In Beyonce’s song “Flawless,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie starts out with “we teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.” She goes on to talk about success, ambition and life choices. I understand that in this sound byte culture it’s advantageous to be concise. And some people had never heard about her before so this was a wonderful introduction.

But let’s chat about this “shrink themselves” part because it’s powerful and pervasive. Women are taught to literally take up less space in the world: loose weight and stay small, you’re taught (in so many ways) to be shorter than your spouse, a deep voice is unattractive, so is walking with a wide gait, you’re labeled “bossy” or “a bitch” when you assert yourself verbally, cross your legs when you sit, and the list goes on….

This is a reality that we don’t have to ascribe to. Understanding our world give us the agency of choice.

You’re already taller than other children your age. Since both of your parents are 5’10, I’m sure this will be the case for a long while. As women, it tends to take people aback. You will learn that when you enter a room, your presence is both seen and felt. Remember, your stature is a gift from your ancestors. Stand tall, Aya Shakti. May you never shrink yourself. Take all the space you require, all ways.

 

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