Tag: #nationalpoetryday

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?
          <snigger>
          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 
          <snigger>

<Sigh>

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.
          Whale
Words flung at me,
Explicit, implied,
From mouths all around me
And countless pair of eyes.
          Elephant
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
          Fatty 
Am not entitled to the B word,
And that I
          Fatty 
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.