today, i lay on the floor while my boyfriend sat on my butt. carefully, steadily, i pushed up off the carpet, my feet planting into the ground. “hold on,” i sang out, floating my cargo up with me as i rose to standing. piggybacked, he laughed as i trotted around the living room in my victory lap.

this is going to be gloomy. i do this thing, sometimes (most times), when something good happens. i give myself a few minutes to savor it, & then i start looking for the downside. it’s not a good habit, though it was helpful when i needed some cynicism to keep me grounded (safe). the residue it has left behind is slick & stubborn. it would be nice to be able to enjoy things – the things i get, the things i earn.

i love being strong. even before i was working out regularly, i was strong (“for a girl,” i’d been told, but eff that; plain strong). now, training with goals in mind, my body thrives. something deep & primal wakes up, stretches, grins. my muscles sing. i feel grounded and present in my body in a way i never have. & i want to stay there, happy & proud & enlivened, for just a little bit longer.

but i’ll never be dainty. no matter how often the adjectives “little” & “cute” are used to describe me, it never feels true. from the time i was a kid, in first grade i believe, i’ve been told i was too big. my mother was dainty – short, hands small and delicate like fluttering birds – and she threw herself into unhealthy diet & exercise regimes to keep it that way. that i could not do the same was evidence of my laziness, my lack of commitment, my unworthiness. i was always too big, compared to my mother, to my wispy classmates, to all the celebrities it was cool to idolize. curves came early, & i was all big hair & a big butt, thick legs & a real bra too soon.

it came from so many places that i don’t know where to pin it, but feminine = dainty in my head. i don’t even think it’s true. i neither teach nor preach it. but it’s written deep in my brain, & i don’t know how to erase or revise it. the changing of my body, as i’ve begun training, has been terrifying, & exciting, & exhilarating. i know the shape of me will continue to change. the other day i looked down & it was like seeing a ghost: my mother’s hands resting in my lap, slender & pocket-sized. but i know that those hands are not all of me, that their newly uncovered delicateness will not translate bodywide. my thick legs will never evoke a gazelle, my curves are going nowhere. i will never be willowy, with arms like string to knot around my beloved. i don’t even know that i want to be these things, look this way. but it’s still not without disappointment that i think that “graceful” and “dainty” are not for me. i am a cannonball, not a swan dive.


2 thoughts on “dainty

  1. This is powerful writing, and you have some real treasures sprinkled all throughout this important message. Amazing sense with words — residue that is “slick and stubborn,” hands like “delicate birds,” “arms like string,” just to name a few. Absolutely love this — and trust me, even an agile football player is graceful. A strong body is a gift; beauty is not made by curves alone. 🙂

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