care of your family. You share your struggles daily with strangers around the world. You go back to school after many many years. You make a fresh start, and try something new. You share your passion with others, even when some days you can’t find that passion. You are unapologetically and authentically you…and I see you. There is no way to define a woman and I thank you all for being incredibly unique and inspiring me every day NOT to define myself.

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