I was introduced to this writer by a passerby in my life; perhaps he came into my life just to introduce me to this poem, because it surely became a pivotal piece in my life. I first read this piece of poetry by Asha Bandele a few years ago, in 2009. It hit me from the first stanza, smack dab on the face. Smack dab on my body.
You see, I used to struggle, deeply, with eating disorders and all the self-hate (mind and body) that came along with it.
Within the first stanza, I was trapped… have you ever felt this way?
If so, I’d love to hear from you and try to help you find peace with your mind and body*
This is taken from
Absence in the palms of my hands
by: Asha Bandele
i didn’t mean for my towel to drop or to be standing nude in front of the
full length mirror the other morning…but there we were, trapped,
the three of us: me, the mirror and my naked body.
i’ve avoided being nude in front of myself for years…i have hated my
body for nearly as long as i’ve had one
i’ve been a million different sizes in my life, but never quite the right size…
my skin was never quite the right shade…
always too light or too dark depending upon
who i was with.
it’s not as though i don’t know better…
i’m embarrassed to know as many theories as i do
and still be in struggle.
i know that the american aesthetic is perverse, anti-woman
and bounded by a solely western sense of beauty…i know
that even americans did not demand this image of prepubescent fragility
in women until well into this century… i know the
wideness of my hips makes biological sense…
and i know a million other feminist theories and truths…
i have books filled with highlighted paragraphs to prove that i have studied
understand these self-affirming things…but that knowing doesn’t change
the way i’ve felt for at least the last 15 years.
i am ashamed to say that i hate my body
but it has been my enemy for so long now
& i know somewhere that the real enemy has been the various reactions
that my body has created in other people who have their own
issues biases agendas & afflictions
but it’s easier to attack my 5’6″, lightskinned, 142 pound frame…
i have no power over the men who pay me/my body attention
i never wanted
or dispelled affections i desperately needed…
depending upon my state of fatness or thinness…
but this body which is mine, i can
diet, jog, powerwalk and starve into submission.
i don’t want to live this way.
i want to see the value of my body in the creative framework of what it
does despite its conformity or non-conformity to the western tradition
i want to value the body i have which has always been able to hold and
to dance, walk, write poems, clean houses, massage my sister, rise every
try try try
to contribute to another life,
which like mine,
is struggling for something we hesitantly call
*anyone active in an eating disorder will be referred to therapy. If you are in recovery, and want to work to stay there and continue to move on from ED, please reach out.
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