It’s so quiet after the loud music stops playing and the curtains finally fall. I can feel myself again in the lack of sound. I can finally hear myself breathe. I’m not sure what to say.

The stage had been filled with them, though. Them: the sex goddesses. Or at least acolytes to her vast religion. She rules the world with these long, gracious legs that give me the impression of an antelope, or (if I had been more innocent), Pocahontas. Breasts of varying sizes (depending on the taste), framed hair, eyes that could hold the small universe of intimacy, and always that spread eagle saunter. She is a goddesses, you know. Goddesses are beautiful. And like Artemis, Helen, and the most lovely Aphrodite, they capture the imagination of men and artists timelessly. It is in our nature to be thus obsessed. It is beauty.

Yet…yet…a scene comes to my mind. A young girl painting her eyes alone in the bathroom, struggling to become immortal—or at least to disguise the evidence of her mortality: acne, too small eyes, thin lips, hair not quite framed right–for men dream of beauties, not of us…mortals. We do not capture the imagination or love or call for that caress of an artist’s hand. We are but normal. How could that mass majority that I belong to ever compare to the sex goddesses? Even today she rules with a hand sweeter than any nectar or ambrosia. Most of the modern world’s population of men are addicted to her assests through the internet. And then some have the audacity to ask why we women care so much about our appearance before them? It’s not because we are vain, silly, or stupid. It’s because we know what we’re up against. It is a vain battle, we know. But we all want so desperately to be loved and praised and sculpted by inspired hands. 

Who doesn’t?

I guess that was my rebelliousness as a teenager. I was furious that this was the case—that I was to be expected to be like something I knew I could never be, so why even try? I’d just make a fool of myself. I didn’t care if I was ugly or beautiful because it didn’t matter, really. I guess that’s why I refused to comply with my gender’s stereotypes and wore boy clothes instead to cover myself. Men will still be held fast by the sex goddess and those antelope legs, changeable breasts, and tiny, tiny globes of stars in her eyes. And the curves…always the curves. Any beauty I hold is just in how well I can mimic the goddess.

Despite all this, I’m not a feminist. I don’t hate men. Why should I? Most of my friends are guys and I’m even married to my best friend. But it’s…frustrating at times. Especially when I watch stuff such as Chicago or a movie where they depict the most beautiful women and reminded of my own mortality along with the star spangled eyes of men. I can only pray to stories for hope that this is not the case, because the world speaks so vastly otherwise. Please, anyone, tell me this isn’t true.

Perhaps that is why I started to bellydance. Not because I wanted to get closer to the sex goddess that I frankly do not want to become (either out of a slight envious hate or because I was disgusted with all she symbolized), but because, for once, I could glory in just being me. I could move my arms and my legs and think: goodness! Look at my hands! Gracious! Look at my strong legs! And my healthy spine that twists and turns, how round my hips are and look how they curve. Such eyes I have, for look what I can see! I can see colors and mountains and such a big, deep blue sky that reaches forever and ever. Green grass between my toes—look how perfect all ten of my toes are! There are birds and trees and I can feel the breeze on my skin like my silk veil. I can smell the bark of the oak and pine. Oh glorious God, look what I am! I’m complete! I am something! I am a glorious someone! I am…me.

There's something worshipful about being caught up in a dance
There’s something worshipful about being caught up in a dance

And then I can stand the noise at last, for it isn’t that jangles of the sex goddess. I can feel myself within the music and the loudness and the shrill of women trilling and zills bangling. I feel each joint in my body working and I know it is me– someone loved someone real– that is moving. And in that moment, surrounded by swirling cloth, feeling everything a person could ever feel, I feel, finally, desperately, at last…beautiful.

And it rings in the soles of my feet to the flowers in my hair that the sex goddess is so fake. She is so shallow. She is so small, just like that tiny universe glimmering in her eyes. The men who seek after her naked curves in the dark of their computer rooms are like the moonblinked owls in the Guardians of Ga’hoole. They don’t see the glorious daughters of God—the real goddesses– swirling in color and laughing for joy at the feel of their own limbs. They can’t see eternity in our eyes, for they are starstruck by the whore’s tiny universe—for it is indeed tiny, because sex can only go so far.

.I want so dearly, so desperately, to be something worth carving into a heart. And I am worth it, mortality and all. 

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