I wrote this poem this week, because a lot of people have always told me how lucky I am to be thin. This kind of statement has bothered me more and more as I’ve gotten older, because, frankly, it’s pretty offensive. It makes me feel tiny, and insignificant and as though it’s the only thing that people notice or value about me. While I know that people mean it as a compliment, what they’re actually saying isn’t so very nice. People can be too thin to be healthy, just as they can be too overweight to be healthy. People are born in all different shapes and sizes, and that isn’t what makes us beautiful or not beautiful. Telling someone they’re lucky that they’re thin only reinforces our society’s pressure to be thin, and even phrased as a compliment these statements can reduce someone’s self-esteem. So, before you compliment someone please think about what you’re really saying and remember: there are many different ways to be beautiful.
The amount of times someone–
usually a girl my age,
but sometimes an older woman–has said to me
“you’re so lucky that you’re skinny; you’re so beautiful.”
And I smiled docilely and accepted the compliment.
But the more times I heard these
they began to build up into a wall of undeniable panic
a frenzied question of
“would they still think I’m beautiful if I wasn’t so thin?”
Every morning, waking up
checking my stomach to body ratio:
am I still beautiful? Am I still thin?
At 16 the words were so connected in my mind.
I didn’t consider the words to be synonyms
when applied to others, but when it came to myself I did.
Every morning, waking up looking in the mirror:
I didn’t think that fat would be the worst thing,
but the people around me did.
I finally started asking why
I had let this fear poison me.
I had let these facts about my body
be phrased in compliments and
let myself believe that if
I started looking different
no one would care to notice me.
To let thin define me would be
and I’m through with letting these limitations control me.
So, yes I am still “skinny” but it’s okay, because I’ve set myself free
from these ridiculous notions that this
is what is most important about me.
So maybe I am smaller than you
or maybe I’m not
but I hope you realize that it’s rather arbitrary to point it out,
because we’re not really supposed to be the same at all.
Our perception of beauty need not be so narrow
as to be defined by “thick or thin.”
I won’t let mine be so limited.
And the next time someone “compliments” me
by saying “you’re so lucky to be skinny”
I’ll look them right in the eye and say
“I may be tiny in body but I’m fucking huge in spirit.”