By Teafly Peterson – My body is not a democracy. My body is an empire and I am its dictator. You do not get a vote. There will be no coup d’etat. Rebel forces will not overthrow me. I am in charge of it forever.
You are welcome to have your opinions. And you are welcome to keep them for yourself. Please do not leave them at the gates of my empire. They will only be thrown in the incinerator, as all of my storage facilities are full.
For the last year, it has felt like there has been an attack on my body, from both the outside and the inside. When I hear the stories of young girls being raped and then bullied by other GIRLS for speaking out, I begin to think I have stepped into some strange world where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Walker and Ani DiFranco never existed.
When I hear men speak about how women’s bodies work and their ideas for controlling them through legislation, I wonder if they have ever seen a woman’s body.
As I look forward to a new year, I realize there is a bit of fighting we need to do. If I have to fight for my body and the freedom to govern my own beautiful empire, then I will, but I will not fight with my body any more. I will not fight with those horrid little uglies—those pests that creep into my mirrors and magazines and photographs that tell me I am too fat to be loved or be beautiful. And just so you know, the uglies attack the skinny girls, too. It is something we all have in common.
NEW RULES FOR MY EMPIRE:
I will feel as fierce as I look when I dress everyday. I am a fashion revolution and my uniform is my beauty and grace and my fabulous shoes which I have the uncanny ability to find for reasonable prices.
No longer will it be acceptable to compare my body to any other woman’s as I walk down the street or sit on the street car or look at magazines. Not even the, “well, at least I’m not as fat as her.” This is a punishable offense.
Punishments for being human and making mistakes are now outlawed. Punishments for any offenses previously mentioned shall be a dose of self love. This may involve singing in the shower, buying new face cream or treating oneself to a donut– even though I am not a big sweets eater—there is a time and a place.
When I love something another woman is wearing I will tell her, even if I don’t know her—she deserves to know that her uniform is fabulous and that our empires can be friendly allies.
I will listen to young girls as they give their perspective on the world and gently remind them of my own, allowing them to come to the meadow of the feminist revolution for themselves, as we all do eventually. I will welcome them when they get there and remember that they are dictators of their own empires and are free to govern as they wish.
I will remember that I am more than a body. I am a spirit, a soul, a being of light. I am but a precious moment on this earth and while that time is short, it is also powerful. I will do my best to honor the sun, the wind and the sky as they bring my existence into perspective.
You are welcome to visit my empire. We have lovely accommodations and reasonable rates. The spring here is fabulous, though we do offer various treasures year round. And just remember, you can visit, but I am the only one who gets to live here. And I am in charge.
Teafly’s “My Body Is Not A Democracy” image is now available as an 8″ x 8″ signed print.
About Teafly Peterson
“I make art because it is the best language I speak. I teach art because I want to have more and better conversations with my fellow humans about this big amazing world and everything in it.”
For the last 15 years, Teafly has been working as an artist and an educator, teaching a variety of mediums – painting, drawing, photography, writing, film making. In addition to doing graphic design, she has also worked professionally as an artist, and illustrated a short-lived, yet beloved stationery line called “Poppy.”
But what Teafly really loves is creating community-based art projects that help those communities look deeper into themselves, like the “We Live Here, Too” project which was a series of portraits of people in the LGBTQ community in their favorite places in Central Oregon.
Check out all of her inspired work here.
Teafly walking in the rain, Portland, Oregon, 2014 : Photo by Luke Sheridan