Shrink | Teen Ink


April 23, 2017
By joyashford BRONZE, West Chester, Pennsylvania
joyashford BRONZE, West Chester, Pennsylvania
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving."

I have reached the unshakeable conclusion that our souls are an evolutionary mistake.

Souls, you see, are big, fat, ugly, expansive things,
stretching their shaky tendrils out to the uncomfortable parts of the universe
and pushing their stubborn feet through the neat and organized bars you use to guard them.
They have this unruly habit of taking everything I do to be a good, mature, apathetic member of society
and slowly, question by useless question, gnawing at the seams of my sewed-up reality until I can’t keep anything in anymore.
See, I hate souls because they are deceptive.

They trick and they fool you into thinking they matter- but a few fuzzy marketing ploys and cheesy Disney movies will shatter soon enough under the thud of reality.

For I am a woman.
My ideas and emotions have been little by little, slowly pushed out of this world and in on themselves into a internal catfight, a loud angry constant monotonous whining impatient inconvenient monologue.
Instead of fighting prejudice and injustice, instead of using my eyes and ears and brain and throat to help and fight for and listen to those around me, I’m busy fighting the “beauty" battle.
So if I don’t have time to help you today, it’s only because I'm too tired chipping away at myself, one word after the other, taking and taking and taking and taking until one day they’ll be nothing left. No remnant of the meaning I killed. No beauty without pain. right?
As long as I’m pretty.
PRETTY - the word my parents smiled over my little infant self, or maybe whispered, softly and a almost sadly, when my smile became a frown and I tripped when I walked,
the word my friends and grandparents and distant cousins use to tell me I’m ok, maybe because they don’t know why I would want to be anything else
the word that I look for, long for, in the eyes and smile and hands of the people around me as they look me up and down and then look away with a half-hearted smile
the word that’s screamed back at me from my laptop every day since the first one I told Google advertising I was a woman.
Am I pretty yet?
Don’t ask me why I care so much - I don’t know what I’ve been told.
Because I check the w instead of the m I’ve learn that my life is meant to be a constant pursuit of the perfect image, a constant effort to shrink and limit and fence and narrow myself because, after all, it’s knowing my worthlessness that makes me more attractive in the first place. Just ask all the 10 internet articles I found that told me how to get a guy to like you.
You see, a woman who loves herself is far too dangerous. We women ought to curb our ravenous wants and desires, to accept any persona - sweet and good-natured or cute little freak - as long as we don't seem hungry.
And I can tell you that I’ve gotten so close at last to that elusive ideal, the sweet or the crazy girl, I don’t care, as long as I can throw up the clinging remnants of unfiltered humanity and shield them in my image of bubble-headed beauty. As long as I can be the perfect faceless beau that dares to lust for only the affirmation and commands of another, it doesn’t matter what mask I wear.
I can see a crown lingering just out of reach, the bubble-hearted title that awaits the Instagram queen who can capture enough likes for her skinny smile and “troubled” captions to make all her bffs jealous. So close to the final apex of human evolution, thanks to these pills and diets and  that help me burn everything I don’t want.
But there’s just one problem - I’m still hungry. My foolish, growling, ravenous soul keeps begging for the luxury of indulgence, just a whiff of freedom and a breath of air outside this corset. Little scrawny dreams force themselves into the cracks and a few straggling questions escape my rigid reality and poke minuscule air-holes in the box that I thought was airtight.
I’m plagued by the problem of what I’ve become, and can’t help wondering whether these sunken cheeks will ever earn me the smile I’ve craved for so long. My loss of purpose slowly chips away at my resolve as I lie awake at night, and I wonder how long I can continue to shrink before I disappear. I even wonder why I started shrinking in the first place.
It’s time for us to stop. These self-imposed boxes and walls and diets and corsets are choking our brains from within and the worst part is that we chose this ourselves.
For yes, we have a choice; we have one now and we’ve always had one, and this choice is more vital now than ever before.
For today we are taught and encouraged and force-fed the glowing ideal of gaunt and tormented girls as the type that we all should live up to.
We are taught that the girl desperate to starve and shrink herself is the most humble, like a little dark angel that takes nothing from the world around her and breathes softly and leaves no mark but a few lipstick stains and a cracked heart.
But in a world where so many are struggling from poverty, from sickness, from unjust laws and oppression and hatred, how can I dare to waste my own brain in an utterly futile battle to prove I am beautiful in the most backward and twisted way possible?
How can I dare to take the potential I have and deem it so worthless as to be easily, haphazardly wasted because I’d rather pour my energy into losing my weight in this world and disappearing, bit by bit, from this fading reality?
How can we continue to waste our lives like this?
And how long will it be before our caged souls shrink to fit our small and strangled expectations?

The author's comments:

Shrink is a poem about the duality of the pressures on and expectations of women, exploring the way in which shrinking beauty ideals reflect our inability as a society to shake a craving for small and narrow feminity.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Apr. 25 2017 at 12:16 pm
isthisthetapwater SILVER, Paris, Tennessee
5 articles 1 photo 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
it's whatever

Chill bumps.