This is the Definition of Beauty (This is the Definition of Pain)

The following poem centres around the idea of body image. It also focusses on an individual’s personal definition of beauty. It explores the struggles young women often go through–though this is an issue that affects both males and females–when it comes to trying to attain the beauty standards that have been laid out before them. Whether these standards come from the influence of peers, the media, or one’s own perception of self, pain often accompanies the desire to be beautiful. That’s what this piece is about.

I’ve been wanting to write a piece about beauty and body image for a long time, but I’d been struggling to find the right words. It wasn’t until a few days ago, actually, as I was skimming through one of my journals, that I found a source of inspiration. It was a one-liner that read, “Sixth grade: the year I learned to hate myself.” I’d written this a couple of months ago in my creative writing class when we were told to write from the perspective of our past selves. This line was written in response to this prompt and was inspired by my junior high, sixth-grade self–a version of me that really struggled with her body image. Thus, a poem was born. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

-The Girl with the Purple Soul


When I was eleven,

the Popular Girls in my class told me

that if I wanted to get a boy to like me,

I had to be pretty.

So I traded my sweatpants in

for a pair of  jeans and a mini skirt,

wore my hair down

instead of up in a ponytail,

brushed my lids with

dark blue eyeshadow–

all in an attempt to be Beautiful.

I was in the Sixth Grade then.

I should have been playing with dolls

and jumping rope.

Because that’s what little girls

are supposed to do.

Because little girls aren’t supposed

to play with flat irons

or read Teen Vogue 

for the latest Beauty Hacks

when they’re in the Sixth Grade.

Sixth Grade.

It’s a year I’ll never forget.

Because that was the year I started caring about appearances.

That was the year I learned to hate myself.

***

I spend an hour and a half on my makeup

every morning,

a tedious routine of

Moisturize, Foundation, Powder

to cover up the acne on my forehead

and the dark circles under my eyes.

But no–we’re not done yet because there’s still

Blush, Gloss, Liner

to bring colour

to this blank complexion.

And once I’ve put my face on,

well, hey, I don’t look so bad.

I look OK,

maybe even decent.

But then I get to school

and they’ve ruined it because

“You have lipstick on your teeth.”

and

“Your mascara is clumpy.”

Defeat.

But the next day I try harder.

So hard that I

burn my hand on the curling wand

when I go to do my hair.

So hard that I

subject myself to the torture of wearing

high-heels that nip at my ankles

and blister my heels.

But I remind myself that

 five-foot-three means I’m below average

 and below average isn’t Beauty.

And I guess it’s true what they say,

that Beauty is Pain.

But there seems to be a

little bit too much ouch!

and not enough pretty

I am not Beautiful.

I

I…

I do not know what I am.

All I know is that I

can’t bear looking at myself.

Not in mirror, and I

avoid cameras at all costs–

the camera adds ten pounds,

doesn’t it?

Yes…

But only when you’re

fat.

Because the other girls look just fine,

(Better than Fine),

in their Instagram selfies.

With their plump lips,

porcelain skin

and petite noses.

I’ve never liked my nose,

how it’s always seemed

too big for my face.

But maybe I’ve never really

liked anything about myself.

My parents tell me I’m delusional,

and my friends think I’m ridiculous

for believing this.

“You’re beautiful.

Stop putting yourself down.”

But I can’t help but think

that they are all lying to me

because sometimes you have to lie

to spare someone the heartache.

Because they wouldn’t be very good people

if they admitted it, if they said,

“You’re right, you’re not Beautiful.”

I am not Beautiful. 

These are the thoughts

that tear me apart,

pounding my self-esteem into

dust, into non-existence.

But did it ever exist in the first place?

I try to remember

when this all started.

I  count in my head.

Five years.  

Five years…

Five years later, and I’m

still trying to be Beautiful.

I’ve given my

blood and sweat.

I’ve given my tears,

tears that make

the mascara run down my cheeks.

Tears–

because I hate feeling like this.

I hate feeling so…

Ugly.

***

When I was eleven,

I was determined to be Beautiful.

Because that was the only way

to get a boy to like me,

They told me.

But looking back now,

maybe it was about more than

just a boy.

Because to be Beautiful was

 (is) to matter.

I wanted to matter.

So I decided that I needed

to change.

And that’s what I did.

Changed my clothes,

and my hair.

My face…

That’s why I played

with flat irons instead of dolls,

why I read Teen Vogue 

instead of jumping rope.

 Because I thought these things

would help make me Beautiful.

But they say that Beauty always

comes with a price, doesn’t it?

And my price?

My price was my childhood.

Because I never gave myself the

chance to be a little girl,

never gave myself the chance

to be a sixth-grader.

The Sixth Grade…

It’s a year I’ll never forget.

Because that was the year I started caring about appearances.

That was the year I learned to hate myself.


A haunting exploration of body image, this is the song I often listened to while working on this piece.  All the images incorporated into this post are also related to the singer herself–Melanie Martinez.


Image sources: https://67.media.tumblr.com/bf269f78d1f088aeed702c5d9011eb88/tumblr_o4yk03hQIw1vq2zy7o1_540

https://images.rapgenius.com/a83bc156d2a4abd78f8843a0a8767de1.534x532x1

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ba/58/7c/ba587c3453199e64419a9b0bf08ffa58

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Lost Friendship

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Author’s Note: Being someone who’s transferred schools and is always anxious about talking to people, I’ve often drifted apart from my friends or lost contact with them. I was thinking about this idea over the break and ended up writing two separate poems on that topic. One poem is on a dying friendship and the other is on a pair of friends I completely lost contact with.
By the way, I only read the first poem during my presentation. 

Continue reading “Lost Friendship”

an open letter to a lost friend

you don’t know who
you are
and if you are reading this now
it likely is not you

I am writing this in response
to the overwhelming hole
I caused
within my own heart

a heart that was blackened
by darkness, shrunk
and shrivelled by the
urge to cast love away

you see, old friend –
the first thing that books
never tell you
about depression

is not the loneliness you
feel inside
(lord know I know enough
of that)
but the loneliness

you create around you

the loneliness that made
me push you away;
afraid of exposing the darkness
within

you may ask:
“why did you keep silent”
but what you may
never understand

is that opening up
about the darkness
is far more treacherous
than keeping it hidden because

you can wrap a cold
heart in silence
until the broken beats
disappear from fuzzy ears

and for this reason
I never told you, friend

and for this reason
I have lost a friend

I am better now
my heart is healed
no longer wrapped
in patchwork fabrics of

silence loneliness lethargy

but the place where
the blackened heart
lay
is the place where our

friendship is buried today
wrapped
in patchwork fabrics of
silence silence silence

I am sorry friend
for the unanswered calls
and texts
the cancelled plans

and the lump
in my throat when I
talk to you
the lump that is there

because I don’t know how
to speak to you
without wanting to
burst out in apologies

and explanations

maybe, friend
you may never know
how you still kept the
darkness at bay

even though I never
gave you a chance
to know that
it existed

so thank you, old friend
for healing my heart
without knowing it’s
terminal illness

and I plead
that you may read
this and know
that it is you

you, my friend,
I am indebted to.

~a friend

*I wrote this at 2:00 a.m. Under the influence of a caffeinated influx of emotion, so I apologize for the vomit-esque style and flow.

The Two of Us

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Author’s Note: I’ve been seeing all of these quotes and such talking about how heart over head or vice versa is the better path to take. However, I’m rather fed up with seeing all of these graphics, quotes, etc saying that, because I really think that the whole situation is subjective. If someone prefers making decisions according to their emotions, then it’s their choice, and if someone is more driven by logic, then it’s their choice, and there really is no need to bash a person for thinking that way.
Because of that, I more or less started writing out conversations between two very different people. One, a girl who is highly logical and driven by reason, and another, a boy who is highly passionate and emotionally charged. I wrote this because I wanted to point out how different people can be happy living a lifestyle that may be the idea of ‘bad’ to someone else. I’m kind of sick of people saying that everyone should value passion over logic or vice versa, because if everyone really did think the same way, our world would be a terrible place.
This piece isn’t meant to be romantic in any way, the two characters are just the opposite gender to help differentiate them from one another.

Continue reading “The Two of Us”

Insomnia (5:55 AM)

This piece is dedicated to all the nervous, sleepless nights I have endured. We’ve all been there. Sleep is an escape from all of life’s anxieties.  So tell, me what is one to do when they are unable to sleep? Thank God someone invented sleeping pills, huh?


Liquid-Blue-Lullaby,

sing me to sleep,

or else I won’t rest.

Counting sheep doesn’t work

anymore;

this mind’s been too

busy to count,

these thoughts are too

chaotic for order.

These lids are heavy,

but they refuse to shut,

and every time I begin to fall,

I am jolted awake by the sound

of my heart palpitating

against my ribs.

I accept that fact that

I will be up before

my alarm clock goes off

at six AM.

It is already 5:55.

It’s been 32 hours since I last slept.

 

Swollen eyes stare up at the ceiling,

defeated.

I think I’ll call in sick

tomorrow.

Skull pounding, legs shaking,

I tiptoe to the kitchen,

open the medicine cabinet,

 and reach out–

mama always keeps

the good stuff on the top shelf.

I pop the lid,

lay you in my palm.

I stare down

at you, liquid-blue.

And I can hear

you humming.


Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/124200902201176918/