“perfection is the disease of a nation” –Beyoncé
I used to exist on a diet of donuts and daydreams,
because I was too tired to eat
and too short on time to sleep,
so instead I shortchanged myself,
and as the warm water of a safe shower
fell down upon me,
I let my tears blend in,
because I was taught to say yes to opportunities,
to take advantage of opportunities
I was taught to say yes to an iCalendar that
was probably ready to say no for me,
because somewhere along the way,
I learned that it was better to subsist on donuts and daydreams,
than to have what-could’ve-beens haunt you in your sleep.
I’m quite certain, the only thing I ever learned
to say no to
is high caloric desserts,
and I’m quite certain that I’d love ice cream even more
if there was no nutrition label on the side,
and I’m quite certain that maybe clothes fit looser
when calories were counted,
but I’m also certain that cashews weren’t meant to be
measured on a scale,
because I’m sick of weighing me,
and I’m sick of weighing cheese,
and I’m sick of missing crackers and carbs.
I feel a subconscious sense of pride
whenever I actually think That girl’s too skinny,
because I have a friend who’s starved herself of life
and I can see that her legs are. too. small.
which means that I am still on the right side of the
BODY IMAGE DEBATE.
Maybe I’ve sat on the border,
patrolled by Cosmo and the gents at GQ,
but no one will ever look at me and think her legs are. too. small.
and as I wish that maybe my legs could be
Just a little bit smaller,
I am grateful for this problem.
Grateful that I don’t have this leg-too-small problem.
Grateful like I’m grateful for self-serve
and queso fresco,
and the Wendy’s drive-thru at 1 am.
And I’m grateful for the way my roommates and I pretend
our “skinny” mirror is actually reality,
and it’s the rest of the world that’s skewed.
But I’m not grateful for the way I used to let donuts
fill me up,
because hydrogenated oils have never done a good job
at filling my soul.
And I’m not grateful for the line on Life To Do List,
that tells me to get a 4.0
and I’m not grateful for the validation that comes only
from another’s words,
and I’m not grateful for the way I once said
college was a waste of time,
if I’m not employed afterwards.
I’m not grateful for that.
I long ago learned how to love the world—
that I should love the world,
that the world is worthy of my love—
but I think maybe I never learned how to properly love me.
Because the Internet, and parents, and health class videos have said
Love Yourself. You are so worth loving. You are perfect.
But I’m not perfect.
And I’m wondering if maybe someone would like to add an asterisk
to the bold directives we’re given as preteens,
so maybe we could be certain that we are worth loving
* even when our jeans fit too tight,
and our mascara is smudged from the snow,
and our skirt is flying with the wind,
and we begin crying in the middle of a biology test,
and when our heart is too broken
for us to even realize it’s broken,
to even realize that there are people—professionals (or at the very least,
professional glue)—who master in putting us back together.
And we’re lovable even when there’s a minus
beside the B,
lovable even when we’re not grateful for the burden of perfection we’ve been bearing.
Because I’m sick of the amendments that don’t outright say,
but have always implied
that I’m lovable if and only if
I can proudly print my transcript
and if I fit into my skinniest of jeans.
I’m tired of treating mascara like it’s my best friend,
because I think a best friend will love me
pale eyes and all,
because I’m sick of amendments that make me late to class
as I straighten the crinkles out of my hair
and I’m sick of the war I’m always waging
as I sit through my day, drowning out talks of
history and ethics and grammar rules,
and instead think about whether or not I should
begin another juice cleanse.
Because no one has ever loved me less
for gaining a pound
and no one has ever loved me less
for failing an exam
and no one has ever loved me less
for raccooned eyes and vulnerability
and contagious smiles and snorting laughter.
No one has ever loved me less for my tears,
but I’m tired of crying anyway.
Because it’s easy to love donuts,
and though I do love me,
it’s not always easy to remember why
I love me
because I subsisted on daydreams of a world where
no one will care if there is visible skin
above the waistline of my jeans,
but I awoke to reality where I was taught that the
world is worthy of my love,
but I am not worthy of the world’s love for me.