I Listened

I see a lot of people talking right now about quarantine weight gain. We’re posting funny memes and joking about how we’re going to roll out of our homes when all this is over, and I get it. There is a certain amount of tragic humor in the fact that so many of us are stress eating right now and many of us (myself included) are gaining weight we’ve worked hard to lose or keep at bay. But I share this today in hopes that we’ll all take a moment to remember: Our children are listening… 

They asked me why.
Why did I start purging food?
And taking diet pills?
And gulping laxatives?
And swallowing sleeping medicine each day after school
just to keep from eating?
Why did I carve an “A” for “anorexia” into my wrist?
An insignia.
A reminder,
A hope for a new identity?



I listened.

When you asked if the clothes made you look fat,
I listened.
And learned that “fat” was ugly.

When you said your breasts were too small, thighs too big, and arms too flabby,
I listened.
And learned that beauty has a standard.

When you praised your latest weight loss diet,
I listened.
And learned that food was an enemy.

When you praised me for losing weight,
I listened.
And learned that attractiveness only comes in certain sizes.

When you asked “am I thinner than her?” I listened.
And learned to compare myself to others by the measuring stick of “thin.” When you dismissed the opinions of “ugly” women,
I listened.
And learned that only the attractive deserve to be heard.

When you called her “hot” and hung on every word,
I listened.
And learned that beauty is the currency with which to buy respect.

When you said she was too heavy to win the race, play the lead, join the team,
I listened.
And learned that only the thin are capable.

When you said you’d “never date that fatty,” I listened.
And learned that only the beautiful were desirable.

When you said he couldn’t have raped her because she was ugly,
I listened.
And learned that, to even the basest of men, only the beautiful are desirable.

I listened.
And lived my life accordingly.


Rina Marie

30 days of Poetry, Day 23

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