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April 22, 2012

I didn’t want to hear you say that

as you walked down the hall

next to the girl with the springy hair.

I never again want to hear you say

that you wonder

if you look fat

in those jeans.

Even if the question

was innocent,

and all you wanted was for her

to say “no.”

Which she did,

with a small laugh and a roll of her eyes.

Even though you didn’t intend

for me to hear it,

I heard it.

And what could I possibly say to you?

You with your little denim-clad stork legs

which will only get larger the older you grow?

What I did say was lost, probably,

in a cloud of ranting and raving

about how beautiful you are,

and how you’re ten,

and how you’re too young,

just too young,

and how did it come to this?

I’m sure your face was red,

but you smiled all the same

because I told you

you were beautiful.

(And how did THAT

become the highest compliment

we can possibly give to each other?)

But what could I possibly do

when my heart felt like ash

because I didn’t want you to be like me,

like us?

And you deserve better than this.

You deserve better than us

with our frantic looks in the mirror

and our trying on of seven different outfits

before we consider ourselves presentable

to the light of day.


I long to be seventy-five,

so I can walk around the world

in soft cotton sweatpants

and sensible shoes

and tell all the young whippersnappers

how beautiful they are,

and how beautiful they still will be

when they get to be my age.

  1. This is really beautiful. It’s so sad to see young girls (or anyone) when they realize how much value is placed on looks and to see them sucked into trying to meet social expectations about image. i know I’m guilty of being the role model in your poem who’s frantically looking in the mirror even though I know how much suffering these misguided beliefs are going to cause little girls. This really makes me think. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much! Yes, I am really trying to be the older role model who doesn’t say disparaging things about her body. I hope that I am the same when I am a granny!

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