Bleeding, Beautiful Superpowers
Written by Mara Strobel-Lanka // Edited by Chelsea DuDeVorie
I am not exactly a closet feminist.
GRL PWR is a belief system I have physically tattooed into my flesh. My Instagram and Facebook accounts are littered with pictures of me waving a cardboard poster of sharpie-drawn boobies around the Capitol while marching for women’s rights. I get into arguments with men at bars over Trump, sexism, and why I shouldn’t have to give out my number in exchange for a drink. I’ve always understood that to be a woman is to be an underdog. I learned it early on - somewhere between living on my single mom’s waitress income and the everyday conditioned sexism we all know so well. I enjoy the challenge; in the way that everyone loves a good underdog story but no one is very upset or surprised when the underdog gets its ass kicked in the game.
The first time I felt Womanhood, I was ten years old on the swings at recess. My best friend asked me why my mom had so many boyfriends. Why didn’t I have a Dad? Why didn’t my mom make my lunch or drop me off at school or chaperone the field trips like the other moms? Why were we so different? I felt suddenly grown up, vastly lonely, indignantly proud, and the suspicious eyes of everyone on the women we struggled to be. It was a feeling that over time, I have grown very familiar with. A feeling I think every woman understands in some shape or form.
The feeling is one that has shaped me into my recognizable self. One I turn to every morning as I rub cocoa butter into my stretch marks, as I punch out another day’s birth control pill, as I pour black coffee into a thermos and work harder than is expected of me. It’s taken a few years, a few failures, and the wisdom of more than a few women to turn that feeling into my superpower. It has guided me through asking for my first raise and saying “no” to the first man who loved me. It’s walked me to the voting booth, to signing for my own apartment, to the nation’s Capitol for the largest march in American history, and to the bathroom for a quick tampon change. Being a woman never feels easy, but lately more than ever, it feels very, very powerful.
Last week, International Women’s Day was no exception. It was the second time this (calendar) year that I’ve been overwhelmed by the abundance and intensity of women standing up for ourselves, for each other, for what we know is right. It was a holiday that not only celebrated women, but translated our hardships from burdens to fortitudes of resolve. And while I was sick in bed rolling in flu germs that day, I had no trouble remembering the battles that had become my superpowers, the burden of womanhood that had become my backbone, my growing heart, and my GRL PWR.
International Women’s Day made me realize that I am not alone, and that I will also not change the world by myself. I will rub cocoa butter into my stretch marks and kind words into the hearts of other women like me, I will go to work, to my representatives, and to the streets of my city every day. I will do my very best, shoulder to shoulder with other women doing the same, until the world sees women not for our protests but for our bleeding, beautiful superpowers.
Mara is a Michigan native and content creator for local Jacksonville, FL boutique, Momni. When she's not styling photoshoots and writing for the Momni blog: The Boutique Next Door, or interning at local photo studio and event space Six Hundred King, you can find her sailing, dancing, or sprawled out on a beach blanket with her latest read.