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Summer heat is going to go into full swing soon. In some places the heat has already kicked in, which means it’s time to bring out the shorts and tank tops. For some folk, there is hesitation to wear certain items of clothing because they’ve been told they’re “too big,” or that “it won’t look right,” or that they’re “asking for attention,” etc. Some of these comments might come from strangers, but many times they come from our own friends and family who think they’re doing us a favor by giving advice. Comments and phrases like this can be harmful and contribute to body shaming and rape culture. So as things continue to heat up, remember the amount of clothing someone is wearing does not dictate the amount of respect that one should be given. Allow people to embrace the skin they’re in—their stretchmarks, scars, body rolls, and all—not just the parts we deem acceptable.
I’d like to leave you with a poem that served as a reminder to myself that I didn’t have to fit into European beauty standards that society has created. Let’s continue to empower and support one another and keep opinions to ourselves if they’ll harm someone else.
10 million women in the U.S
are dissatisfied in their own skin.
48% of those are indigenous women who are suffering from eating disorders.
Pale Photoshop models
cut and lean like pieces of meat using makeup to mark over
beautiful bodies to make a
I remember I stopped loving myself the day the blue eyed girl in my English class
said my brown eyes looked like crap, said if I covered them
with enough makeup they would look better.
into laughter when I told her I didn’t need makeup to feel pretty.
I bought eyeliner and green contacts that day.
I stopped loving my body the day
I started slipping
into my drink
So I could look like the the girls on tv.
So I wore a measuring tape like a belt
only instead of holding me up
it tore me down
I put my body
through a hunger strike
and my skin
through a hurricane of wounds.
I hope one day
match at least half
of my dissatisfaction,
that the media’s perception of beauty
because they have an abundance of ways to lose weight,
but they never tell you how to gain confidence.
Never tell you that beauty comes
in all different shades and colors.
A spectrum of amazing.
She sees a giant,
I see a twig.
What’s the difference when
we all have the same heavy heart
too big for our skin to withhold.
Don’t tell me it’s better to be skinny
or that real women have curves.
How many girls have to drop dead
for us to realize
we are all gorgeous.
You are not too brown for beautiful,
Don’t let them silence the skin your ancestors gave you.
Stop fighting against
your own beauty because beauty is in the eye
of the beholder
so hold me.
Hold me until my scars
stop screaming ugly
and my skin whispers love me.
My scars might be a galaxy
of scattered stories
or a junkyard of broken constellations
but I don’t regret them.
I refuse to regret my own skin
so don’t regret yours either.
Scarlett Cortez is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.