Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

Perceptions Skewed

Let’s go back to when you learned how to reduce yourself in the eyes of someone else, just before the time when you stopped being you and tried to be more like the person next to you. Go back to before you learned comparison, before you decided you weren’t good enough or someone else was better. Step back to the time when everything changed, when the world told you who you needed to be, the expectations pointed at you like fingers holding money and ideas of how you should look. The magazine covers, the standards thrown to you to say, this is how you should look… see how happy the model on the cover is? Be that! Be this! Be anything, but not you. It’s unacceptable, not beautiful, try harder, buy the product, do your hair, wear the dress. You didn’t make those rules, but didn’t we all follow them? Well, rules are made to be broken, standards unfollowed, puppet strings cut. Go back to when you were you. When you were happy and good enough without all of that shit. When the only expectations you had were the ones you made for yourself. When you didn’t care what someone else thought, and didn’t know yet about the mold you would be stuffed in… does it fit? How’s it feel? Let’s go back to where we all started, as just a little girl who smiled and meant it. Before you knew that one day it would be a competition, before you knew that kindness would fall beneath beauty, and beauty would take the lead before happiness. When a smile still meant something and real was all we had because fake hadn’t shown up yet. Before standards stole your joy, and judgment ripped into your innocence. Before a double standard was created by people selling products and women who were little girls like you once, but lost the grace to sell their souls to just be pretty. Any surface can be painted pretty, but if you judge someone by their surface alone, you’re superficial with a skewed perception of what beautiful is. Just being pretty is the ugliest thing to be and if that’s all you have, then you have nothing… and nothing can’t compete with a heart that has everything. That kind of everything is the only kind of beautiful capable of setting standards.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


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