An interconnected family of supernovas burning bright in the night sky: take a moment, reach out—join us.
**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.