to all of the people who call girls pretty

Right now, as I sit down to
write this poem, I am wearing
sweatpants and a sweatshirt,
my hair is pulled up.
And this is not to point and be
like “Oh! I am not like the other girls!”
Because about 50% of the girls
at my high school look just like me.
I am white, I am blonde, I am 5’5
and slouching, I really am basic.
I wear glasses and that may be
my only distinguishing feature, but
I am what everyone would call “average”
Average in the nice way.
Average in the good way.
Average in the “almost hot” way.
See, while I’m wearing baggy
sweat-clothes and I hide my hair,
under all of that, I have a body.
Some people might
consider me only a body.
Nothing else but a body.
And that is why I do this.

My mother asks me in the morning,
”Why don’t you wear nice clothes?
Why this? I can’t see you in this.
You’re drowning in the fabric.”
No mom, I’m not drowning in fabric.
I can breathe just fine. I breathe better
in these clothes than I do in anything else.
I can afford to breathe in these clothes.
I tell her it is for comfort, that I am going
school and I am there to learn, not to look pretty.

She is like,”I get that, but you want people
to think you take care of yourself. That
you take pride in your appearance.”
I take pride in my appearance.
I find joy in what I am wearing.
What I am wearing may not be unique,
but it is me, and me is the best thing I can be.

What she means by “you aren’t
taking care of you appearance”,
Is that “you don’t look pretty enough”.
“No one can you see you there.”
“The guys can’t see you there”
And I know she doesn’t want to
say it, but that is what she means.
And honestly? She is right.
The guys don’t see me.
And that’s a good thing.

Because I am one of the few
girls in my grade, in my age group,
With my body type, and blonde hair,
and big chest, and actual hips, with
 a real figure under all of this fabric,
That has not dealt with
harassment on a daily basis.
I do not get cat called, I’ve never
been whistled at, I’ve never been
touched inappropriately by a stranger,
I've never had someone drive by
and go “nice a**!”. I've never had
that issue. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Most of the people I know have been
dealing with that issue since they
were 12, since according to others
they are women, since nature has taken
its course. I haven’t, and I consider that
a blessing I am going to try and keep.
You think I am blessed by what is
under my shirt but I think I am blessed
because no one has noticed it.

Because I am aware. I understand
that this is how the world works.
I know what I have and that people
are looking at me and I don’t
want people to look at me.
That is the reason I wear these clothes.
If I wear clothes that cover all of this
up, no one is going to whistle at me.
No one is going to see it.
If I have no curves,
there is nothing to honk at.
If I do not stand out,
no one is going to step on me.

When my mom asks,
”Are you getting bad again?”
She is referring to the years I
was dealing with depression.
The years I didn’t take care of myself.
The weeks I never washed my
hair or brushed it and watched
it get matted with apathy.
I did not get out of bed for days.
I gained weight but I never ate.
I did not even care. I was too busy
trying to figure how everything worked,
why I didn’t work, why I was broken.
I never worried about what I looked like.
I did not try and take care of myself,
not even a little bit.

So when she asks if I am getting bad
again, I looked at myself in the mirror.
Do I look sad? Do I look broken?
No. I look like a survivor.
My hair is brushed,
my teeth are cleaned,
I have the best grades
I have had in years,
I am the best emotionally
than I have been in years.
I actually remember yesterday,
which is an important distinction
from years ago, where I was
unable to remember a thing.

I am saying I am healed and
you are telling me I look bad.
I am saying that I won, that I am
a hero, and you say I look like a slob.
I am looking down at everyone from
the mountain I’ve climbed,
screaming,”Look what I’ve done!”
And all you ask is why I
am not wearing a skirt.  

The thing is, if I am wearing oversized
sweat pants and sweatshirts, they will
still envision in me in less clothes.
They will picture me in tight shorts
and some random skimpy shirt.
But if I wear the short shorts and
the thin crop top, they will imagine
me in nothing but bed sheets.
Or worse, in their trunk.
And I do not want to deal with that.

I went shopping for clothes with
my mother because I had lost weight.
And no, I did not do it on purpose.
Please don’t compliment me.
Weight loss is not an achievement
but just something that happens.
They say that I have gotten skinny
but I have always been skinny and
it does not even matter if I am.
It should not matter if I
am a size 6 or 10 or 13.
It should not matter if I fit inside
the Barbie doll box you made for me.
Regardless of if it is 120 or 150 pounds,
I still have a body to hide.

So I am going to get clothes because
the ones I have do not fit me anymore.
At least, that is what my mother says.
It is probably because she does not
like the clothes that I own and is trying
to convince me to get something new.
It will not work.

Then she points out the
taboo subject- the undergarments.
The bras and the underwear.
Shocker- I wear them. We all do.
And she is like “oh isn’t that one
pretty? Do you like that?”
It has lace. It is covered in
a colorful flower pattern.
It is grown up, it is adult.
And I am 17.
I guess I am a “grown up” now.
She wants me to wear
those flimsy undergarments.
Pretty clothes under my *clothes* clothes.

No one is going to see them, I tell her.
No one is going to see that-
why does it matter if it is pretty?
She says “It just does.”
And the unintentional silent answer
is because someone might see.
I might go home one day and not make it.
I might end up in an alley somewhere,
and you want the rap***
to commend my fashion choices.
You want them to think that’s pretty.
I do not want them to think that’s pretty.

You think I would look prettier
if I wore different clothes.
It should not matter what I am wearing-
Because according to God
I am beautiful just the way I am.
According to my pastor,
I am beautiful the way I am.
According to the hundred older men
that watch me enter church
on Sunday morning, I am beautiful.
I do not want to be beautiful

When people say “You’re pretty”,
what they mean is they like looking at you.
When they say “You’re beautiful”,
what they mean is they want to touch you.
What I’m trying to say is I do not want
to be seen as something on sale.  
I do not want people to try and take me.
I want to be the item in the store
that will never get bought.
And what I am not saying that the
girl in the short shorts and
the crop top is a clearance rack.
I am saying that we are
not clothes for others to try on.
I am saying that we are more
than just bodies, just skin,
just something to look at

What I want to say to the girl
in the nicer clothes than mine,
Is that I do not think she is pretty.
I do not think she is beautiful.
I think she is courageous
and powerful and full of strength.

What I want to say is
that I am proud of her.

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Submitted by ghosti on January 12, 2022

Modified on March 28, 2023

8:29 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 7,460
Words 1,694
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 23, 10, 7, 10, 22, 13, 16, 14, 9, 10, 15, 7, 14, 12, 11, 17, 6, 2

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