Sorry

We sat next to each other in ninth grade.
When I looked at you, I didn’t see you.
I saw your
braces
glasses
fluffy hair
chubby cheeks.
I judged you as “not pretty”.

 

You started losing weight in eleventh grade.
I thought you looked good.
I heard you talk about working out.
I thought that was healthy.

 

But then you got
skinny
skinnier
even skinnier
and finally, skinniest.
Your cheeks were hollow,
No remembrance of your ninth grade chub.
Your clothes hung on you.
Your face was white.
You were fragile.

 

Then, one day in twelfth grade, you didn’t come to school.
You didn’t come the next day.
Or the next.
We got a speech
about speaking up when we see problems.
I put two and two together.
I wondered if you would return,
or disappear forever from school,
like another girl did.
But a couple months later,
We got another speech.
The news: you’re recovering,
coming back!

 

We never talked much to begin with.
We’re acquaintances at best.
But when I saw your face,
my heart danced.
I never looked upon someone’s
cheek chub with so much joy.
Your face had color!
I saw you eating!
You stopped looking like a skeleton.

 

I wondered about your journey, your recovery.
And I felt guilty for that subconscious judging
I made back in ninth grade.
Of course, I never told anyone those thoughts.
I barely even noticed that I was thinking that way.
But I bought into popular commercial thinking.
I knew too skinny is unhealthy,
but it didn’t stop me
from equating skinny with pretty.
I knew the fashion industry
encourages us to think this way
so we buy their products,
but it didn’t stop me
from equating skinny with pretty.
I knew life could be better
if we stopped thinking these thoughts
that have become second nature,
but it didn’t stop me
from equating skinny with pretty.

 

I’m sorry on behalf of all of us
that buy into this thinking,
consciously or subconsciously,
willingly or unwillingly.
I’m sorry I bought into it.
I’m sorry you bought into it.
I’m sorry our world is this way.
I’m sorry anorexic models aren’t illegal.
I’m sorry we don’t care enough to demand that it be illegal.
I’m sorry people don’t care about others enough to do something.

 

But know that your suffering
was not for naught.
It brought me
to another mode of thinking.
When I think chubby/fat/ugly,
I stop myself.
It’s not you thinking that,
I tell myself.
It’s the media
advertisements
makeup
fashion
movies
objectifiers of women.
Skinny is not beauty.
It’s submission,
saying, “yes,
I will listen to these absurd rules
that aren’t even pretty.
I will obey.
I will be conventional.”
But I will no longer
be submissive
conform
obey.

 

I look to accept others.
I look to accept myself.
I look at my thighs
that I thought were
too big
too flabby
ugly
and now I see
beautiful legs that carry me.
The way they spread out when I sit is natural.
They’re pretty in their functionality
and practicality.

 

I still have those moments
where I hate how I look,
when I don’t want to go out
because I don’t look pretty enough.
But those scenarios are decreasing,
because I will not
submit
obey
conform
I hope everyone else won’t either.






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