I was pleasantly surprised by today’s poetry picture book collection.
Before I begin this entry, I must forewarn some readers that I’m going to talk about body image. It’s something I’ve struggled with and I’m going to make myself vulnerable here as I talk about it. I don’t want to trigger anyone, nor am I promoting body shaming in any way.
WOKE: A YOUNG POET’S CALL TO JUSTICE is a poetry picture book collection written by women (Mahogany L. Brown, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood) on a variety of topics relating to social justice, activism, discrimination, and empathy. While this is a picture book (and sold with other picture books at the book store), it’s marketed at middle grade, which is actually quite perfect for the topic.
There were many poems that impressed me, but the poem I’m going to share today struck a personal note with me. I have always struggled with my weight. I learned to eat my emotions at a very early age and became chubby. And it was never the cute kind of chubby. I was bullied, withdrew into myself and books, and hated what I saw in the mirror. I had a very skewed perspective because of my experiences and what I internalized. It impacted my relationships and some of my life choices that I wish I could take back. I look back at “fat” high school pictures and I’m amazed at how thin I actually was. I wasn’t anorexic or bulemic, just self-hating and convinced by others that I was “less than” when I was far too young.
It’s taken me MANY years to get out of that poisonous self-hatred. I no longer talk down to myself, but I still struggle with my weight. I find it so easy to slip into bashing myself, it’s ridiculous. But then I see poems like this one and I’m reminded that those thoughts are NOT true. I love others just the way they are, so why couldn’t they love me? I now know that I am loved for WHO I am, not what I am. And sometimes, those flaws we see? We are the only ones that see them. Body dismorphia is incredibly difficult to overcome, but it can be done.
Here is the poem that hit home for me:
And if you’re looking for more poetry fun this month, be sure to check out the Kidlitosphere Event Roundup!