Mental Health Awareness Week (this year the focus is body image)


The year we held a Madonna competition I was flat chested
Boys said; Asprins on an ironing board
Girls said; You can’t dance with us
The exclusion felt … hot pink and slimy
I wore black elastic bands on my wrists to hide the snub

The year he asked me out because Zoe had said no
He said; Zoe is taller than you, you look quite SQUAT
He said; Zoe has tanned skin, why do you always BURN
He said; You give good head but it’s a shame you aren’t Zoe
I threw up in the bathroom to hide the shame

The year my best friend taught me how to binge and purge
She said; You’ll soon have a waist as small as mine
She said; When you feel sad put your fingers down your throat
She said; Skinny is the new superpower for girls
I quit dance class because I didn’t have the energy anymore

The year I tried to stop giving a shit
I said; Fuck it. I’m me. I can’t be anything else I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I said; I may never love myself enough but I’m damn well not going to destroy me
I said; Hate the image in the mirror, at least love the inside
I said; Someone will always want to put you down, don’t give them the power

The next year I still didn’t wear bathing suits, I still walked with my shoulders rounded
But I didn’t have raw knuckles and I didn’t survive on the opinion of 14 year old boys

A decade later at an art show we meet again, he’s going bald
He said; You look fantastic. I don’t remember why we broke up
He said; I always thought you were the hottest girl in school
He said; Want to fool around behind this Van Gough?
I quit listening and wished I’d learned not to at 14.
What you think is important then, usually is not.
Try to love who you are. Perfect is an illusion and 14 year old boys aren’t the gospel. We don’t all have to be Zoe.

21 Replies to “14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL – For Mental Health Awareness Week”

  1. Having been a 14 year old boy, I have to say, “Damn Right!”, even though I never told anybody they didn’t measure up to Zoe.

  2. This is SUCH an important poem. Oh my goodness. I want to print out 1000 copies, march over the road to the all girls’ secondary school that I went to and give every student a copy. This should be essential reading to all teen girls and guys!

    As always your candour, your way with words, your raw authenticity, your bravery simply amazes me <3

  3. Well done to you. To have learned this by age 24 was quite a feat..
    Something I’m doing these days is acting as if I’m respected by all with whom I come into contact. I’m quite surprised by the result. It totally places the emphasis upon me, and not upon others. It has the sense of enormous self love and care! 🙂

  4. I.
    As someone who never has been able to measure up to what the world labels as “beautiful” or “sexy” or desirable, I completely identify with this.

  5. Perfect picture – spell binding little girls with icons and symbols, we should vomit their bS not be ashamed … how do we heal this mess? Tell the stories and one by one the little girls will find the answers.

  6. You have always measured up in my world. I know you and I share that, but when I saw that photo of you and your sister I thought – boy they picked the wrong sister to say she shone. I saw the light in you sister.

  7. Thank you darling I appreciate YOU I wish that we had thought this at 14 and just told them to FUCK RIGHT OFF – thank you because you know I adore you WITH BELLS ON

  8. What a great idea. So simple but so effective. I love that idea. I may well take a feather from your pile and try it on myself. thank you for that idea. And for reading this and for the kindness of reading my work xo

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