Damn the Man,  General Lunacy

The Invisible Woman

Lately I’ve been thinking about invisibility. Not the superpower that would allow you to sneak into places you shouldn’t frequent, but the more attainable kind I’ve always craved – to take up as little space as possible.

It started when I was very young. I was tall, taller than everyone at school, even some teachers. Being teased for my height, I wanted so desperately to be petite and delicate. Instead of a fern, I was a giant redwood.

I stayed silent, subconsciously believing my lack of voice would shrink my physical size. Perhaps then I would go unnoticed, one of the crowd, no longer teased.

But I always stood out, a solid color against the patterned wallpaper of human interaction.


Later, as I grew older, it became clear to me that invisibility was what society demanded of women – at least, women in the circles in which I ran. Shrink back, let the menfolk do the talking. I silenced my opinions, my intellect, and let life happen to me for many wasted years.

This invisibility of course translated to physical weight as I grew older and carried more baggage, so to speak. I wanted my body to shrink, to take up as little space as possible. Dainty, feminine – to be invisible, this is an ideal in our culture for women. Tiny sparrow-thin arms, fragile collar bones, ribs sticking through silky blouses, this was the definition of ideal femininity enveloping my culture.

However, I am none of these. I take up space. I am weighty, even substantive. My ideas and my body take up space, muscular and fleshy. I am re-training my mind to no longer think of this as a negative trait. My solid legs support me as I do yoga; my strong arms lift heavy items on my own without assistance; my voice gives rise to three-dimensional opinions no longer shaped by others’ expectations of me.

I may never be lithe, but now I see that I’d rather be solid than invisible.

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