“Sticks and stones, Sarah.”
“Sticks and stones, Sarah.” 

This is my mantra as I walk.
To work.
Through the grocery store.
Around town.

But even as I do, I know these words are a lie.
A lie as I hear strangers say, “Wow you’re really short!”
A lie as a customer casually remarks, “Oh, I didn’t even see you there.”
A lie as last semester in seminary I was followed by a group of white middle schoolers who saw me walking down the street, decided to follow me, whip out their iPhones and record me.  

As if I exist for their amusement, their entertainment.
This is why I’ve never particularly enjoyed zoos or Sea World.
All that majestic beauty and divinity on display and made to perform at the drop of a hat for voyeuristic gazes.  

“Sticks and stones, Sarah.”
“Sticks and stones, Sarah.” 

As if this phrase will ward off cruelty wrapped in “kind” words.
Flung from mouths with no regard for how they land.
For how they pierce my skin, my body, my frame.
My home. 

My home is different.
My home is nonnormative.
My frame floating between the worlds of “almost” but “not quite.”
Confusing even me at times.
And yet…

My body is my home.
In spite of all this, I love her.
Because she has protected me.
Carried me coast to coast.
Around the world.
Been with me as I’ve experienced deep joy and exquisite pain. 

Will there ever be a day when I am not subjected to a line of questioning and commentary designed to displace me from my home? 

Or worse ableist reassurance that my height “Isn’t that bad? And that “I pass.”

As if normativity is what I am striving for.
Reaching for.
Even desperate for.

My body makes you uncomfortable.
Doesn’t it?
Discomfort is what you experience when I walk into a room.

Maybe even mild amusement as you think, “What is she doing here?”
Mistaking me for a child, who has lost their parent.
A little girl playing dress up, merely masquerading as an adult.

I see the calculations as you construct the curious and cautious questions designed to weasel out who I am and why I am taking up space with my 4’7 frame. 

Because you notice me in a sea of adults.
Subconsciously seeing the subtle reminders that I should not belong.
And I see the conscious decisions and choices you make. 

From the way the podium in the chapel is as tall as me, covers me and hides my frame.
Reinforcing which bodies should be in that space as well as who has access to it.
And it’s not mine.
It’s not disabled folk or children. 

Is it? 

To the way the tables at the welcoming mixer allow you to comfortably rest your elbows while still standing and chatting with colleagues.
Whereas in order for me to do that the table would need to shrink about a foot or so.
Again reinforcing who belongs and who doesn’t.

And yet I do.
I always have.
And I always will. 

Image via Emily Fages, Darling Issue No. 12

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