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Hard-won Confidence.

Every day I uncurl myself.
I stretch from my fingers to my toes.
I peer into the looking glass, and I
tell myself there is a beautiful girl standing
there looking back at me.

I fight the hate I feel for my own face,
by covering it in compliments.
I start with the parts of me that are easiest to love.
My eyes with their rings of brown, green, and gold.
The freckle that kisses the skin just beyond my lashes.

Then I move to the parts of me that I’ve been taught to hate.
The flesh between my thighs that jiggle when I walk.
I whisper how cute they are, smiling so that I believe it too.

My hips and stomach covered in stretch marks
tracing paths in my skin like rivers.
I tell myself that they are beautiful. Like kintsugi
where the cracks in broken pottery are filled in by gold.
I am a beautiful masterpiece.

I learn to rewrite what I know about myself.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the creation of art. I remember drawing these waif-thin girls in middle school and high school, thinking this was the epitome of beauty. As I grew into my current self, I began to look around me at all the images in the media. None of these girls looked like me. They looked like the girls I used to draw, heroines that looked like they’d skip meals as a pastime.

And it’s not that I had any problems with these girls being shown in the media. They were indeed beautiful, but where were the people who looked like me? The short, chubby girls with round faces and thick thighs. We existed. I could see the proof of that looking at me in the mirror. But we were not the heroines, not the superheroes, not the love interests. If we did get shown in the media, it was as the fat friend that was only there for comedic relief.

I realized that, if I wanted to change what I saw in the world around me, I’d have to start by putting out the exact things that I wanted. I started drawing to fall in love with my own curves. Everything that I hated about myself for so many years I learned to love through the stroke of a paintbrush. It was wonderful. My body was something wonderful. And when I translated it on canvas, even I, my biggest critic, was a fan.

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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