Night Swimming

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, “Not for Ourselves Alone” is running a special series called 30 Days of Bodyshaming, designed to give a voice to the many different experiences of girls and women. This series will feature guest posts by professors, writers, a cartoonist, young girls, and mothers. Gut wrenching and honest, these stories are presented in an attempt to bring about a deeper understanding of the plight of girls and women as we make our way in world that, for us, is hostile at its best and violent at its worst.

Denise Santomauro Headshot

by Denise Santomauro


Moonbeams shine on the shameful parts,

pieces of me I cover and hide.

Surrounded by stunning bodies,

blazing perfection and grace,

my thighs and hips and round belly

turn dumpy and ugly, dimpled and wrong.


Dipping naked in the inky black water,

a dare, can’t turn it down, want to belong.

They leap and jump, arcing beauties flying.

Alone, rough dock wood cuts into my fat toes,

my lumpy curves apparent, exposed. Shame

catapults me into the murky depths.


Smooth liquid curls around parts long disposed,

discarded in disgust, masked and clothed,

embraced now with love and a sigh.

Smiling moon casts down diamond sparkles,

our whole selves serene, brilliant, glowing.


In the water, we become equal.


Denise Santomauro is a writer, storyteller, and performer. In addition to performing in a variety of stage plays in Chicago, Denise has performed in live lit around the city. She has also published several pieces of non-fiction. Denise is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

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    Juliet C. Bond is a writer and professor at Columbia College in Chicago. Her first book, "Sam’s Sister," was published in 2005, and has sold over 50,000 copies. She went on to collaborate with Newberry winner Joyce Sidman to publish the stage adaptation of "This is Just to Say." Juliet’s shorter works can be found in "The Prairie Wind," at and Juliet serves as the Welcome Coordinator for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Illinois, and has had the pleasure of working under the tutelage of award winning authors including; Jane Yolen, Jane Hamilton, Laurie Lawlor and Audrey Niffinegger. She chose the name for this space as an homage to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony whose hard work on gender equality serve as daily motivation to continue fighting for girls and women everywhere.

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