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I was 8 years old
the first time I ever felt ashamed of my body.
Every day, I’d sit in my room
and try to fit my two little hands
around my thigh so the fingers touched.
I could never do it.
I’ve never been overweight, but
the boys I grew up with called me
I weighed more than
That should have been no surprise.
I was taller and stronger than most of them.
But I grew up in a world that told me,
boys are tall and strong--
girls are little and delicate.
I’d wear red bows in my hair
and Mary Janes on my feet but
I never felt “girly”.
I’d play with dolls and make brownies
for my brothers and their friends but
my fingers always looked too wide
around the spoon,
too fat compared to Barbie’s.
I was never little enough or delicate enough
to fit the word “girl”.
Whenever I flipped through one of my mother’s magazines,
all I saw were
white, pale, graceful, thin women with
long necks and
clear skin and
bright eyes and
clean nails and
confidence literally radiating from their pores
and when I opened up an issue of People,
I’d always think to myself,
so, if that’s what People look like,
what does that make me?
I’ve been told by friends and family that
I don’t need to worry.
I’m beautiful, I just need to be confident.
Sit up straight, keep my hair out of my face,
push my chest out.
That’s what the world wants to see,
A beautiful little girl
who knows her worth.
Ever since I was 8 years old,
they have tried to teach me my worth.
For about 10 months when I was 16,
I couldn’t look at my reflection
when I was naked.
Maybe I was afraid that I’d look,
and see nothing.
if you saw a clone of yourself walk past you on the street,
you wouldn’t recognize them at all,
because our ideas of what our bodies look like
can completely overpower
what we see in the mirror.
I don’t know about you, but
that scares me, because
what I saw was never little.
It was never delicate.
And when I see old pictures of me as a young girl,
I barely recognize myself.
I’m sick of all the smoke and mirrors we use to call
body shaming something it isn’t.
We are teaching young girls to hate themselves.
It’s not “a phase” on their part,
it’s not an unfortunate byproduct of promoting health and wellness,
and it’s certainly not something
we should be doing unconsciously.
I refuse to make myself little.
I refuse to let someone else tell me
whether or not I am healthy, when
they themselves consider the battle
we must fight in order to love ourselves
to be exercise.
We are not meant to be starved to fit
little words like these.
You can try to make beauty a business.
You can hang posters,
run commercials and
dominate the movie industry.
You can try to brand me
as “girl”, tell me
I will never be anything more than “girl”,
and tell me how much I am worth
for every season.
But my beauty,
is too big to sell.