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As womxn we are constantly told what we should be doing, what we should look like, and who we should be. Small sacrifices of authenticity for the comfort of others result in our identities being muted. Each instance, from the downplaying of strength to the diminishing of achievements, is linked to critiques about our desirability and accusations of being egotistical and intimidating. Let this poem be a mantra of sorts. Permission to be the full, multifaceted version of yourself and to shine so brightly that you blind those who would try to snuff you out.
To the girl who feels an invisible pressure to define herself:
Do not apologize for the number on the scale
Its value is far outweighed by your vigor.
Boast your scarred and battered legs
For they paint a story of triumphant redemption.
Know that your strength
Does not make others weak
But the discomfort of others
In the face of your power does.
And when you are defied
Because you are not a duplicate of the slight, passive girls
That danced through childhood fairy tales
Hungry and resilient.
And if they can’t keep up
Leave them behind.
For those who are both
Wild and soft
Fierce and fragile
Reckless and dedicated.
For the rational dreamers
The gentle warriors
The problematic princesses
And the burly women who know
And the ephemeral light of hope that shines through
When molds begin to crack
Reveal the triteness of normalcy
And how it merely serves to hold us down
When we were meant to soar.
Allison Vest is a two-time Canadian Bouldering Champion and was the first Canadian woman to send a V13/8B boulder: The Terminator, Squamish, 2019.