The Lies They Tell You
When you’re born, they exclaim,
“It’s a baby girl”
and you’re claimed
by the doctors who check every inch
to make it’s acceptable.
When you’re five, your mother buys your first bathing suit top
because she doesn’t want men staring at you
you don’t understand, but it’s pink and you love it.
When you’re ten and that boy kisses you
sticky from the melting ice cream
she pulls your elbow, anger in her face.
When you were twelve your father told you to cover up;
that only your husband can see those parts of you.
In the bathroom, you peek and wonder
why your body belongs to a stranger.
When you’re fifteen, your mother scolds you
for letting your first boyfriend mark your neck.
Don’t let anyone touch you like that until you’re married,
You’re nineteen now, and you know your body is yours.
You tattoo yourself, loving the scratching pain
of the freedom of the ink.
Until your father scoffs
and your mother shakes her head
your boyfriend frowns.
So you get more.
And you’re twenty-two and you learn to love your body.
Every inch, even the ones you tried to cover up.
The little scar on your knuckles
from the first time your boyfriend cheated on you
and you punched the wall.
The chipped front tooth from hitting your mouth
when you laughed too hard
the first time you ever felt like you had friends
and the joy had been too much too control.
That uneven tan line
like the one you got that first summer
when you learned to love yourself
and the way you looked in a bikini
That ugly brown burn scar you got on your ankle
when you learned to fly, but fell.
Those uneven freckles
that are like constellations on your back
Even those acne scars
that made you once so angry
remind you of the days when you thought
your body was to please others
You learned to love all those scars.