Poem: Abandoned Self-Portrait no.156

Kind brown eyes 
           Massive thighs
Shapely lips 
           Excessively-wide hips

Right. Let’s start again…

Flowing, glossy dark brown hair
          Lumpy, saggy bits everywhere
A smile that radiates love and care
          Boobs a ridicul—
Okay, enough, let’s not go there.

Why can’t I write one nice verse,
One line, one word about myself
Without you butting in?
          That depends on the word.
How about ‘beautiful’?
Surely it doesn’t only belong 
To the visually pleasing?
What about the gorgeous-withins?
          But what you are inside
          Isn’t the subject of this portrait,
          And supporting your claim to beauty 
          Would mean helping you to tell a… 
          Porky pie 


So what words am I allowed?
          Ugly. Stupid. Lazy. Greedy.
          Loser. Failure. Burden.
          Disgusting. Slobby. Pig.
          We can go on…
Please don’t.
These words you speak
Like they’re so original, so clever,
I’ve been hearing them forever.
They have echoed in my ears
For as long as I can remember.
Words flung at me,
Explicit, implied,
From mouths all around me
And countless pair of eyes.
Children, adults, in-betweens.
Loved ones, strangers, in-betweens.
Professionals with a duty of care.
          Suet Dumpling

Okay. Fine. I give up. 
I will choke down the ‘beautiful’
That dared creep onto my tongue.
I can pretend for a second,
Try to use the artist’s licence,
But they are always there—
The voices, the critics—
Poised to remind me
That I
Am not entitled to the B word,
And that I
Am in a battle I cannot win.

          Oh, but all is not lost.
          You could be beautiful, you know.
I could?
          Oh yes.
          So very beautiful.
          If you were thin.

The story behind the poem

I have struggled with my weight my entire life, so it is a subject that often shows up in my writing. This poem began as an attempt at a positive self-portrait many years ago but as soon as I drafted it, the internalised fat-hating voice piped up and started telling me what a joke it was to write nice things about myself. Confidence undermined, I ended up hacking away at the poem until it was in complete tatters. Rather than abandoning the poem altogether, however, I decided instead to have a go at capturing just how the portrait came to be shattered. I’m not sure if I’ve done it as well as I would have liked to, but when the essence of this poem is a cry against the tyranny of perfection, it seems only right to share it as it is, imperfections and all.

2 thoughts on “Poem: Abandoned Self-Portrait no.156

  1. Aww Nazira! YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL! This poem is as heartbreaking as it is likeable. Well done for capturing that snide, sniggering voice that interrupts your thoughts. Try again! Good luck with your positive portrait. Positive self-talk works. Don’t let that voice in! Lots of love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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