*Content Warning: This piece contains references to sexual assault, which may be triggering to some.*
I was recently was given the honor of reason m collage in a national level pageant and surprisingly I decided to accept. Even before the assault, I was never the most feminine in the traditional sense you see or think of females. Probably because I didn’t give myself time to explore all the parts of myself and my expression.
Then I went to college and suddenly I began to discover more of myself, discovering parts of me that didn’t fit neatly into the “lazy tomboy aesthetic” I had grown so used to putting myself in; as well as allowing others to put me in. I recovered a part of me that wanted to try skirts, and play in makeup. A side from me and my womanhood that both scared and intrigued me to want to learn more.
Then everything stopped after the assault. I lost connection to the stereotype that I created for myself and with the new parts of myself. For a while, I settled into my new self; thinking this was the way I was going to be forever. My self deprecating philosophy was that if I was to be my old self that would make me a target once again, since I was that person when I was targeted.
Then trying to be the girl that I was playing with brought concerns of being too much like a woman and becoming an even bigger target. I say all that to say that accepting this position as a representative, as queen, for my school on a national level was not done lightly.
But starching on the corner of my consciousness, the memories of my the excitement I felt exploring myself and all the beautiful parts of it. So I decided to get back to it.
I thought participation in this would not only give me better guidelines to go by, but as well as a clear image of what womanhood/femininity was.
Instead, I was greeted by amazing fellow school queens who showed me that being a queen – and by extension being a woman – did not fit neatly into a box or guidelines. That it changes and evolves to differences on everyone. It was beautiful and confusing all at once.
Meeting a queen who was a surviver, a queen who was just as marked as I was, a queen with a struggle not usually discussed, and so many more.
My experience yes, pushed me and my comfortability boundaries around femininity and calling myself a queen. But also pushed me allow myself to think of queens in a wider outlook and understand that we are all “that girl.”