-Heather Willard, Cleveland, Ohio
I go through stages in my life. I started this year as a nervous seventeen-year-old who was terrified of failure and was in no way prepared for college. Then I changed into a heartbroken girl, fresh from the failure of her first relationship. I hated who I’d become, so I decided to change. And I did, from unforgiven, I went to un-perfect. I was sad, depressed, lost. Who was I but a failure?
Then I vowed to become more and did. I became a self-proclaimed unattainable being, but it wasn’t, it still isn’t, enough. So I rather quickly went to something real, formidable, and unforgettable: I am unapologetic.
I will be who I am, inside and out because there are no words to describe how small I feel otherwise. I see people trodden upon and tiny, lost inside their own little worlds like that is all they will ever know, but I vow to be a pillar of strength for what I believe in.
I know, this sounds mushy and feel-y and not altogether cohesive, so let me backtrack and try to explain.
I am a feminist. I fight for the equality of rights, and I stand up for human life. I am alive and I matter. I am unapologetic.
I was raised in a conservative household. My father ran the house, and though my mother was highly educated, we deferred to him on most things. I was held to a strong Christian moral standard and lifestyle. Then I met my first feminist, took a women’s studies class, talked to women and men passionate about the future of equality and I found myself rethinking what I had held a true standard before. Maybe women were not meant to be subordinate, and maybe I should be able to stand up for precisely what I want.
I found a whole section of culture built on no longer demeaning women, but building them up and creating creatures capable of being forces of nature: the meaning of goddess in the flesh. I found people who were proud of all their lumps, their scars, their femininity, and I found myself entranced. I’d never imagined loving my body before, nor being a voice loud enough to shout above the hubbub and draw a following.
Finally, I can say it proudly and unashamedly: I am a feminist. I fight for the equality of rights, and I stand up for human life. I am alive and I matter. I am unapologetic.