The image appeared on my screen at work last night, the words “Vanity Fair” with a picture of a woman with perfectly shaped breasts and white silk corset-looking top. I swiped the message right and opened it. “Call me Caitlyn,” the tabloid read. I stared at the image for a few seconds, quickly catching on to the transformation that had taken place.
The three words, “Call Me Caitlyn,” stuck with me. The words are simple, soft, and innocent, yet they mean something so much more complex and powerful. Who am I? I asked myself.
My name’s Beth, not short for Elizabeth. I’m a recent college grad with an uncertain plan for the future. I love all things involving dogs and a plane ticket. I am a woman with a passion for writing, success, and overall happiness. I’m 5’6 with an athletic frame and below-average sized breasts. I am a woman, I am straight, I am brunette, I am me. This is how identify myself, but I know I am so much more than what my keyboard will allow.
Society is accepting of these superficial identities, but why does the acceptance only stretch so far?
I have been told to “be myself,” by my family, friends, and by complete strangers plastering cliche quotes on my news feeds. I have always been told to “be confident” and to “love myself.” Superficially, “being myself,” has been relatively easy since my identity falls parallel with societal norms. But, I’m struggling finding an accurate definition of “being myself,” because don’t we all fall victim to conformity at some point?
Why does being a straight, average-sized female born with a vagina define my entire existence? Who exactly am I proving my identity to? Too often we identify with who society wants us to be, rather than who we actually are.
The transgender community has been on the rise for several years, and the movement is growing exponentially. Society has loosened their grips on the gay community and the rights of women, but it’s time that we completely extinguish the limitations of being yourself.
I am more than what my keyboard will type out. I am more than a vagina, I am more than a woman who prefers sex with a man versus sex with a woman. I am more than a college grad with an uncertain future. I am more than what my label defines me as, just as Caitlyn is more than just Caitlyn. Release the limitations of tolerance, and start accepting beyond what society has normalized.
Own your identity. Be who you want to be, not what society defines you as. After all, there is truly nothing more beautiful than being exactly who you are.
Bravo, Vanity Fair, for capturing the genuine side of beauty we too often forget about. And bravo to you Caitlyn, just for being you.