Posted in Feminism, Poems

(I’d Rather Be) My Own Kind of Beautiful

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
“compliments”
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
 senseless,
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.”

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3 thoughts on “(I’d Rather Be) My Own Kind of Beautiful

  1. oh, my darling girl. I am so proud of you…..and even more impressed by your OWN sense of your self-worth and your depth of consciousness….because that’s what matters most. rock on, dear girl…shine your light! xoxoxo.

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  2. I’m sorry you take it as an insult, wifey. We all know you have an amazing spirit and that doesn’t really have to do with your appearance at all. It has to do about how you take care of yourself and do what you love and make real and important things happen.

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    1. Hmm, I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I don’t take people calling me thin to be an insult. I find it upsetting and disturbing that it’s a compliment. The difference is that an insult would be if someone is intentionally trying to bring you down, or point out flaws. I’m not insulted when people point out that I’m thin, and I don’t hate being thin. I’m upset about the fact that people think that this is something that is so important about me (or anyone else) that they think they need to point it out as a compliment; that it’s something you should strive for, and value about yourself. While in fact you should value your body no matter what size or shape it is. Being thin is not necessarily connected to being in shape, being healthy or being beautiful. These are all different things, and I think they should be recognized as such. Does that make sense?

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