I’ve been thinking a lot about math lately. Not fancy equations, but the math of being a woman.
My whole life has been about taking things out of my life in order to make it better. Subtracting weight. Removing blemishes. Getting rid of the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Reducing belly fat. Banishing negative thoughts. Taking this or that out of my diet. Ignoring my needs, lessening them for the convenience of others. Literally lowering the volume of my voice because too many people have scolded me for being too loud.
How many of you are vigorously shaking your head with me right now? I am not a special snowflake. My tendency to subtract puts me in really good company, because most women I know do the exact same thing. Always taking things out, making themselves smaller, less-than, and yet often still expected to be all things to all people at every goddamn minute of the day.
To say I’m fed up with it is a gross understatement. The biggest regrets of my life involve me making myself less than I am EVERY SINGLE TIME. Pardon my French, or don’t because I don’t give a shit, Fuck That.
I’m through subtracting. I’m ripping that button off my calculator and getting cozy with the addition symbol. I’m going to talk as loudly as I want, and you should, too.
Talk in a funny voice. Make lots of vocal fry. (I hear people get really angry about that for some reason, so do that one a lot.) Stop removing things from your diet and start adding things in. (You probably need more vegetables anyway. Add those in ways that taste really good and only eat the ones you like.) Add ice cream back into your life. (If you like it! If not, I’m not sure what you’re living for, but to each their own.) Make things that are ugly just for the sake of adding something new to the world without giving a flying fuck about what it looks like. Add in two-piece bathing suits. Add your blemishes back in, and yes, that includes cellulite, stretch marks, crooked teeth, wrinkles, gray hair, and crow’s feet. Stop subtracting parts your face by airbrushing it for a selfie.
People. Are airbrushing. Selfies. I felt like that needed repeating.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying it’s bad to subtract the people and situations from your life that are hazardous for your mental and physical well-being. We all get that we need to do that, right?
No, I’m talking about the insidious, constant removal of aspects of our personalities and bodies in order to be… what? I don’t know what math you’re using, but my math says that if you continue to subtract, you’ll eventually be left with nothing. Will we finally be happy then? Will everyone, at long last, accept us for who we are? If we are devoid of all original parts, will we suddenly become beings of pure light existing only for the pleasure of everyone else’s sensibilities?
Um, no. We’ll just be nothing.
Here’s a rare selfie of me after a brisk walk around Falling Water. I’m covered in sweat and DEET, un-showered, red-faced, and messy.
I’m all those things in real life, too, and oodles more.
I’m lots of everything. Lots and tons and scores of things. Almost too many to add up.