I was taught
about the perfect waist-to-hip ratio by the internet.
I gathered how women are a
ballet construction site. Crafted in pretty
colors, molded by rough, unkempt hands,
We are buildings in which the only rulers
are measuring tapes, and I
I knew this because in 4th grade I
was taught that I was pulled
from Adam’s rib. I was molded
for a purpose but could never be
as outspoken as him, never as boisterous,
knew there were more places for leaves to
hide but never enough to escape blame
for my body, I was wearing bras
when I was 10 and I was made to stand still
as a boy as large as I was
twisted the fabric between his fingers
and snapped it.
I didn’t say a word.
I started chewing my nails that year.
The next, I started chewing my hair,
When I lost the weight it was almost
as if I had always been rejecting
milkshakes. As if I had always been
crossing my legs and watching to see
if they expanded too much,
I fell in love with myself
because now, I was
I was allowed to.
And suddenly this beauty I had worked for
became something vicious. No longer did boys
snap at my bra but undress me with their eyes,
I was something to behold, to be held,
I went from a size 16 to a size 6 because I was
told that I was no longer worth
consuming unless I shrunk myself.
I was not given the option of
not being consumed in the first place,
So when the boy tells me he loves me
and asks me to move to the backseat,
I allow it.
Because I have always been taught that I am
meant to be devoured,
or taped up,
or put together by anything other than myself.
So I do not say I do not want it.
I do not say anything,
The truth is,
I am not disposable,
not always hourglass-shaped
twisted into defined stomachs
and calorie calculators
I am not always
going to sit still
and cross my legs for the man
sitting in front of me
while being expected to
open them for another.
There are mornings where
I am told to shut up by the
boy sitting next to me because
my laugh is just too grating
on his ears
and there are evenings where
I can’t walk around my
local mall without
hearing a “smile, sweetheart!”
and a wolf whistle
Why should I quiet
the blemished parts of myself
Just because they are considered
too messy to be seen
As if the cracks in the foundation
are not human too
I was never something to be worked on,
Never a blueprint or a doll or
a construction site
Here I am –
Worthy of love
whether I am considered
an effective woman or not.
I think back to myself.
9 years old, obese.
A boy reaches for my back, and I flinch.
There, I think of the measuring tape in my
I think of the sharpness I was never told I had.
And I leave.
Abby Pearson (she/her) is an 18-year-old poet with a passion for the human condition and pretty bumper stickers. She currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska, and looks forward to attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall.
–Art by Mick McClelland