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The Contradictions of Society’s Expectations for Women

3 min read

“Society’s Cruel Expectations” narrates my experience as a brown girl living in Western society, being unable to conform to the Indian or Western beauty ideals. The poem journeys through my thought process as I determine how I should please and conform to either society’s beauty standards. It shows my inner insecurities as I feel rejected by both communities in terms of the way I look and carry myself.

[Read Related: A Deeper Look into India’s Fair Skin Obsessed Beauty Standards]

I want to share this poem because I want other brown girls like me to know they are not alone if they share this sentiment.

Society’s Cruel Expectations

I stand naked in front of the mirror
I stand witness to my flesh, my skin

There are stretch marks on my thighs
There are stretch marks on my butt

There are scars on my legs
There are scars on my hips

There are bruises on my knees
There are bruises on my elbows

There are marks on my face
There are marks on my hands

There is fat on my stomach
There is fat on my love handles

There is hair on my legs
There is hair on my arms

They tell me my skin isn’t dark enough
They tell me my skin isn’t light enough

They tell me my hair isn’t long enough
They tell me my hair isn’t short enough

They tell me I should thread my eyebrows
They tell me I should draw in my eyebrows

They tell me I should eat more
They tell me I should diet more

They tell me to cover up my skin
They tell me to show more of my skin

They tell me I am not enough
They tell me I will never be enough

I tell myself I am not good enough for you
They tell me I am not good enough for you
I want to be worthy of you
They don’t want me to be worthy of you

I wonder how I can be good enough for you
They wonder if I will ever be good enough for you

If I had no stretch marks on my thighs
If I had no stretch marks on my butt
Would I feel enough for you

If I had no scars on my legs
If I had no scars on my hips
Would I feel enough for you

If I had no bruises on my knees
If I had no bruises on my elbows
Would I feel enough for you

If I had no marks on my face
If I had no marks on my hands
Would I feel enough for you

If I had no fat on my stomach
If I had no fat on my love handles
Would I feel enough for you

If I had no hair on my legs
If I had no hair on my arms
Would I feel enough for you

If my skin were dark enough
If my skin were light enough
Would I feel worthy of you

If my hair were long enough
If my hair were short enough
Would I feel worthy of you

If my eyebrows were threaded
If my eyebrows were drawn in
Would I feel worthy of you

If I ate more
If I dieted more
Would I feel worthy of you

If I covered up my skin
If I showed more of my skin
Would I feel worthy of you

Will I ever be enough for you
Will I ever feel worthy of you

[Read Related: I Finally Learned to Love my Curls and I’m Never Going Back]


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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    John
    Hi, Even though, being a white male, I'm not the intended audience for this post. As an immigrant kid, there are ways I relate to this re-post more than you know, which brings me to a piece of unsolicited advice to the author. Every family situation/relationship/career is it's own patch of grass with it's own set of weeds. Many times we long for another family situation/relationship/career because we think the grass is greener in a different situation. However, reality often proves that a new situation is simply another field with it's own flowers and weeds. Your true friends and loving family members should unconditionally accept you for the things you can't change and admire you for your character. If a prospective spouse, family member, or social circle tells you directly or indirectly that you need to be X height, X weight, X skin color, watch/read X things, and make X decisions to be "worthy" of their affections, then those individuals aren't members of your life team and are not working in your best interest. Think of it this way, the people who manipulate you into thinking that you aren't worthy of them, aren't worthy of you, because if given the chance, you'd offer them unconditional love and support, and they aren't offering the latter as a basic expectation.

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