Why We Mourn Girlhood

Part of the problem, Febos observes, is that patriarchy has burrowed so deeply into our brains that its oppressions feel natural, freely chosen, rather than coerced. “We learn to adopt a story about ourselves—what our value is, what beauty is, what is harmful and what is normal,” she writes. “This training of our minds can lead to the exile of many parts of the self.” …

Crucially, the stress of this moment arises not only from a new awareness of constraint but from what Elizabeth Bishop, in her poem “In the Waiting Room,” framed as the realization that “you are one of them.” Them: the voiceless, hollow women, the images in magazines. “How—,” Bishop writes (she was six when she first had the epiphany), “I didn’t know any / word for it—how ‘unlikely.’ ”

By Katy Waldman, The New Yorker 

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