During my childhood rambles through the woods and fields by my house, I picked a lot of Queen Anne’s Lace. I didn’t understand why it was considered a weed: I thought it was one of the most beautiful and magical plants around.
Okay my opinion on Queen Anne’s Lace hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. But I’ve gained a little more understanding about why I love her so much.
Think about it. If Queen Anne’s Lace was a delicate, rare plant that required coddling, she’d be sought after and adored by gardeners and nurseries. Because take away the weed label, and she’s really really pretty. But because she’s boisterous and strong and does what she pleases, she’s considered a nuisance and people expend a lot of energy trying to control her.
That feels familiar–am I wrong ladies?
As a child I didn’t quite understand how something became a weed, but I was very familiar with the disastrous consequences of being female and failing to conform. And when I was a kid I really wanted to conform. I wanted to please my parents and my community because I hated being in trouble or having anyone mad at me–but somehow I always managed to do or say the wrong thing. I was never pretty enough, never quiet enough, never tidy enough, to be a “proper” girl.
Ok, that’s something else that hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. I’m still not a proper girl, at least not according to the criteria of my childhood community.
I also fail in proper womanhood according to societal standards of beauty. I’m too short and round to qualify as beautiful by popular opinion. I’ve struggled for years to make peace with that fact, and to see beauty in myself. I’ve made a lot of progress. It helps to be surrounded by people who are capable of seeing beauty in many forms. But there are still days when I compare myself to all the wrong people and evaluate myself by all sorts of ridiculous criteria–and I have to remind myself that there is more than one way to be beautiful. And that I’d rather be myself than be “proper”, whatever the hell that is.
That’s probably part of why I love weeds like Queen Anne’s Lace and Dandelion so much. They’re beautiful in their own way, society be damned. Weeds like Queen Anne’s Lace make excellent allies for those of us who don’t fit neatly into the places our culture wants to put us, or for those of us who will never be conventionally beautiful. And my guess is there are a lot of us.