A Poem, To The Girl Who Feels Pressure To Define Herself

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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

Blaze forward

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

That dichotomy

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.