Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-dysmorphia May 19, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:43 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the mirror

the girl is slender,

waist defined

perfect proportions.

In the photograph

the girl is round,

an hour glass balloon

widely distorted.


In the mirror

the girl is round

an hour glass balloon,

widely distorted.

In the photograph

the girl is wraith-like

ribs defined.

Such visual contortions!



30 Responses to “poem-dysmorphia”

  1. Truth yet so sad. So much is expected of girls and women. We’re too skinny, too big, too small, too tall, too dark, too light. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Women are always judged by their looks. We are expected to be either Model thin or curvaceous voluptuous like Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce or J-Lo. Instead of being encouraged to be the best we can be as individuals society holds up a mirror of expectations and should bes casting aside those who want to be authentic and not follow loc-step and buy into the beauty status quo. No wonder so many young girls and women of all ages have identity problems. I wish Beauty in all its various forms was valued but alas who knows when that will happen.

    • I don’t think men are at all missed out in the dysmorphia thing. The cartoon belly suck up into manly chest thing attests to that. I don’t consider this a gender issue at all.

      • There is not as much pressure on men to look at certain way. Look at the words used to describe women, crone, old bat, past her prime, etc… Whereas men especially those over 50 are considered distinguished. Nearly every Women’s magazine has articles on body fat, weight loss and make-up. Men’s magazines don’t focus on looks. So women are behind the 8 ball.

      • GQ? Body building mags? Fitness mags?

      • I still don’t think men are quite as obsessed with looks as women. Given GQ and other Fitness magazines society itself still has a double standard concerning what is acceptable for men as opposed to women. Very few men are stressing about their looks, their place in society or their ability to attract women. The pressure is on the female gender. Also men have financial and other type magazines the balance things out. Women not so much. We are judged solely on how we look.

      • The boys feel it too, Deb, I promise. Nerdy scrawny boys feel it in locker rooms. Pudgey gamer boys feel it in the halls. Hockey boys saunter with the power of physical power and belonging to a team that amplifies a sense of inadequacy in the rest of the school. It may be more obvious for women and girls, but it definitely exists for boys. I know males with bulemia, boys who force themselves to exercise because they are repelled by fat, and curse every ounce on their frame. I know more large women with accepting spouses than I know large men with accepting spouses! Women have craft magazines, house magazines, they share news magazines and literary magazines… (Perhaps you have more of that sort of thing in the US than we do in Canada? I don’t know).

      • Yes Women in the United States do have craft, Gardening, sewing, photography, House Beautiful, Home & Gardens and other non-Beauty magazines. Remembering that you’re a teacher you see the angst in young men. Most of my male friends are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s so the angst phase is long over. You’re correct young people male and female do have a difficult time finding their place in the world. Just curious but I wonder what the percentage is of women who get plastic surgery as opposed to men. Every day when I ride the subway I’m assaulted with a plastic surgery adv. of a Women with enhanced Double DDs. On my job somebody, probably a guy pinned an ad for various types of plastic surgery for women, (boob jobs and butt enhancements, etc…) on the Ladies Locker room Bulletin Board which is just outside the locker room. Apparently some of my male co-workers think the Women need body work but the guys need both body and brain work!! Ugh!!

      • Plainly you work with cave men.
        However, demands for perfection in others can reflect a sense of inadequacy in oneself. Talk around the staff room table suggests to me that angst is never over! lol

        Perhaps you need to pin up some articles on intelligence being sexy, along with some shots of some Olympic athletes.

      • Yes some are Neanderthals but most of the guys are quite nice. Several admire Venus and Serena Williams, the tennis pros. And of course everyone was excited about Gabby Douglas who won the Gold in Gymnastics at the Olympics for the U.S. I try to keep in mind that some of my male co-workers are married and some have daughters. By the way the Ladies ripped down the insulting boobie ad. I’m not sure if the guys have a Bulletin Board near their Locker room as I try to stay clear of that area unless I have to go to Uniforms dept. or the shirt laundry room which is on the same level. No need to be grossed out!! LOL!!

      • I was suggesting photos of MALE Olympic athletes. 😉

      • Oh!! However if I did that that middle-age angst would eat them alive since very few of the guys are in that good condition!! LOL!! Ha!! Ha!! Comeuppance!! Dang they’d be traumatized!!

      • Exactly the point. “Good for the goose being good for the gander” and all that. Reminds me of when I was in Finland and someone would say “You’re American.” I’d correct them and explain I was Canadian. They’d say “Same thing.” So I would reply absolutely deadpan, “I suppose, and I am so enjoying my exchange here in the Soviet Union.” (or Sweden, both worked equally well). They always shut up, and frequently laughed at the clarity of the metaphor. So, if your men require a similar tactic, give it to them to make the point, and then hopefully everyone will respectfully back into civility. 😉

  2. mihrank Says:

    It is because the body is a machine that education is possible. Education is the formation of habits, a super inducing of an artificial organization upon the natural organization of the body.

  3. rolltidejen Says:

    I used to think I was fat when I was younger. My father always told me I was, but looking back now, I was not. It’s funny, the distorted views we can have of ourselves. This is a very thought-provoking, well-written piece. I get it.

  4. billiesimone Says:

    I hate looking in the mirror… Because I’m forced to see my flaws, and then I have to search for my confidence to remove my deflated ego. Mind you I am maybe 120lbs at the most. I have a fear of being overweight. I was a 8/10 at my heaviest. I was so sad… Today I am happy…yet the fear that I may be eating “too” much, lurks around every corner…Thank you for sharing…

    • Funny isn’t it? In the mirror, I don’t see any flaws. Photos show flaws after the fact. Body image is a fascinating thing! To be honest, there are many worse things than being overweight, but the way menopause messes with body chemistry is so frustrating! It

  5. colonialist Says:

    Quite some topic this poem introduces. Society’s expectations contribute towards the commonest forms – obesity in women and muscular in men. Then it becomes a question of balance. Reasonable effort towards a body and appearance to be satisfied with, with what attributes one has been given, is a good thing. Obsession is not.

  6. Srishti Says:

    When I look in the mirror, I see me.
    Happy, smiling, loving.
    When I see a photograph,
    I see memories.
    Cherished, remembered, yet sometimes forgotten.
    I learn now that a mirror is to contemplate and look at yourself. To not look at flaws, but at the person you are. And a photo to remember something that has passed by. They are memories. I guess, I don’t want to look at me in everything anymore 🙂
    (also, dysmorphia. This happens a lot with me 😛 )
    Srish. Xx

  7. the themes in poetry remind me of a podcast i think you would enjoy a out chirality:, season 9, episode 5. ~~~^^*^^~~~

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