Youth and beauty are not accomplishments

I wrestle daily with identities slapped onto me with little care or thought. People refusing to see beyond my exterior, certain my essence can be boiled down to a single identity.

And I struggle with waning identities, slipping from my grasp. In equal parts, I shed these identities and rail against their disappearance.

And where does this leave me? A fucked-up 40-year-old, detangling years of identities that cling to my existence.

Most my writing explores identity. Particularly, my intersecting identities of being female and disabled and a mother. I feel caught between a young girl never allowed to blossom in her organic brilliance, and this aging woman not always sure who she is.

Youth and beauty are so desired in our society. We push, pull, tuck, shrink, freeze, sweat and cut just to retain ideals of youth and beauty. And for what, I ask.

“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary bi-products of DNA.”

Carrie Fisher

This quote speaks to me, beckons me, holding me in its embrace. It provides a lifeboat for me to rest in as I struggle in an ocean full of labels rising and crashing, trying to pull me down.

Carrie Fisher wrestled her own demons. Her writing is lyrical, beautiful, present. Her’s is a voice we lost too soon. But this quote, in all its sarcasm, points a finger at all we hold dear. Fisher is exquisite in this. Her writing often holds a mirror up, forcing us to confront uncomfortable truths.

This quote encapsulates what I explore in my own writing at this moment in time. Constantly reflecting and refracting, holding a mirror up to everything I know, feel, think.

And this is what I attempt to accomplish in my own writing, for myself as much as anyone else.

By Imperfection

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter is a mom and writer from Omaha, Nebraska but recently relocated to Urbandale, IA. When she’s not chasing children, picking up messes or reorganizing the house, she enjoys yoga or reading to relax. In her spare time (A.K.A. her dreams) she’s a Broadway star. Kuenning-Pollpeter is a freelance marketer during the day, a creative writer at night. Her work has appeared in the Brevity blog, The Omaha World Herald, 13th Floor, Misbehaving Nebraskans, Hippocampus, Emerging Nebraska Writers and Random Sample Review. She has her BFA and MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her essay “The Body” was a McKenna Fellowship finalist, and her essay “Imperfection” was a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee. She is blind and writes frequently about disability. She’s working on a memoir about the disabled feminine experience. With the kids though, expect it in stores in about a decade.

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