The Shapes We Mae

Three Poems by Blythe Baird

PoetryLily MyersComment

THE YEAR OF SKINNY POP AND SUGAR-FREE JELLO CUPS,

we guzzled vitamin water and vodka

 

toasting to high school and survival

complimenting each other’s thigh gaps

 

trying diets we found on the internet:

menthol cigarettes, eating in front of a mirror,

donating blood

 

replacing meals with other practical hobbies

like making flower crowns

 

or fainting

 

wondering why I haven't had my period in months

why breakfast tastes like giving up

 

or how many more productive ways I could have spent my time today

besides googling the calories in the glue of a US envelope

 

watching America's Next Top Model

like the gospel

 

hunching naked over a bathroom scale shrine

crying into an empty bowl of cocoa puffs

 

because I only feel pretty

when I'm hungry


IF YOU ARE NOT RECOVERING,

 you are dying.

 

By the time I was sixteen, I had already experienced

being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese.

 

As a child, Fat was the first word people used to describe me,

which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to.

 

When I lost weight, my dad was so proud,

he started carrying my before-and-after photo in his wallet.

 

So relieved he could stop worrying

about me getting diabetes

 

He saw a program on the news

about the epidemic with obesity

 

Says he is just so glad

to finally see me taking care of myself.

 

If you develop an eating disorder

when you are already thin to begin with,

 

you go to the hospital.

 

If you develop an eating disorder

when you are not thin to begin with,

 

you are a success story.

 

So when I evaporated,

of course everyone congratulated me

on getting healthy.

 

Girls at school who never spoke to me before

stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it.

 

I say, I am sick. They say

No, you’re an inspiration.

 

How could I not fall in love with my illness?

 

With becoming the kind of silhouette

people are supposed to fall in love with?

 

Why would I ever want to stop being hungry

when anorexia was the most interesting thing about me?


SO HOW LUCKY IT IS, NOW,

 to be boring.

 

The way not going to the hospital is boring.

The way looking at an apple and seeing only

an apple, not sixty or half an hour of sit-ups

 

is boring.

 

My story may not be as exciting as it used to,

but at least there is nothing left to count.

 

The calculator in my head finally stopped.

 

I used to love the feeling of drinking

water on an empty stomach

 

waiting for the coolness to slip

all the way down and land in the well,

 

not obsessed with being empty

but afraid of being full.

 

I used to take pride in being able to feel cold in a warm room.

Now, I am proud I have stopped seeking revenge on this body.

 

This was the year of eating when I was hungry

without punishing myself and I know it sounds ridiculous,

 

but that shit is hard.

When I was little, someone asked me

what I wanted to be when I grew up

 

and I said small.

Blythe Baird is a 19-year-old actress, writer, and feminist. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Write Bloody, EverydayFeminism, Button Poetry, and more. She represented Chicago as the youngest competitor at the National Poetry Slam in 2014 as well as the Twin Cities Unified Team in 2015. The past year, her work has gone viral. Her poem Girl Code 101 has been featured in Occidental College’s updated The Vagina Monologues and utilized in academic lesson plans across the globe. She currently lives in St. Paul, MN, where she is a full-time student at Hamline University. Her first book, Give Me A God I Can Relate To, comes out August 31st via Where Are You Press.