Are you ready for this?
Hairs march up my belly
and circle my tits.
There's more on my chin.
And here's where I'm brave:
Each and every morning
I'm fucking forced to shave.
My husband doesn't know...
or pretends not to see.
My thighs must distract him,
since they're as fat as can be.
But, I'm happy as hell,
as sexy as sin. And
Salon still loves me,
despite the shape I'm in.
-- M.J., Chicago
They say that motherhood
Is unsexy by nature,
But I have never felt
So sure, so strong, so dangerous
As I do now, ten years
After my son remodeled my body
Giving me stretch marks, cellulite
And soft, plushy curves
Where I never wanted them.
Oh yes, they once said I was a beauty,
Stick-thin, tanned skin stretched
Over chiseled bones,
Perfection without orgasms
Because I cared more
About what men saw
When they fucked me
Than about how I felt while they did.
Thirty-five stubborn pounds later,
I finally come
To know that how I feel
Is what mattered
-- Ann Regentin, Ypsilanti, Mich.
My hair is white
My dick is bent
And sad to say quite mellow
My nails are stained
And so my teeth
I'm not a pretty fellow
I wash and wash
And yet there is
this fundamental odor
My poop runs out
like black bean soup
Except when hard as mortar
My mind is sharp
My fingers cold
My friends all gone or going
The river sphinx
Around the bend
My arms still strong for rowing
-- Austin Porter, Falls Church, Va.
Crispy french fries or skinny thighs
Is revealed by my pants size
- - - - - - - - - - - -
I have gained ten pounds since we met
but my husband has not noticed.
I will try to remember
not to decry
his lack of perception
when I get a kitty cat sweater
for my birthday.
-- Jillian St. Charles, New York, N.Y.
It was my red nose, that mole,
my tragic disfigurement, like
an extra finger or a prehensile tail,
glowing like a Christmas bulb
on my little white belly, too
high for my swim trunks to
hide, a shame I could not contain
or cover with smart answers or
bons mots, not in summer. It was
angry, sullen, the sort of flaw
that made you unmarriageable and
sent young children scurrying,
slapping wet footprints on hot
concrete, to mothers in lawn chair
waiting to catch them up and
comfort them with beach towels.
Today it is tiny, buried in hair,
and only the memory of its
former enormity remains,
proof that even our most hopeless
problems diminish with time,
and small things grow
large; I speak of myself, or,
at least, my white belly.
-- Ken Honeywell, Indianapolis, Ind.
With every spring,
as the west wind snaps flags,
my hair is blown less;
fewer strands remain
to catch the breeze.
Stranger than this is
that any strands are left
after the shearing of genes and seasons,
that the locks I have
still proclaim themselves among
banners in the wind
above the ground.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
6 a.m., 35 Years Old/
Each morning narrows in its scope.
Hair and gums recede, like hope.
--J.D. Smith, Washington, D.C.
My boyfriend left me.
I sometimes think: if I lost
Weight, would he come back?
-- Jeffrey Wong
MY ASS SAYS "HELLO"
from where it all of a sudden hogs the mirror.
My ass wants to take me shopping for larger sizes; it begs
me to give up jogging, cries "Enough with the butt-tucks
and iceberg lettuce!" Almost forty, and my ass
has finally found its voice. "Who else do you know smiles
so much?" it asks, flashing its dimples.
My ass is smart and philosophical. It likes Russian novels
and Kurosawa films (Sometimes it sits through them twice).
It has lots of friends: those martyrs, the breast sisters,
the grinning pads of flesh that ride my knees.
After services at the First Church of St. Isaac
Newton, they all meet for brunch on Sundays.
They order eggs Benedict and gossip about my tiny wrists.
I'd like my ass better if it gave me some privacy.
I can't even make love to my husband
without it butting in, without its bawdy asides and dirty jokes.
Next thing you know, it's got the rest of them cracking
up, and that quiver of silent laughter (My ass
is such a ham) has me shaking from head to toe,
till even the little hammocks of my upper arms are swaying,
and the mood is ruined, so my ass, full of itself, heads
downstairs for a chicken sandwich, heavy on the mayo.
-- Tania Rochelle, Atlanta, Ga.
My boobies are big
I like to soap them in the shower
and when I jump up and down
on a trampoline
they hit me in the face
and I feel free
oh, hell, I'm lying
My boobies are small
but my butt is big
thank you God
for your sense of humor.
-- Kathy Hepinstall, Venice Calif.
I pray that I may someday see
A day when I don't lash at Me.
I've only ever dwelled on flaws
Even when Hugh Hefner called.
No woman dreams of growing old
When options and desires turn cold.
You're ushered from the sexpot stage,
Replaced by women half your age.
I'm not a kid, that much is true.
I'll admit what I don't like to you:
Ripples, wrinkles, dread weight gain
And veins and veins and veins and veins.
The hardest thing for me to share,
Is that, deep down, I really care.
I will confess I'm shocked and pissed,
A feminist who thinks like THIS?
There's got to be a better way
Than options that I see today:
Get lifted by credentialed butchers,
Or find my own lil' Ashton Kutcher.
I long to change, I do submit,
So to this goal I now commit:
To exalt my form, and ban self-hate
As I stare down the barrel of 38.
With self-regard so raw and recent,
I'll start by saying one thing decent:
Pardon the lame Seinfeld vernacular,
But yes, they're real, and they're spectacular.
-- Lily Burana, New York, N.Y.
This line is the jokes you used to tell at sleepovers,
this one is learning calculus,
this is every movie that ever made me cry,
this the infant game of crinkling my nose at my niece,
this the first time my grandfather didn't know my name.
At night my lover traces my wrinkles over and over, a fingertip slide that maps our
-- Joanne Merriam, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
When I was in high school
I lifted weights competitively
And ran track and cross country and played soccer
It wasn't because I liked sports
It's because I didn't want to be fat.
Now I'm 24.
Out of shape, but smaller than I was then.
If I could go back in time and talk to that insecure 16-year-old girl
With her baby fat still clinging to all those super-strong muscles
I'd tell her that lifting weights actually makes you bigger
While chain-smoking cigarettes makes you smaller
So it's really best not to give a shit
And just do what you like in life
Just do it.
-- Jessica, New York, N.Y.
I wanted to live in a magazine lean
shoulder-driven, stripped-back, six-pack
body, all hard angles and triangles,
to try on a waist, tight butt and thighs.
Hungrily I pounded out lost pounds,
ached my muscles, made my mistakes,
shaping life into a joint-jarring world.
For all that effort, tired, stiff and sore,
my edges make respectable curves,
my midlife midriff is solidly mid range.
The experts agree: just more work.
But as I sweat, I see my ideal body
on others who look more comfortable;
They can keep it.
--Simon Terry, Melbourne, Australia
In a word, that's this body -
built from peasant stock.
Work the fields, have the babies in
the cold Croatian winter.
Big round hips and ass,
big sturdy legs and
Ruddy raspberries-and-cream complexion.
Light light eyes and
Norwegian hair. Don't forget
Never knew what it was for
til I had my baby.
He set this body free.
-- Kristin Topel
Chestnut Brown 112A
we've all done it
or we're going to
even the purists among us
for whom every stretch mark
is a badge of honor worn.
even the women
where Miss Clairol
was never invited.
even those die-hard
fems among us
whose resentments vomit
disdain for the slightest
thought of possibility
and not even knowing why,
staring full frontal,
on the wall
to the smooth skinned girl
-- K. Hollister, Chicago
I love my face -- I think it's fine
Don't know how others find it.
Just for me it works quite well
Perhaps 'cuz I'm "behind" it.
-- M. Lake, Becket, Mass.
Half awake Weightless
I dream myeslf into perfect postures
Lotus, Cobra, Locust
Open, strong, torso-exposing Goddess
All linked in labyrinthine
A masterpiece in motion of
Breathing, concentration, grace
Slowly I roll to rise
Ouch! Ow! Holy Mother!
Fierce ache along the left ileac crest
Deep pain in the groin
Spasm between the sit bones
Knees crack when I stand
For relief I bend over
Just enough to bear my weight
After a few deep breaths
Now fully awake and aware
I pat my fat little apple-shaped belly
And laugh like the Buddha
As I limp down the stairs
-- Madalon Amenta, Pittsburgh, Pa.
If ever I joined the World Poker Tour,
A turtleneck would have to be my uniform.
For if not, then all would read
My each and every thought, The gamut of my emotions displayed --
For all the world to see --
Proud and defiant upon my skin,
A puzzle of red blotches.
The doctor calls it "stress-induced urticaria",
But I've termed it "blotchlism" (easier to say and much more witty)
The cure? "learn to relax" she says.
But there it is, spread over my skin,
Whether relaxed or nervous,
humored or angry, upset or aroused.
(men think it signals my excitement for them - haha, wrong!)
I'm told this is common among those
Of Scandinavian ancestry,
And I wonder, did Vikings ever raid Puglia?
Perhaps, some 1,000 year-old, recessive gene
That avoided generations of beautifully
Only to find a home in me, The only blonde, pale, blue-eyed one in the family.
But that opens up a whole other bag of questions ...
-- Andrea Catalano, Denver, Colo.
Fairest of Them All
Once I was
six foot four
with long blond hair
I woke up.
Now in the mirror
middle aged man
only to return
to the me
of my dreams.
-- Louis S. Faber
I wonder where the body went
I had at 24.
I have to say with much remorse
I've an hourglass no more.
Cellulite has settled in
And creeps south toward my knees.
My thighs create a friction burn
And my butt is cottage cheese.
I fear that saggy boobs are next
And wrinkles will set in.
It's unfair I still have daily war
With pimples on my skin.
But I don't hate the skinny girls
I tell them to enjoy themselves
For it's not going to last.
-- Anonymous from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
My thick locks of hair
Used to fly like an eagle
I had big moussable bangs
Like that guy in Flock of Seagulls
Then one day at the strip-mall salon
Via chair-turn and hand mirror was I shown
A small thin spot atop my noggin
Like a hole in the ozone
My then-girlfriend bought me chemicals
To spray onto the spot
But "may decrease sex drive"
Didn't sound so hot
So I've watched the pattern grow
Like a yarmulke of air
While my ears, back and nostrils
Gained surpluses of hair
On first dates I strafe side to side
To hide the rear half of my noodle
I've considered letting tattoo artists
Use the space to doodle
Now, I could shave myself bald or grow a distracting goattee
But this just isn't my style
Instead I joke, "I'm having a bad-hair life"
And avoid three-way mirrors by a mile
I can fit into my 501s again!
And even my vinyl micro-mini!
I have lost over 10 pounds of late
although I'm still not skinny.
I can thank exercise and diet
for making me relatively lean
but it's not just the low cholesterol, low fat, low sodium and no sugar-
it's also Triamterene.*
here comes a time in everyone's life
when heredity catches up with health
and medications become necessities
threatening what's left of one's dubious wealth.
I still look young and feel even younger
and hope I get positive attention
but the healthier ways my life has changed
are due to hypertension!
-- Lynne Bronstein, Santa Monica, Calif.
My thighs rub together
I am a yoga expert from contorting my body to pull on my pants
When I walk, the friction creates heat
And wears out the inside seams of my jeans
Which I have to buy in a bigger size, causing them to gape at the waist
In the summer, the heat causes sweat to run down my legs
And I get razor bumps from the contact
No curves at my hips or butt to balance them
They cause me to stand with my legs slightly apart
My legs look like the food pyramid
Wide at the top and skinny at the bottom
-- Kristina Lynch, Chicago, Ill.
Who is that man staring at me from the other side of the mirror?
He looks familiar
Could that be the young, bearded pot-smoking anti-war protester
With hair to his shoulders
Waiting for the Dead
I seem to remember a man in a tuxedo on his wedding day
I seem to remember a man in a suit and tie on his way to the office
I seem to remember a man with smooth skin, good haircut, bright eyes
Where is that man?
All I see is an old geezer, wrinkled, near-sighted
He needs a shave
I look closer and find character in those laugh lines
Wisdom in the crow's feet
Joy in the smile
I see that his teeth are real
I see that his hair is gray
Who is he?
He looks familiar
Was that him at yet another anti-war protest
Was that him smoking pot in the park
I'm sure I've seen him somewhere recently
Waiting for the living
I look closer and notice those bright eyes and it dawns on me
If the eyes are the window to the soul
The mirror is the window to the eyes
Dude! Put on your glasses!
-- Robin O'Donnell, Berkeley, Calif.
Song of Belief
i'm no supermodel
or anorexic tween dream -
my thighs jiggle
my butt cheeks wiggle
and my metabolism
seems to have stalled
at the tender age
my mom thinks i'm fat
like that's all there is
but i look in the mirror
and see a woman with
a sweet little asian face
and normal-to-oily skin
(wish i didn't have that).
i may not fit
into size 2 juicy couture
but i'm happy to be alive
happy to be loved
happy to be me.
now pass the hot wings.
-- Ria del Rosario
Ankle ink, indelible.
Ankle ink, unintelligible.
Not with my body born, folly of 18, you are but one of many "flaws."
But not like those that unfold over time - not ice-creamed thighs, not keloided chest;
But not like those of unmitigated genes - not baby-thin hair, not waistlessness.
I made you, My dear mistake, My immediate regret, My tear-choked "yes," when asked by the needleman, "Is this how you wanted it to look?"
My specific intention. My sweet sentiment. My diminutive voice.
My malformed result.
Twelve years we've spent together. Together, we enact a lifetime of lessons:
...assert myself in pleasure AND displeasure
...laugh, and appreciate that it could have been worse (gasp, sorority letters; gasp, trend devoid of meaning, gasp; a cheating lover's name!)
No, my flaw is unique in a world of sameness.
Laser surgery, I won't do it.
-- Sarah Raskin, Atlanta, Ga.
She was wrong.
Short hair does not
my balding head.
I am right.
Only more hair will
my balding head.
-- Jason Kren
A lifetime of "Just Do It"--
Done -- just lipo it
-- FD Rattray
Oh me oh my
no matter how hard I try
the pounds increase each year
the body I held so dear, disappears.
No babies for a reason
No unhealthy diet for a why.
as the passing of each season
I begin to wonder and cry.
What more can I do?
What less can I eat?
How many more crunches and lunges do I dare,
before I eventually quit in despair.
Enough I say, enough of this.
I'm happy with myself, I'm happy with my tits,
and my belly, thighs and butt.
Just do it! I agree.
-- Lisa V., Vienna, Austria
I am wasp-waisted but do not sting.
I am an hourglass but time confounds me.
Size ten, fourteen, forty-two, all and none:
I am the length of my shadow,
the width of my footsteps.
I have no map or manual.
I am a floating world of my own make,
a collection of parts like a machine:
cog, wheel, eye, ear.
What am I?
Who am I?
Jessica Langer, London, U.K.
My breasts are frickin'
huge. The rest of me? Just the
right amount of curves.
But those horrific,
mammoth double-D's! Spilling
from my shirts, it seems;
No matter what I
wear. I hate my boobs, but here's
Some women pay big
money to look like this, and
I got mine for free.
-- M.D. Long, Cambridge, Mass.
As a girl,
I believed my butt 2 b
My most gi-nor-mous detriment.
Although males, young and old,
Complimented me with their eyes,
Or pursed their lips and whistled
I looked to magazines, billboards, movies, t.v.
Butt my West African heritage
Couldn't get no satisfaction.
Nike runs up behind
Yelling for me to
Take them booty-licious jeans
From their back-of-the-closet gulag
Then whispers, "So what if you gotta shimmy into 'em?
Just do it"
I love my body, but I hate my clothes.
The waistbands are too tight, the collars pinch;
And I can't stand these awful pantyhose.
My body is just fine - it grows and grows,
My waist increases inch by glorious inch;
I love my body, but I hate my clothes.
I wish I did not have to think of clothes --
No zippers, buttons, and no belts to cinch -
And most of all, no more damn pantyhose;
I'd walk around all nude from head to toes
And revel in my fat while others flinch --
But no, I have to wear these horrid clothes.
Why cover up what's pretty as a rose
With itchy fabrics that compress and pinch?
I love my body, but I hate my clothes -- Especially these stupid pantyhose.
-- Larisa Migachyov
I miss my chin.
I used to have one but now a wattle has swallowed it.
If I scrunch my head back into it a bit,
I can do a pretty fair imitation of Henry the Eighth.
"Off with her head!"
Just do it!
-- Donna Lively