‘Shrinking Women’: A Chilling Slam Poem Nails the Inherited Gendered Politics of Size

Lily Myers, performing for Wesleyan University at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. This poem was awarded Best Love Poem at the tournament.

  • IslandTyger

    I remember my mother being so proud one Christmas. She had lost 12 pounds “without even trying!” She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer 4 months later. Oh, what any of us would have given for her to get that 12 pounds back. She weighed about 60 lbs at her death.

    • colek3

      Wow, that is a short but powerful story. I am sorry for your loss.

      • IslandTyger

        Thank you. Though I was diagnosed with it myself at age 37, while she was living. I couldn’t remember if I added that and (almost psychotically) being pissed that I gained weight during treatment. So when I read “sorry for your loss” in my email, I looked down at my chest. I am totally serious. No, I have no real ones. But I am alive.

  • jonnie

    Wow. Powerful. This inspires me to share a poem I wrote several years ago.

    Years passed
    Time went
    Children born
    Years more
    Life lessons
    Becoming clear
    Time left
    Have cheer

    How could we know

    Everyone celebrated
    A union of surface emotion
    Trouble brewed
    But minds overrode
    What hearts could have told

    No one’s fault
    None to blame
    No guilt
    No shame
    Embrace the past
    Love it too
    So that future
    Can now bloom

    Children know
    much more than we
    They guide us
    Sometimes gingerly

    Other times they
    carry a sharp blade
    And slice at us
    until we behave

    No different than
    their parents
    are they

    Reflections of
    the wounds
    we’ve braved

    Yet if we
    hear them
    loud & clear

    We know
    to have
    no fear

    Fear undermines
    all possibility

    To know ourselves
    Such sweet soliloquy

  • cj99.willingness99@gmail.com

    yet I see more men with heavier weight than women and nobody says a word. I’ve struggled with it myself my entire adult life (from 11 or 12 onwards). I even went as far as joking with a friend in college who couldn’t gain weight (he was rake thin) telling him “you can have my extra I don’t mind a bit.” the whole issue of diet, weight & such can also have health effects, I’ve seen it first hand having been diabetic for 15 years now and I can tell you it really sucks.

  • canaduck

    This is one of the most wonderful and heartbreaking poems I’ve heard in a long time.