by Rebecca Clemmons
Illustrated by Pepper Pieroni
Ownership is a dangerous thing.
There is something so powerful about the hold someone has on you when they say they love you. It seems to protect you, to lift you up, to make you whole. It does not.
I love you—and suddenly, I’m not my own. I’m yours.
That phrase—‘I love you’—it does not protect you. It does not lift you up, and it certainly does not make you whole. It eats you. It seeps inside every crack in your confidence, and it manifests there. It cracks you even more in order to make room. It weighs you down. It suffocates. It deteriorates.
I love you—and suddenly, you own me.
Those cracks that I came with allowed you to manifest in me and take ownership of me. It allowed you to hold me, to touch me, to put your lips and your hips on mine and to put me in the palm of your hand.
I loved you—and suddenly, you didn’t love me back anymore. Yet, you still owned me.
Well, babe, now I’m taking myself back.
I am living for myself. I am putting on the skirt that you thought was too short. I’m putting on the lipstick you told me was too dark. I’m sharpening my eyeliner to kill, even though you said you liked me better without it. I don’t give a shit what you liked, because it sure as hell wasn’t me—it was the body I came in.
And not only that, but I am dancing how I want. I am swinging my hips, and I’m making dangerous eye contact with a boy I know you would hate. I will drink too much and dance too much and have way too much fun. And I will fucking love it.
I will look in the mirror, and I will celebrate. I will dance, I will run, I will make love and I will make history. I will love myself until it hurts—until you hurt, wishing you had loved me that much.
I will let him please me, not because he wants to, but because I do. Because you don’t get to tell me otherwise. Because for the first time, I have the power to do what feels good for me.
Because I own my body.