The following poetic letter Dear Sisters is a poem on an experience of sisterhood which was written in 2020 for the photobook Dromenvangers (‘Dreamcatchers’) of my dear friend and talented photographer Paulina Januszewska. In her words, the book is “the fruit of cooperation of many women (and some men as well) [who] have posed for portraits, shared their thoughts, experiences, knowledge and creativity. It’s a testimony of what happens when we direct our energy to create, develop talents, support and strengthen each other. We strive for connection, not for perfection.” I was delighted to be a part of this beautiful project. To add some context, I wrote this letter during the pandemic in the process of a reflection on my relationship with myself and others and feminist ideas. The movie Women from Anastasia Mikova and Yann Arthus-Bertrand was especially influential on the feelings and thoughts expressed.
By Anaëlle Gonzalez (27.09.2020)
As a teenager, I learned that males’ attention was all I should actively seek.
No wonder why my power was curbed, restricted; why my wings were atrophied and weak.
I became unable to breathe deeply, to let my diaphragm expand fully, tight from holding the air, from holding my words. I was afraid of losing this masculine unanimity I had received, far from deserved, thanks to my appearance.
Dear hated belly, please, flatten; but not my breast, I ought to satisfy men.
No wonder that after twenty-five years, loving myself beyond the features of my examined shell, remains as impossible as feeling safe. As if I had learned to love the pain caused by those unattainable ideals, by that utopian perfection. Not for me, for them.
How could my eyes stay shut all this precious time to the beauty of sisterhood which was there all along? To the uplifting support from those with whom I belong?
How could I prefer the gaze of men to the presence of my friends?
I am sorry for praising your beauty before your resilience and strength.
How could I ignore this invisible bond impossible to unsee, this desire to protect one another, too often tinted by the instilled need to compete with each other?
Dear women around me; women everywhere… Your magic drives me to discover my own. Your power is unique and infinite. You fill me with hope and life. Thanks to you, I can deepen my breath and mirrors become obsolete. My fears slowly disappear, my fire is nurtured.
We do that together. Nous toutes, together.