Upworthy, the BuzzFeed of socially conscious video shares, has nailed it yet again with this video, below, of a college student named Lily Myers performing a slam poem about what girls learn from watching their mothers relate to men and food. The poem is an incisive commentary on accommodation, silence and generational behavior patterns. Enjoy this young woman expounding on the way men are taught to expand in a world that tells women to be small:
This poem resonates with me, even though my mother has never been physically slight. As so many fat people can tell you, a large body can belie a fragile core, and my mother certainly taught me how to shrink and accommodate, regardless of size. Women don’t need to be small to feel small, to feel they have no agency, to feel they’re the ones who have to make life work in such a way that will please the men around them. A friend was talking to me today about the way women learn to take the world in and let it form them, and she said, “Women are taught to feel about ourselves how others feel about us. Men are taught not to care what other people think of them from the time they’re boys. They’re encouraged from early on to be self-confident.” This poem echoes that in such a personal way, particularly when Myers acts out her brother thinking it’s idiotic that anyone could be filled with so much self-doubt that they would worry about how much food they’re eating. Not only do most men not worry about something trivial like how much food they should have, they don’t understand why women do, because they generally aren’t taught – the way women are – to see beyond themselves. To make sure everything works for everyone else, even if it’s at a deficit to themselves.
When my 8-year-old daughter comes to me with a problem and she feels small or helpless, I always tell her, “You have the power of the whole Universe inside you.” When I first started telling her that, she’d say, “No, I don’t.” But eventually I convinced her, and over time she felt more confident. I can see how she’s grown as a result, how she’s so much freer and more willing to take risks and take up space. If you weren’t taught confidence as a child, whether you’re male or female, it’s okay. It’s never too late to lay claim to the Universal power within you. Just remember that the Universe is constantly expanding, so it goes against your nature to shrink.