For all my women friends, and maybe especially my younger friends, the following poem by Claire Braz-Valentine is for you – for us (Claire was delighted to give permission for me to run it):
The Last Will and Testament of This Woman
To every woman who is my daughter
To every woman who is my sister:
I will to you first of all, my diets—
my grapefruit diet, my orange diet, rice diet, wine diet, water diet,
banana diet and fasting diet.
I will you every time anyone ever said to me, “Have you ever
thought of going on a diet?”
I will you TOPS clubs, Weight Watchers Clubs, Pill Pushing
Doctors, amphetamines, water pills, thyroid pills, and laxatives
that I have known
and I have known many—
I will you all the times I wished the scale would say 125 instead of 145
I will you a living girdle,
an eighteen hour girdle,
a four way stretch girdle,
a two way stretch girdle.
an I can’t believe it’s a girdle girdle,
a rubber girdle full of holes that “breathed” when I couldn’t.
a girdle with legs so tight I left it in the public bathroom in the waste-
a garbage can full of girdles,
And the day a man told me, “You got an ass that could kill a man”
And all the time it was killing me.
I will you my bras,
my bra with under-wires that pushed me up,
my cross-my-heart bra that pushed me out,
my padded bras that made me fuller,
my natural bras that made me natural,
a garbage can full of bras—
a dresser full of bras—
and the everlasting indecision about whether to or not to.
I will you something called a Merry Widow
which is something like an iron maiden.
I will you all the tears I cried lying on the bed at six o’clock in
the morning after my junior prom,
trapped in the damn thing
till I thought I was squeezed to death
And my mother finally freeing my tortured body.
I will you my diaphragm that didn’t fit,
that got stuck,
that got a hole in it,
that I forgot and wore for a week.
I will you my diaphragm pregnancy.
I will you my coil that made me bleed every day for a year.
I will you my bow that made me bleed every day for three months.
I will you my pregnancy that I lost because I bled so much.
I will you my birth control pills
that made me throw up,
grew me big breasts
and then spots on my face
and a terrible case of nervousness
and a good start on a beard.
I will you my douche bag
filled with lemon flavored scents,
mint flavored scents,
flower flavored scents,
washed rinsed and flushed with flavored scents.
I will you all the foams and jellies and sprays
and suppositories that I was ever
tempted to insert into that most mysterious warehouse of undesirable
I give you them all.
I give you them all.
I give you my false eyelashes
my pancake makeup
my eye shadow
my mascara that made my eyes bigger,
that made my eyes darker,
that made my eyes like a distorted clown
when I cried.
I give you every ad I ever read
that made me think I needed these things.
I will to you every bit of shame I ever was made to feel
about being the woman I was born to be.
I will you all of this
in the hopes that once you have all these things
you will realize that you don’t need them
much sooner than I realized that.