My father always said that children were to be seen and not heard. I think of it often when I have a hard time finding my words. I think of it when I am angry and pissed and I struggle to keep my emotions in check, because when I am mad it is harder to use my words. I was not taught to use them. Since I knew to keep my mouth shut, I learned how to filter. If I ever made a bad choice, and got into trouble, then the potential punishment was in the form of his wooden fraternity paddle. That thing scared me. As did my dad’s disappointment.
I began to read voraciously when I was very young, and I started writing and illustrating my own stories too. Sometimes I wrote to get out of my world. Now I write to make sense of my world, to put the puzzle pieces together and try to understand it all. The thoughts and opinions I have of myself and how I perceive each situation. Did I handle it well? Did I react confidently and with poise? Or, did I go overboard and lose my cool? I remember a few classmates in college that impressed me with their writing ability. I can remember someone in particular that was able to put pen to paper about womanhood in the rawest of forms, and I never felt I could write like that.
So when I saw “Shrinking Women” it reminded me of my days studying Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Women’s Writing in college. While I was intensely into my studies, and at times felt like a hard-core feminist, I could never write poetry. I actually even had a hard time following poetry in general. Unless it was short and sweet, I was usually not interested. Lily Meyers, who wrote, “Shrinking Women” kept me listening. Maybe it is because I relate to her story. She won Best Love Poem at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational last April, and is a 2015 future graduate of Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT).
Here are a few lines that stood out to me:
“My brother never thinks before he speaks. I have been taught to filter…You have been taught to grow out. I have been taught to grow in…I learned to absorb…That’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades…How much space she deserves to occupy…I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word: sorry.”
Lily will make you think about how women view their body and their space, and how your actions might make your sister, friend, daughter, or niece view their body and space. It gets good at around 1:25 minutes. Maybe her passion, youth, and talent will make other women get rid of their filters. Enjoy.