America’s “The Beautiful”

America’s “The Beautiful”

A poem by: Elsbeth Poe

Closing your eyes
You hear a blonde
With blue eyes
American born and raised
California Valley girl
One nation, “Oh my God!”
Where women are invisible
Without a body deemed pleasant for all

You have no excuse
The sun’s up there to lighten your hair
To darken your skin
“Why are you staying in?”
“Reading Sci-fi? Is that like Twilight?”
A mind full of worlds of fantasy
Where I went to escape this society

When other girls were in bikinis
I was in shorts down to my knees
Hiding thighs I felt ashamed by
Sucking in my belly and chin
Before I reached the age of ten

With numbers jumbling in my head
Given constant reminders
Of how dumb I was then
School meant stress
And tests
All those systems
Based on competition
Made my insides squeeze
Confidence was something foreign
I could not achieve

Words like “ugly” and “stupid”
Inducing tear soaked knees
Or was my hazy brain and pain
From the lack of food in my stomach those days
For years I continued to throw it away
While my girlfriends would eat and eat all day
The same amount was weight I’d gain

“You should go out for dance or swim!”
Full of formfitting uniforms I was made fun of in

Maybe that’s why I have a soft spot
For all our patriotic jiggly kids
Especially round little girls
In a man driven world
Of “achieve and succeed”
Led to believe
The worth of a woman
Only lies in her body
In beautiful eyes
In perfect teeth
And long thick hair
In her physical potentials to make males stare

Comments about my perceived beauty
Never made me feel at ease
Why would people choose only to see
All of the things that do not make me me

In youth
“She’s so cute!”
Then suddenly
You’re a sexual object
From the age of thirteen
“They’re compliments!”
“Say thank you”
To cars that shout
And men that stare
To whistling lips
And grabbing hands
Taking Innocence
With these my widening hips

In patriarchy
The Land of the Free
Has yet to mean equality
My country made it clear to me
Girls and boys don’t start side by side
Sprinting to catch up
Like my bother I wanted a skateboard to ride
Not his face
But his interests
Were how he was defined
While I was told
My mind was of a different size

Still I never stopped running
And managed to find
This hidden word
-To regard as a thing
-Disregarding feelings

This societal demise
Violent crimes on the rise
With women not often the ones taking lives
I almost can’t blame them
When they do as they see
When men are taught they need power
Not regard or empathy

At fourteen
A tall man in leather
Chased me
Kidnap or rape
I was his for the take
Though I managed to flee
That fear cut me deep
And I knew in that moment
Strength was something I’d need

Now as girls we’re taught we’re fragile
But let’s go back again
Back as far as I remember
I longed to roughhouse with men

When I wanted to join the wrestling team
They thought that of course I must be joking
Laughing at the idea of a girl with the desire to do
One more thing
Meant for the boys
“Not you”

To this day when I strike my Rosie posie
Riveting muscles put proudly on display
They chuckle at my love to do push ups each day

“It’s not ladylike to show you have strength”
“It’s not sexy to be a woman who’s strong”
“Muscles on girls look weird and wrong”
“Don’t intimidate men”
“They prefer women thin”

But we all know that’s not how it’s always been.
Just take a look at Marilyn
American curves they used to define beauty and grace
But Hollywood only gave her the role of young blonde with no brains

In the melting pot of the U.S.A.
A melding of women of all shapes and age
A stew that’s consistent of quite the array
But yet there’s just one type of girl on display
And it’s goddamn time that fucking change

America’s the beautiful?
What a stupid form of praise.


Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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