to the dresses in my closet

How are you?

Besides frilly and heavily gendered, I mean.

We’ve known each other a while,

Ever since my aunt declared

I would look simply darling

In pink with ringlets

And I wondered why someone

Would ever want to be darling

When you could be witty.

Even though you’re just a piece of cloth,

I always felt like you were wearing me.

You had all of the control

And used it to scream from the rooftops

“SHE DOESN’T BELONG!”

Needless to say, we’ve always had a rocky relationship.

In a dress, I’m perpetually the before  photo

Legs marred with years of clumsy mistakes

Arms locked across my chest

A graceful curtsy to me as foreign as not spending my childhood in the woods

You were a mask I used to appease,

A forced smile and twirl for my grandma

Was sure to earn me squeals of

“Oh, you look so pretty!”

But what was so many girl’s dreams

Quickly became my nightmare.

Because, frankly, dresses,

I don’t know what to do with you

No matter how gracefully I strutted in heels

Or how perfectly my hem flared

There was a nasty little gremlin sitting on my chest

Constricting my breathing

Muttering into my ear, “You aren’t a real girl, now are you?”

If I wear a dress and converse,

I stick out like a sore heel stuffed into wedges

If I do my hair, makeup, and put on heels,

I teeter above everyone like a poorly made-over baby giraffe

If being a girl is art, dresses, I’m still finger-painting

I’ll nod to the Michangelos,

Cheekbones sculpted, lips glossed

But I’m happy with my finger-painting,

Face and hands smeared in innocent color

Willingly oblivious to what the world wants me to be.

I guess this letter

Is a roundabout away

Of saying something very simple.

Even on our very first meeting,

When I squealed and jumped around with the other girls

I was holding my breath

Waiting for the aching embarrassment

To stop pacing my ribcage.

Even at my brother’s graduation,

I was smothered by pink taffeta

I was choking on glitter.

What I’m trying to say is,

It’s not you.

It’s me.

Because me really hates you.

Goodbye, cinched waists.

Goodbye, strapless shoulders.

Goodbye, heels.

Goodbye, years of hating myself for who I was trying to become to make everyone else happy.

Goodbye, dysphoria.

I am not less of a person without you, dresses

I’m simply more me.

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