One of the Boys

When I was around sixteen, I became hyper aware of how the boys my age categorized the girls around them.
The ones they found attractive were worthy of attention, the others... not so much.

I remember multiple occasions where I’d watch in horror as a particular group of girls I knew would literally sit at the feet of the boys.
I felt a stab of betrayal, as a boy I thought I might actually have a chance at being friends with, reciprocated their wide eyed gazes staring up from the floor, by paying strong attention to their booty shorts.
Me, with my knee length jean shorts, wasn’t worth his time.

I proclaimed to myself how revolting it was for those girls to dress that way, serving themselves up for the boys to gawk over, when really I was jealous that they dared to shamelessly win at a game I couldn’t bring myself to play.
I decided that if being female was competing to see how much flesh you were comfortable showing in order to be worth someone’s time, I would pull myself out of the competition all together.

I denied myself anything traditionally feminine.
I loved fashion, but began to limit my wardrobe to masculine clothing.
I adored makeup, but soon I hardly put any on.
I stopped shaving my body hair for over a month.

I hoped the boys around me would forget I was female underneath my jean jacket, because the only relationship they deemed worthy of pursuing with a girl was that of the chaser and the chased.
But I wanted to walk alongside them!
I longed to be labeled “one of the boys” to invalidate me as prey,
So I’d be taken off the menu of girls they could pick from to discuss taking a bite out of,
So I could have a conversation with them without their motivation being to see down my shirt.

A tight dress makes a girl worthy of attention, while baggy jeans makes a girl feel safe.
When will covering my ass simply be covering my ass, and not deciding what kind of interactions I’m willing to sign up for today?
I shouldn’t have to deny my womanhood in order to reveal my humanhood.

I shouldn’t have to choose between being valued or being respected.

This poem is about: 
Me
My community

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