magicforest I am remembering the dance classes. The floor was checkered in big black and white tiles with a long silver bar on every wall. We put on the leathery ballet slippers, not the refined kind that seem to consist entirely of satin ribbon, but shrivelled grey-pink things with soles made out of cardboard. We danced twice a week. Before the recital, Madame Whatever and Miss Louise and Miss Ellen looked us over. Their eyes narrowed at me. They whispered.

ďYou are thinner than the otherssaid Madame Whatever to me, aside, ďCould you try to pull your legs together so that the spaces donít show

For the rest of the endless classes when we stood in First Position I strained so that below my knees before my feet, nicely together, the dreaded space would shrink.

ďNice improvementsaid Madame Whatever, although I could tell the difference.

I felt ashamed of my body.

One of the girls didnít like me because I bit my nails. She told me that if I kept biting them I would get worms inside of me. I pictured earthworms crawling in me, a mass like ground beef, but I knew what to say, and I said that I didnít care, and that if I got worms, so would all of the other millions of people who bit their nails.

That night I put Band-Aids on every one of my fingers, over my nails, so that I could stop biting my nails by the next weekís dance class. I didnít think I would get worms, but I didnít want the girl to notice me.

I couldnít stop biting my nails and I started suspecting that I was repulsive and disgusting.

I had other complaints as well. I didnít look as white and pure-looking as the other girls. I was more bronzed. This was a bad thing. Dancers are supposed to be made of porcelain, not brass. And the other girls were ďdevelopingĒ, which is the adult word for the spectacular event of breasts. I did not develop. I did not ripen. I was a seed that did not sprout. I was wasted space.

I was worthless.

- - - - - - - - - - -

In grade six I was banished from my group.

One by one the coy girls with their hair in updos (that means that their hair didnít touch their necks) told me that another in the group didnít like me. One girl didnít want to say it but they made her anyway. I shouldnít say that they made her; she chose to because the consequences of not doing it were unknown.

They had planned this during the previous recesses, when I wasnít permitted to join them. I was most formally ousted.

So I started spending a lot of time alone. I did not cry once at the school.

But I learned how to smile believably.

I would be damned if I let them know what they had done to me. They didnít like that I never said a swear word. Or that I had no interest in wearing the futile, petulant frilly little training bra. They didnít like that I didnít have any corduroy pants to wear when all the other girls wore them.

They didnít like a lot of things about me.

My teacher called my house. He wanted to tell my mother that I had not been with my friends much recently and he was concerned. Adults like the word concerned.

My mother was very angry with me.

ďItís because you never reciprocated,Ē she said. ďYou should have listened when I told you to reciprocate

I didnít want reciprocation, I wanted somebody to sit with during recess, even if I didnít like them, so long as they liked me.

Reciprocation was not in the picture.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Most girls are supposed to become shy in high school. Itís when their bodies intimidate and embarrass them, itís when boys abound with sex and love, and itís when we are supposed to get perfect.

The marvellous thing is that I had gotten it over with already.

To get over something is to get tired of it being a factor in your life. You can acknowledge that it was there and has affected you, but it is not in your present. It is not your concern. Adults say that it is not their concern in a flippant way. We say it in a way that is despairing.

I got over being a girl.

Most girls are supposed to become shy in high school. I did not. I did not implode into insecurity. I exploded. It was not sudden, instead it was a slow and unconscious explosion that can come with being so exhausted of my previous, unreactive state of being.

I donít know how I did it, but I suddenly had value. I was currency. I was desirable, to myself if not to others.

Not only that, but I began to see worth in others as well, shimmering and transcendent in a yellow-purple-blue silk, in their tears and their pain and their blood, I saw it in the other girls I had so resented and so feared, the girls who made me sick in the morning. That is the proper context of made: when you do something involuntary which is triggered by an outside influence.

I saw it and I see it still.

I know them well because I know myself better.

I know the feeling of being wrong that gets into your throat, or the feeling of being right with everything around you so wrong. I know wanting to disappear, so that you can glide along invisibly. I know wanted to shrink into a black pinpoint and then being nothing at all, painlessly and effortlessly, a lapse into dreamless and uninterrupted sleep. I know shame and disgust and the dull misery. I know sharpness and a slice of crying in the night that is accidental, and violins crying, I know that too. I know horror. I know whimpering. I know hiding especially, wanting to hide, hiding things, hiding from yourself, hiding from others, hiding others, hiding yourself, all sorts of hiding and methods to hide.

I know you.

But that sleek fluttering worth, merging into something exuberant, it does not run.

This is all I have faith in, this is all I have hope in, this is all I believe in.


is strong
once again This is a beautifully heart rending picture you have painted. The exactness you ahve captured in your words is lovely.

is in awe.
endless desire i think she sang.
and i believe i listened.
and i remember it being sweet.
and i know i loved her words.
and i don't doubt she is an inspiration.
and i would like to breathe a while.
magicforest merci beaucoup

i think

it was meant for you anyway
Lemon_Soda ...I know I'm not a girl, but...its such good writing I could'nt help myself. 031020
misstree my experiences while still a sapling were very different, but you wonderfully captured the yawp that escaped once i hit high school and realized that Nothing Matters, captured the the alienness and empty wounds, the shrinking in on myself i had done until then, that i still felt the urge to do but kept yawping until i was hoarse, til the rest of the world believed it almost as much as i did. ya got me misty-eyed with the good kind of mist. cheers. 031020
smurfus rex i wonder if this is what my sister went through.

it is not an exaggeration to say that you have a gift, magicforest. for reals.
magicforest Reals? 031022
The B****E Man yes, reals!


marked . 040621
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anne-girl speechless

unhinged i wonder where she is

haven't seen her in awhile

i wish all the girls saw like her
jane it's interesting how many of us had similar experiences growing up, how the criticism would bore into our skin but was always there. was i one of those people, i wonder. i suppose in some way someone always resented us, as we resented others.

thank you, mf.
jls I was the first of all my friends to wear a bra. It was third grade, and I already had breasts. And I was teased mercilessly for it. The boys would incessantly snap my brastrap, which would leave bruises and welts on my back, and the girls... whenever there was a picture of me, they would draw an outline of a bra over my chest. The girls hurt me more.

I think it was fifth grade that I started ballet (which I did for six years), and the way our bodies were scrutinized by the teacher and by the other girls... it was horrific. And we had to wear skintight clothing so that every muscle movement could be seen, so it could be criticized, corrected...

One day, when we were being measured for recital costumes (a day I hated more than any other. "Oh, you've gained an inch here, but you've lost one here...") I walked back into the classroom, and found the girls huddled and whispering. "She's so BIG" I heard one of them say. I choked back tears for the rest of the day, went home, and began starving myself, throwing up, hurting my tongue so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat when I got the urge...

It was years later when I confronted the girl that I found out she was just talking about my breasts.
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