Gina Hatzis – Shine On
Gina Hatzis delivers a powerful speech on how she embraced her power after a life-changing encounter that made her question everything.
I’m the too-much woman, and I am dangerous, can’t you see? My truth, my words, my hips, my curves, two handfuls, maybe three. Too loud, too big, too bold, too wild, too sexy. Yeah, that’s me, and I won’t sit down, shut up, or dim, turn it off, hide away, baby.
I was born a too-much little girl in a big, fat Greek family, and I was fed compliments along with second helpings of everything, because food and words are how we love in my family. They called me “beauty queen” and “blue-eyed princess,” and mm, those words, they tasted as good as mama’s cooking. And I learned early on that my body was a form of currency, that with the bat of an eye and a sweet smile and the tilt of my head I could buy me more love and attention.
And that worked for a while. Until it didn’t, until the beauty of my body started to entice customers that I did not want in my store. And so I started to back peddle, to become small and afraid and to dim my too-muchness.
Well, I trained as a dancer and slowly came back to loving my body again, to feeling strong in my skin and confident in my stride. And on a crisp fall day in Grade Nine I was surrounded by 20 older girls who pinned my arms behind my back, kicking, punching, spitting, scratching, punishing me for my too-muchness and my love of my body. And as the blood dripped from my nose, so did the light in my spirit. And once again realizing that I wasn’t safe in this body, I dimmed it down.
Well, fast forward. I’m a grown woman now. Smart, professional, delivering a keynote to a sea of over 300 executive men in suits deciding this would be my defining moment. Once and for all, I was going to be seen, not for my body but for my art, for my craft, for what I brought to the table. So I manned up. Severe pantsuit, buttoned to the top, breasts hidden, hair slicked back into a severe bun. I even bought me some fake glasses. I dimmed down all the juiciness of my too-much body, and, yeah, I knocked that baby right out of the park, and I flew off the stage to a standing ovation thinking I had finally won the battle by dimming this body down.
And there I was strolling along in my self-celebration when I was approached from a man from the audience who asked if he could walk me to my car. And out in the parking lot, he grabbed my arm. His nails were like talons digging into my skin, and he pulled me close, very close, too close, so close that I could smell the stale coffee and misogyny on his breath as he hissed, “I have a fetish for librarian types.” Say what?
All I remember is driving fast, driving on the highway and watching my whole life fly past in front of me and ricochet off the windowsill: the shaming, the hiding, the dumbing down, the shunning, letting my hair blow wild and the tears flow free and deciding I would no longer deny the love of my body. From now on, I would dare to be seen in my all that, juicy, over-the-topness.
You know, people carelessly say, “Love your body,” but what they don’t say is, “Baby, it’s a dangerous game. People are going to shun you, objectify you. They’re going to ignore you. They’re going to be afraid of you.” And I say yes, baby, all that, yes, but guess what? Do it anyway.
You know, the church says this body is a sin. Science says this body is a machine. Business says this body is a product. But this body says I’m a freakin’ fiesta. So to all the too-much women in audience, I want you to stand up, stand up and be seen in your glory. We are not a piece of human. We are not flesh and ass and temptation. We are feminine energy with masculine force. We are sexy brilliance, and we are hot determination. We are bigger than our breasts and more powerful than our thighs, and our curve is mightier than any sword and our wit stronger than any insult. We are not here to radiant, to taunt you, to provoke, to threaten you. We shine not for your adoration; we shine because, baby, you just can’t dim the sun.