When I was a little girl growing up in rural Canada, I was subjected to nearly intolerable amounts of racial abuse that often manifested as physical abuse as well. Mostly from peers, but sometimes from adults. Mostly from males. It was the eighties, and we weren’t really talking about racism then and certainly not on my exclusively white, rural island in the North Atlantic.
I learned to stand up for myself, to fight back. I became a “tomboy” and decided I really didn’t like being a girl. I tried to copy how the boys walked, what they liked, and how they talked. I became one of the guys, both as a defense mechanism but also as a subconscious response to what I think I viewed then as the weakness of femininity. To that point in my life, being a girl seemed like a disadvantage.
As I grew older (and bigger) the physical abuse waned and the racism I faced was mostly limited to verbal attacks, which I felt relieved by if I’m being honest. I can handle words, but how does a little girl face off physically against teenage racists who enjoy watching a little black girl cry?
With that mental transition, I also began to embrace my femininity. Periods, bra shopping, hairstyles, crushes…despite my unusual life circumstances, in many ways I was just a typical teenage girl.
I left to join my American family as an American at 18 and never looked back. I went on my first date ever, got my first boyfriend ever, and began to discover the joyous aspects of my female body. I began to enjoy dressing this body, styling this body, and yes, enjoying attention for this body from cute boys.
When I finally married is when I really came into womanhood.
Becoming a wife transformed me from a girl to a woman. I had no concept of how to make marriage work outside of what my faith offered me. I didn’t come from a nuclear family and most of the people in my family were divorced. I learned how to keep a home (hey,
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