You gotta stop lying to us. We can tell you’re lying to us. Stop telling me, “Well… someone one day will think that crooked nose is just cute as a button,” I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear the only thing that you can reassure me with is based on what I look like.
Stay beautiful. Stay beautiful. Staying beautiful is why I’ve got shaky hands and no metabolism. Staying beautiful is why I keep crying myself to sleep. Staying beautiful to me meant staying empty. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people who’ve never seen me telling me, “Don’t worry, you’re somebody’s wet dream.” I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be beautiful. I don’t want to be pretty.
Stop telling girls they’ve just got to love themselves because “Everybody is beautiful.” You say the word “beautiful” and we think of magazines. Beauty exists in each person but it’s not because you’ll eventually stumble across someone who finds you attractive. Love your body because it’s flawed, love yourself for your heart. Beauty exists in you, I promise.
It’s because when you breathe in, sweetheart, you’re swallowing four million words you could have said but when you exhale, you choose the ones that are kindest. It’s because you’ve got sharp teeth and round hips and a good grasp on video games. You’re beautiful because they’ve knocked you to your knees and you keep wiping the blood out of the corners of your mouth and getting right back to your feet. You’re beautiful because they told you that you couldn’t succeed so you strapped yourself into the fastest car you could find and told them to fuck off, that you were running away to somewhere their venom couldn’t pierce through your fingertips - you’re beautiful because you’ve got stories stacked up your spinal column, not because some dude one day is going to say, “Huh, I’d fuck her.”
Stop preaching the same few words to us. Stop saying, “You’re beautiful,” because yes she is but she’s only going to hear, “I’m only saying this because I feel bad and I have nothing else to say.” Stop talking down to us. Instead start giving out compliments that mean something. Tell me I dress like I’m a queen. Tell her that you’re more than willing to punch somebody who asks, “But weren’t you born a boy,” tell her that you are willing to protect her. Tell her you’re happy she’s alive, not that you’re happy about how she looks.
Baby girl, look down to your hands, because these are the bones that will build and break nations - stay strong, stay wild, stay free, but don’t stay beautiful. Get ugly. Get hair in your mouth and sand in your eyes. Bite the people who hurt you, draw blood. Have sex in public restrooms, laugh about it, keep notches in your belt. Kiss the girl in your class with blue eyes you can’t stop staring at, get her lip gloss all over your collarbones. Skin your palms. Moan loudly. Stop getting quiet when obnoxious people interrupt you, talk over them, talk while staring them down, show them you don’t give a shit whether or not they like what you’re saying, you’re going to finish it. If somebody calls you a bitch, wink. Be ugly. Stop tearing your sandwiches apart under the table so you can eat like a fairy. Stop trying to be dainty. Cut your hair. Pierce everything you want, tattoo the rest, roll your eyes at your parents. Don’t hide your hurt, wear it, stop thinking you’re going to inconvenience everybody. Take back this world you gave up. Make it yours. Don’t go down without screaming.
You don’t need to be beautiful. You are not somebody’s art piece. Baby girl, look down to your hands.
What’s important is that you can do anything. You have so much potential and that’s what makes you important. You are so much more than your cheekbones or the width of your thighs.
What’s beautiful is that you can make anything happen. Stop being beautiful. Get ugly.
Go be alive."
A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.
What To Do When Your Boyfriend’s Asshole Best Friend Says, “Hey, Never Trust Anything That Bleeds For Seven Days And Doesn’t Die,
OR The Only Poem I’ll Ever Write About Periods.
Don’t excuse him because he’s had
at least three lite beers
and is sweating through his black button down
that his mom or exgirlfriend
probably bought him.
Don’t excuse him because he’s been turned down
by the last six girls he went on dates with
after meeting them on tindr
with a picture that’s seven years old
Don’t excuse him because
he’s usually such a nice guy
because you don’t want to be a bitch
because you don’t want to cause a scene
because when you were seventeen
your sister told you
no one likes an angry feminist
Let me explain something to you.
Every goddamn motherfucking month since I was eleven,
a part of me
tore itself to shreds
ripped itself apart inside me
and then remade itself.
So yes, I bleed for seven days
and I don’t die
You know what else can do that?
Things of legend.
Fuck, I can even
So I say, never trust anything that can’t
bleed for seven days and not die.
You know what that makes it?
So let’s see, hon,
What you’re made of.
If you can bleed for seven days
and not die.
Rip out his jugular with your teeth.
And when he bleeds for seven seconds
spit on his corpse and say,
I thought not.