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Wellness

Introduction to Diet Culture

Middle school me spots magazines in the grocery store
checkout line. My mother’s basket bursting
with the cheap carbs that dieting lore claimed
packed on the pounds.
She makes me a mirror of her,
a pillowy stomach pouting from pasta.
Balanced brunches are a lot easier
for those who haven’t spent their entire lives
looking up from the poverty line.
GET SKINNY NOW
in big bold block print
with a smiling southern sweetheart showing how
her pants are six sizes too big for her small hips.
Pants that would have fit snugly over my mother’s
overflowing waist. It was no wonder she bought
clothes for me three sizes too big, whispering
about allowing for room to grow.
ARE YOU SWIMSUIT READY?
Asks the toned and tanned woman
smiling with her impossibly impeccably white teeth.
As if she had never known the gross greasy
school cafeteria pizza they served us.
No matter how fast I ran I could not escape
the fact I was growing out instead of up.
YOU DON’T WANT TO GET FAT DO YOU?
The days when food was foe
when I was happier to go hungry than ask for seconds.
Late-night advertisements for diet pills
some side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, drug dependence, and in rare cases death.
blares before switching over to cartoons where a cat chases a mouse.
I wish there’d been caution tape on my childhood
a whisper of a word that would have told me
how the world gives girls grievances regarding our bodies.

An author’s note on Introduction to Diet Culture: This poem was written with strong intentions. As a child, I felt as though the media was flooded with images of what I was supposed to look like skinny, pretty, happy. Every magazine in the grocery store screamed in neon letters of a quick fix to help women drop that stubborn fifteen pounds that seemed impossible to shake. Marketed towards the adult women waiting in line as if the young girls standing beside their mothers were not drawing comparisons between the beauties on the covers and the girl in the mirror who was still within the throes of puberty. I wrote this poem for every girl who learned to hate herself in the checkout line.

Arianna is Texas raised. A junior at Stephen F. Austin in the creative writing department. Having had publications in the charity chapbook Remedy of Water, the proceeds donated to the California wildfires.
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