by Katherine N., Age 14 , Grade 8, Trinity Christian Academy, Addison, TX USA
Teacher: Sarah-Graham Turtletaub
Pretty Little Things
Small, petite, thin.
The standard of beauty.
The bodies which are deemed a sufficient vehicle for style.
The ones residing on pedestals, parading around in teetering heels on crimson carpets.
When I was eight, the girl next to me tallied her calories.
At the age of ten, another pushed away her lunch of crackers and fruit.
That same year, a friend threw up her dinner and wore it like a badge of honor.
I turned eleven and blew on nearly a dozen candles for a solitary wish:
Let me be small, petite, thin.
I cried a lot that year.
Droplets of water blurring blue pen marks in diary entries.
Tears obscuring my vision from reflections in dressing rooms.
I remember each and every time a friend pushed away dessert,
A deprecating comment with a comical twist to deter any suspicion regarding the reason.
I could write down my friends’ parents by name,
The ones who suggested “How about a salad instead…”
When their daughter ordered a slice of cheese pizza.
To pinpoint a single time I felt sad would be a feat much too large for me,
Because I felt sad for the child next to me in second grade, calculating the grams of sugar in an Oreo.
I feel sad for a girl I haven’t seen in three years, and wonder if she still purges herself every night.
I felt sad for every chipped porcelain friend who sat on my bedroom floor in tears because of something her mother said to her at a restaurant.
I feel sad for my barely double-digits self, for thinking that people would only like me for my appearance.
I wish I could tell her how stupid she is.
That a piece of cake on her birthday will not kill her.
That her value has absolutely nothing to do with how strongly gravity clings to her.
That a brownie is not a forbidden fruit.
That she’d be exponentially happier at parties if she would just eat like everyone else.
That it is okay to feel full.
But most of all,
I feel sad for the younger generation of children, both boys and girls,
Who will grow up believing that their worth is tied up in numbers.
Ones on scales,
Yes, I feel the worst of all for those wishing on candles to be
Small, petite, thin.