-Lisa Kendrick, Norfolk, VA

You tried to tame me like every other princess on the shelf.
You tried to fit me into some societal standard
of what you think a girl should be.
You tried to smooth my unruly locks,
to soften my flaming hair,
to slim my curves,
to swab my face with makeup,
to put me in frilly dresses,
to make of me a puppet fit for your palace.
You tried to sell me to little girls
as a more perfect figure,
a watered down vision of what a real girl should be.
But THAT isn’t ME.
I like my hair curly and unkempt
because it plays with the wind as I run.
I like my face free of pastel war paint
so that my imperfect freckles will show,
the tokens of sun kisses that I earned
through my own sweat and tears.
I like my outfits simple
because then I can draw enough breath
to sing loudly when the rain drenches my skin.
I won’t sit properly like a dog trained to commands
but rather I will lounge in whatever stance I prefer
like an equal with a will of my own.
I am a real  woman
and I refuse to contort my soul into your square box
with cheap cellophane packaging
lining pink shelves in every toy department in America
demoted to stand with all the play kitchens
and doll babies and toy irons and vacuum cleaners.
I will never sell myself
to teach little girls that they should be LESS than little boys.
I refuse to muzzle my mouth
and curb my innate wildness.
I will not march to the beat
of all the pliable dolls before me,
a sexist stereotype that breaks the backbones of little girls
long before they can even stand.
I am not sugar and spice and everything nice.
I am fiery laughter and booming intellect and raging passion.
I am a real girl
and I’m here to stay.

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