by Kristen Fuld
I remember watching my mother pencil her brows when I was a little girl. Then, Oprah said: "LADIES! It's all about the brows!" and a younger me was inspired to wax my eyebrows for ten years straight. For the last few months, I've been telling my esthetician, "Skip my brows this time," and I feel like a wild, free woman. T always reminds me "Your eyebrows are sisters, not twins," and thank god...cuz the left sister is about one half centimeter high. Filling my eyebrows makes me feel powerful, like Jackie O, or like my mother when I was small.
I remember staying after class to talk to my Honors Science teacher about my science fair project. He said, "You're so mature. You should be with an older guy...with more experience." It was the first time a man said something like that to me. So I gave up on Honors Science. I reluctantly took regular Biology (where I protested dissecting a frog) and regular Earth Science (where I argued with the teacher about the size of the universe).
Years later, I become a scientist.
Packing for a trip as an adult feels like packing for summer camp. I lay out every outfit, and imagine what to wear and when. "Practical, yet chic", I think. I remember confusing the word chic with chick. I text my best friend, "chic" with a black heart, still nervous that it will read as "chick." I remember my black high-waisted Chic jeans (obviously I called them Chick jeans) that I wore in the fifth grade with a college sweatshirt, hand-me-downs from the cool older chick who lived down the block. She was chic. I can't really remember her name, but I remember her. I wonder if anyone ever thought that about me.
I loved teen magazines. Especially Sassy (RIP), YM, and of course, Seventeen. I would check old issues out from the library and read them cover to cover. Today, relevant, thought-provoking, political, feminist articles are coming out of Teen Vogue and Elle. I feel smug and validated. I feel hopeful for the next generation of girls just like me.
I spent every night in 2002 at the 24-hour diner, drinking coffee and chain-smoking. I pushed my glasses up my nose and scribbled in my notebook. I listened to 60s music and thrift shopped. I complained about my generation: "I wish we had something to protest like our parents did! I wish I was born in a different time." Years later, the 24-hour diner gets torn down. They build a bank in its place. Years later, I march for women and I march for science.
I taught myself to run at the park near my apartment. One loop, then two, then three, then 5K. I dance and I downdog, I tuck and I squat. I work on myself. Years later, I lift weights. I smile without my teeth when people talk to me at the gym and politely say, "I'm almost done." I commit and I see it through. I become the best version of myself.
I work on a construction site where I am the only woman. I wear Carhartts, no makeup and (safety) sunglasses always. A truck driver stares at me all day long. An equipment operator refuses to make eye contact with me for a week, then one day slows his rig to ask if I have a boyfriend. I roll my eyes and tuck my ponytail under my hardhat.
The day after the election, November 9th, I was digging a hole on the side of the road with three other women. A truck that was covered in stickers supporting the current President, flying the American flag, slows down beside us. The truck slowed down so that a passenger could shout "Bitches!" at us. Three working women, collecting data, doing science. Bitches! The President is leading by example, I guess.
I wake up and I lift weights before I go to work. I spend the day collecting samples or digging a hole. I go home, put on a vintage dress and I become Jackie O. I flex in the mirror and I text my best friend a black heart. I feel lucky and surreal to be alive in this historical time. Some things might never change, but the girls like me, the bitches, we are here. We are filling our eyebrows and reading magazines, smiling with no teeth. We are working on ourselves, and it's working.
Part I of this post can be viewed here.