My mother stares at me as I finish the last of my dinner
I see her incredulity at the idea of being full
She has taught me from a very young age
Young ladies are meant to grow in, not out.
To appease her I often pushed my plate
Offered portions to male siblings
Gave copiously to our dog
But I could never make myself small enough
At night I snuck downstairs and stole
Those filthy calories I knew I didn't deserve
And cried in the kitchen for pounds gained, love lost.
A boy in my class stares at me as I finish an explaination
Of how I feel about oppression and hate
He tells me through a joke that I'm wrong
And how dare I break the rule of speaking for myself-
How it's limited to whether or not I want to be hated or fake
I want to retaliate, fire back something as hurtful
But since I was born I was taught to absorb
Leave no sign of aggression, and smile as though I don't feel
The sting of the words that will be true as long as people laugh.
As soon as I do anything to the contrary they will mock more
After all, girls are only heard if they are pretty.
My mother steps out of her closet holding yellow patterned capris
I liked them as soon as I saw them and asked,
"Are you wearing those tonight?" smiling.
"Oh no," she says, "they are too big on me, would you like them?"
I take them from her, giving her triumph she needs
An undermining comment or two
Ought to keep her happy, and keep me away from midinght calories
And as I eat and cry and wonder why I can't grow out
Like my father and my brother and the men that take up space
I realize that I can't occupy what they are born to fill in
And still the guilt I feel for the fat and the thought are absorbed
I have problems that too many face
It's not limited to body image or self-esteem,
It's the way that I can't feel comfortable, no matter where I am
I can't be confident no matter who I'm with or what I'm wearing
I am told simultaneously that I have a voice
And yet I cannot speak; I will be ridiculed.
At every instance I defend myself, I only hurt more
The girl who doesn't know her place will be sneered at
And I have learned to be careful when I speak
I have learned to control what I think I deserve
Why is this required of me while others expand and yell?