Lady Murasaki

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My name is Lady Murasaki. This is obviously a moniker that I borrowed from a badass lady, Murasaki Shikibu. She terrified men. Murasaki Shikibu was so revolutionary that she forced her father, a prominent member of the government, to teach her Chinese, which was a “forbidden” language to women because it was taught only to gentry and men. Through her unconventional education, she revolutionized Japanese literature during the Heian Period, and wrote Genji no Monogatari (The Tale of Genji). Even today, The Tale of Genji is still one of the most influential pieces of literature and pop culture in Japan. Murasaki battled gender roles and societal constrains, but she cut down every one of her opposers, and blazed a new trail for herself and her voice.

I’m a woman, and like Murasaki, I’ve been at war with my body and society’s constraints of “what my body should look like” for nearly my entire life. I’ve struggled with never being enough—not skinny enough, not smart enough, not worthy enough for love, not pretty enough, just never enough. I’ve mostly been in monogamous relationships with men who don’t love themselves. I’ve had men look at me in a bikini and tell me, at 120 lbs, I was too fat and I needed to go to the gym to lose weight. I’ve had people tell me my arms are too big, my thighs are covered in cellulite, and my belly is just too large; how could anyone love me when I wasn’t skinny and my belly sticks out? Currently, I’ve gained over 30 pounds, and I’ve struggled even more with feeling sexy—as if my playful eyes, my joyous smile, my kindness, and my fierce loyalty were all based on the scale and diminished by my belly fat. Slowly however, I’ve been learning to embrace my inner child, to sit with her and tell her she is beautiful because she is a strong.

Now, although I am far from perfect, I realize that feeling sexy is cultivated from appreciating and celebrating what your body can do, instead of focusing on what you believe you should look like. My curves, my rock-hard muscles under my soft belly and my thick thighs, have carried me through anxiety, anger, loss, fear, pain, isolation, and darkness. I am sexy because I am strong; I am sexy because I embody a warrior goddess, and like Wonder Woman, I am an Amazon in my own right. After I took my entrance exam for medical school, I bought myself the sword I used in my photoshoot. This sword hangs above my bed to remind me every day that I walked through my fear of not being enough; if I faced it once, I can face it again. I am sexy because, despite my fear, my weight gain, and body dysmorphia, I still dare greatly and try to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am sexy because, when people tell me I’m not skinny enough, I will swallow my insecurity, and wear a bikini anyway.

At the precipice of fear, when the white raging waters of doubt threaten to drown me, I still choose to jump. I am sexy because I am brave. Maybe one day, I can love myself and truly understand why I matter. Maybe one day after my showers, when I look at the steam laden mirror and trace the lines in my belly, I will feel the self-love my inner child hungers for; I will accept myself and see my value the way I always should have seen it. I hope that by seeing my body today, people will be brave enough to love themselves the way they always should have; and create a sexy revolution one bold word at a time.

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