The recent news cycle has been draining. The recent abortion bans in Georgia, Alabama, Ohio. Every day, my entire social media feed is dominated by stories of desperate women whose lives ended in pursuit of reproductive freedom. Horrifying tales of 11-year olds forced to carry their rapists’ babies to term, women who were imprisoned for murder following a miscarriage, women who died needlessly because they were denied necessary abortions. It feels endless. We’re constantly begging for our humanity — women are. It’s one thing after another. #MeToo. Now this. Always this. Always something.
And then, the littles thing set me off: I was taking a break from Twitter (ha!) to scroll through Instagram, and I saw a video shared by one of my favorite beauty accounts. It was a lifehack video, about bra straps — ok, Meghan, show don’t tell:
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And for some reason, this made me sit up in bed and seethe. God, I remember believing that bra straps showing was the worst. Whose high school dress code didn’t explicitly forbid bra straps from showing? I remember fuming at the double standard of girls trying to keep their straps from slipping out of their t-shirt sleeves while the boys — as was the style in the late 90s — sagged their pants to deliberately show their underwear. Like, FULL BUTTS OUT. But heaven forbid a girl’s bra straps show, or her skirt be too short? Even as kids, all women are policed with higher standards. So much on our shoulders.
So today, of all days. After reading nothing but harrowing testimonials of real abortions that women had. By their free choice, or otherwise. Cometh this “tip” for hiding your bra straps. Like we always have to do. Hide the struggle, hold in the pain, bear the shame and lean in, bitch! Obviously, all genders are affected by the need for abortion care (and yes, even cis men benefit from abortions), but this time it felt personal. As if there wasn’t enough going on. I mean, I identify as a woman, tenuously. My relationship with my gender identity is one of reluctant defiance. I bought big-time into that NLOG-shit when I was younger because I didn’t want to be a part of the legacy of suffering that is womenhood. White Feminism also soured me desire to be a part of the “club.” So while I am always re-examining and re-evaluating my relationship to womanhood, I guess that’s where I land. Or is it the sort of thing where, if you have to ask, you already know the answer?
Well, a huge thing that drives me away from womanhood is this: I feel like identifying as a woman is a choice. And if so, who in the world would willingly make that choice? To be a woman is to constantly be disappointed by those in whom you trust. To be empowered when it’s convenient and cute, but disenfranchised when it counts. To be a “Fearless Girl” who can be anything she wants to be when she grows up… as long as it’s not President! To have your pain not taken seriously by medical professionals. TO be property of the public, have your outsides constantly hollered at and your insides subject to the whim of legislators. It’s a shitty, shitty, raw deal! How exhausting.
Thinking about everything that lands on our shoulders, you know, emotionally, I couldn’t help but wonder: so what if our bra straps are showing? Why is it that we have to be out here, in the streets and on the Twitter, begging for support by baring our hearts raw and our most painful stories of harassment, assault, rape, and abortion? Only to be disappointed by our country, time and time again?
Listen, some days, the only one who gives me that support I need is my bra. And if it’s showing, let it do what it wants to do. I’ve got enough on my shoulders to worry about that.