womanhood

I remember the day I came home in fifth grade
and insisted that my mother
teach me how to shave my legs
She tried to talk me out of it
but I was young and fiercely adamant,
so she sighed and relented,
and I shaved my legs and pits for fifteen years
hating every single stroke
and every bump of angry razor burn
I earned with my demand

What I never told her
was the truth about why
I wanted to be allowed this next step of “womanhood”
when she asked, I replied,
“all the other girls are doing it”
(which was a lie, it was only a few)
The truth is this:
a friend of mine told me after school
that during recess, a few classmates
had been laughing at me
pointing at my dark haired hairy legs
while I sat in peaceful bliss on a jungle gym
at a mere eleven years old.

So I, young and confused and ashamed,
took on a lifelong beauty regimen I hated
until I learned the truth
about why women shave their legs-
greedy men in the early 1900s wanted to sell more fucking razors
so they marketed female hair as unhygienic or undesirable
and this lie persists a hundred years later

Beauty regimens should be a choice
not a requirement of society
Do what you want with your body
and stop letting dead old white men
dictate your one precious life

Confections

Chocolate dipped oreos lay in neat rows
beside white chocolate pretzels
and beyond that is a few pounds of peanut butter fudge
Sour coated gummies sit in clear bins with scoops
beside a cascade of lemon drops
and a haphazard stack of boxes brimming with salt water taffy
Old fashioned ribbon candy lines the shelf below the myriad of chocolates

And the young person behind the counter
dressed in a bright striped apron and a delicate paper hat
nods gently and smiles at you
but the happiness on display
doesn’t reach their eyes.