BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
Assumptions are dangerous because they hinder narratives about women. Here are a few pervasive assumptions that I have experienced and observed as an individual that identifies as woman.
If we don’t smile a lot, don’t assume we’re angry or depressed.
I’ve never once heard anyone tell a man to put a smile on. The need for women to be chipper comes from outdated gender expectations that even I have to remind myself of on a daily basis. Whenever I make this assumption about another woman, I have to check myself, because it’s something that’s been personally projected on me since childhood.
Don’t assume that it’s OK to hug us, especially if you don’t know us that well.
I have a friend that has recently begun asking her other female friends if it is OK for her to hug them. This is a powerful thing to do because it gives women more autonomy over their bodies. The expectation to hug also varies from culture to culture and household to household, and it’s important for us to recognize that sometimes girls and women don’t feel comfortable hugging in certain social situations.
Don’t assume we post selfies to seek validation from men.
People who criticize women for posting selfies and other pictures on social media are failing to look at women in a nuanced way. Social media is something that women kick ass at because it’s a platform of self-creation. Very often, women post pictures to connect with other women and discourse communities. They post them to archive the beauty of their lives, in many different spaces. Some people are assuming that women who post on social media are bored or lonely, when in fact, many of these women have used social media to politicize their existence.
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Don’t assume we’re pregnant, because we may not be.
I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed that I’m pregnant because I don’t have a flat stomach. I’ve had people congratulate me and ask me when my baby’s due. I think the worst is when people straight out ask, "Are you pregnant?!" in a tone of bewilderment. Now I believe all these people are well meaning, but it ends up being an awkward situation for all parties involved. So, even if you’re burning with curiosity or feel compelled to congratulate, please fight the feeling, because it may be wrong.
With that being said, don’t assume that it’s OK to touch a pregnant woman’s baby bump.
When I was pregnant, I always appreciated when people asked me before they touched my baby bump because they were respecting my body, my baby, and the many altered states that make up pregnancy. Most often, this was a positive experience, but it might not have been under certain situations, so asking before touching is important.
Don’t assume that we want to look younger.
I’ve often been told that I did my hair or make-up a different kind of way, I’d look a lot younger. Some women do strive to look younger, but we don’t all want to. I’ll keep my red lipstick and cat eye because it helps me feel happy and confident. For other women, wearing no make-up makes them feel the same way. This autonomy over our bodies is important, so don’t assume to know what we want when it comes to the aging of our bodies.
Don’t assume that a woman wants or needs to lose weight because she’s not your expectation of an "ideal weight."
The size of a woman is not always an indicator of health or fitness. Also, many women are empowered by the size of their body, so when we assume they want or need to change, we are adhering to a very narrow perception of beauty and power.
Monique Quintana is a contributing Beauty and Fashion Editor of Luna Luna and blogs at razorhousemagazine.com. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from CSU Fresno, and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among others. She is a member of the Central Valley Women Writers of Color collective, the Latinx Authors Collective (LACO), a Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fellow, and this summer, she will be attending the Sundress Academy of the Arts Residency in Knoxville, TN. She is working on a hybrid Chicanx gothic collection entitled, A Little Saw And Other Children Pieces and her first novel, Chola Mona Lisa, which is about a mother who mysteriously loses the ability to smile on her thirtieth birthday and begins an affair with a gang banger- turned- artist after she agrees to pose in his large video art instillation in Fresno, CA. You can find her on Instagram as @quintanadarkling.