Mirror

Michaela Mayer

**content warning: eating disorder, fatphobia**


Fattened on pills, I examine my flab:

this cruel ritual women of my country

submit themselves to, the pinch & roll,


the slow swing from side to side

to catch every unflattering angle—

the promises to run more, eat less,


to reduce, reduce, reduce, until

the features of my mother’s youth overlay

mine. Her anorexic days, shame rising


from the decades when heroin chic

mandated self-hatred; from before,

even, her own parents dieting


on-and-off her whole childhood. I look

away, regret engraved

on my face. It pained her enough to whisper


to her daughter, years later,

I’m grateful you take after him,

tall & thin, though I have grown only


to average height—the weight

of expectation greater than my body’s

upward momentum. & now I have


grown out, far too large

for the crisp-pleated taffeta skirt

she sewed herself for prom, too far gone


for the pinch-waist white dress she saved

in case her daughter retained a body

starved into shape.


But my mother’s beautiful, so I

must be, even if I cannot

see it: I have her hazel eyes, wider,


but the selfsame color. Her hair,

brown & waved. Her round face,

her sloping cupid’s bow. Here


I am, standing before the mirror still,

pleading with my reflection that someday

I not make the mistake of praising


my child for being smaller, for not

being me, teaching them to hate

what is rightfully theirs—


I must learn to love this body, this fat,

this abundance unfolding within me.

How sad, any other path. How small


& meager, hemmed in by systems

of fear & shame, weak & wan.

I must end it here, step into the sun.

About the Author

Michaela Mayer is a 26-year-old poet and educator from Virginia. Her works have previously appeared in Claw & Blossom, Perhappened, Q/A Poetry, Barren Magazine, Feral Poetry, Olit, Monstering Mag, The Lumiere Review, and others. She has a gorgeous cat named Sappho and can be found on Twitter @mswannmayer5.