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it is the middle of the day
and i am nude,
standing in my bedroom,
looking at the full length mirror in front of me
speechless for the first time in years.

it is my birthday.
and as a gift to myself,
i have decided to tell my reflection
that it is beautiful
and that i love it.

"you are beautiful and i love you"
seven simple words that need to be said.

but halfway through, i scoff.
'you are beautiful... huh.'
because i've noticed the width of my shoulders
and the kink of my hair
my chubby fingers on fat palms

and the paleness of my legs.
my breasts are too small
and my hips disappear because
i'm too busy hugging them
hiding them
wrapping myself around them to
forget that they are there and
in forgetting they are there,
i forget that they keep me standing tall.
i have no thigh gap

and i'm unconsciously sucking everything into place
pinching and twisting and pulling at the extra skin here
the extra weight there
the rolls that formed on my back behind my back
god knows when.

'you are beautiful'


the sarcasm is there
like the moles on my neck and
the tears in my eyes.

'and i love...'
but i cannot finish it.
how can i love someone determined to shame the only body she has ever had?
rejecting the shoulders that her mother passed down
strong from carrying tradition and
the kinked hair she took from her father
that curls into spirals after she's been in the ocean
and the hands that her grandfather gave her
that he used to build houses and tell stories
the pale skin that her grandmother submitted
and that she now protects more fiercely than she did her own.


how can i scoff at this body
with perfect breasts and perfect hips
and maybe i have no thigh gap
but that's because my thighs love each other so much that they never want to part.

stop hurting this body, i tell myself.
stop pinching and pulling
and critiquing and crushing
this amazing creation that can move like a dancer
with a collarbone you could strum
and a smile that sees the light of every day.

so i try it again.


"you are beautiful."
the love is there,
like the constellations on my neck and
like the flecks of green in my eyes.

"and i love you."
because i do.

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