An Ode to Feminism
Some people can pinpoint the moment, or era, that they became a feminist. Some clear defining feature of their life that led to their inevitable entryway into the world that is Feminism.
I don’t necessarily have that. I grew up in a household where my mother was the breadwinner, where my father always preached love, respect and equality for women. I had a few women in my world that led inspirational lives and withheld the impalpable power that often comes with Womanhood; that strength, agility, passion. So, I suppose, I was born into Feminism; as though the fire of the 60s still flowed in my mother’s blood and thus into me as I became into creation. I was lucky that way.
Yet this did not mean that I grew up believing in myself and not spending months on end obsessing over my body image. I was 9 when I first became insecure of my body; when I started crossing my arms to hide my stomach as I sat down in my blue and white school dress. I’d already started developing breasts. I could feel myself becoming sexualised before I even understood what the implications on breasts could bring. A confusing time made even more confusing when bras were introduced before I’d even finished primary school. In 2004, when I was 7, we were shown a video of a woman giving birth. I felt nauseous. The boys were giggling. I couldn’t believe I’d done this to my mother… None of the girls were lighthearted, we were all terrified. It was as though we were being warned: this is what you’re made for, prepare yourself.
Fast forward about 8 years after primary school had ended, and you’ll find me about to finish A-Levels. I had always been a sickly student, but my final year of A-Levels saw me housebound for the better half of a year. A terrifying moment in my life where everything and everyone frightened me. Previously known as the bolshy, rebellious, outspoken confident girl, I was diminished into a skeletal version of a girl I did not know. I’d lost all confidence to leave the house, let alone strut down the street knowing I was capable of anything I set my mind to. All my energy had gone, and I thought it would forever. That’s okay, I thought. I can support women from the sidelines.
Whilst that statement is most certainly true, I eventually found myself in a long recovery that led me to where I am today. A journey I would not have had the will to take without Feminism supporting me every step of the way. The last four years have seen an uprise in the popularity of Feminism, and I am indebted to this.
The women I have found, the movements I have joined, the conversations I have contributed to, were fundamental to my existence here today. If I hadn’t had women celebrating and supporting me throughout this time, I wouldn’t have made it. In a world where bad news seems constant and relentless, the women in my life have stayed stable and immovable forces to be reckoned with. And you know why this is? Because when women hit hardship, we only get stronger, we only fight harder.
I am staring at the mirage of my 7 year old self. Long blonde hair in piglet ties, the cheekiest of smiles, and big blue eyes. I can see in her eyes the shadow that comes with self-doubt and self consciousness. All the things that are about to come that lead you down a dark path are ahead of you, they are coming at full force. You will learn everything you now know about yourself in the darkest of times, and you will get through it. Body image and popularity should be at the back of your mind. Soon you will find women who reflect the strength you found in your mother when the nighttime got scary, but this time their strength comes to you when life has you on the floor, wishing for an end. Their strength will prevail, and thus will yours.
We owe everything to our Sisters.
Thank you to all of mine.
Article by VERVE Operative Helena Burton - Jones