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Dress to Impress This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The day I was born, I bought a dress.

Or to be more precise
I bought into a dress
but yes,
I confess,
as my debut to society
I still got it
because It really wasn’t hard to come by.

I first saw it in the window
surrounded by Pink Taxed bibs,
a sparkly sign reads
it’s a girl!
it’s the birth
of a consumer generation

In the school garden
they tell me I’m a beautiful flower
they Press me between pages
the fabric of my dress
hugs my legs,
so I walk nimbly over social chasms.
I can’t afford to trip,
no one has told me that I’m still human.

13 years later I’m Turning women under 3 layers of powder
and I can’t tell if it was time or make up that’s made up
this feeling
this sense of inadequacy.

My likes and ums,
the sorries I keep in excess
Shields of protection
sewn into this dress,
they fail
onto the hard,
concrete ground.

My dress
a social palimpsest
my father’s handwriting, once so sure
now Faded
in the touched up billboard shadow of his buddy’s business.

My father tries to hold on
his greatest fears
packaged in the plastic film
of mom’s tabloid magazine.
all he says that I am not
written clearly
in the stripped, stretched, and subverted form
of my future body.

It’s part of our culture, part of what haunts her
We’ve made her an icon, made her a monster.

Because with my own money,
I spend on this movie,
I pay for my dress and all of its beauty.

Today I still own this dress and yes I’m wearing’ it.
My sisters wear it too and I suppose that it’s American,
suppose that it's imperative,
probably inherited in these genes that I wear daily.

But when I was born,
my chromosomes read double xxs and that was enough,
but now all you want are double Ds, double 0s and all I know are double standards.

You say don’t be a prude but don’t be s*****
shooting gendered insults over your shoulder - “you’re whipped”
though you’d never know.

This is the sound
tots and patriarchy sticking to your lips
this is the sound
of an uncivil war
between subject and object
between prude and w****

We exist in dichotomy
can’t operate honestly.
your words draw out doubts from my already muddled mind.

I’m held hostage to these poison standards
my status,
my social identity,
my ticket to parties,
my source of credibility.
it all balances precariously
on the soft ledge
of your loving, leering, lips

I submit.
the tip of your tongue pushes hesitation back into my mouth
I’m silent.
My voice hides under false giggles
each laugh blurring the line between my enjoyment
and my need for yours.

Everyone wants to take me out, take me home, take my innocence,
no one wants to take a stand.

And yet
know that these words
don’t belong on your shoulders,
but rather in the ground
stained with the legacies of each of our footsteps.

I’m not tryna Blame you
my intention’s not to shame you
proclaimed you,
rename you,
that’s not what it this is about

It's a system, you’re symptom, you haven’t done this to me.
Between manhood and standards you’re hardly more free.

I see that you’re sweating
crippled finesse
Cause your bulletproof armour’s
The same as this dress

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