Today, writers are able use the advancements of technology to publish their work; social media is a wonderful platform to bring attention to your creativity. If you have even one form of social media, I am certain that you will have already read some of r.i.d’s work as it is widely shared. A week or so ago I came across a poem by the poet which struck me in a way that stayed with me long after I’d finished it.
The idea of women has always been associated with beauty. However, the form of beauty that they are associated with is something that is unnaturally perfect; remember all the scenes in films in which a female character wakes up looking prettier than when she went to bed, with no lines of exhaustion on her face? The poem that I came across addresses this idea of women being perfectly beautiful throughout all stages of life; in most portrayals, from becoming a woman to motherhood, women are sensual and stunning in a way that pleases the male gaze. The poem looks the concept of age being a woman’s enemy in the eye; after all, why should we – so as to prioritise being “beautiful” – fear the signs that will unfold on our bodies in order to prove that we’ve grown through life? Someone’s beauty is defined by what they do, and if the laughter lines on an individual’s face stands true to the fact that they can find joy in little things, why is that considered the opposite of beauty?
What particularly drew me to this poem is the way in which it addresses motherhood. Our mothers sacrifice more than we can name for us – the second we were born, it brought joy to them – and yet we seem to look at the evidence of their sacrifices as the opposite of beauty; stretch marks aren’t recognised as a symbol of the time our mothers spent carrying us and untidy hair isn’t acknowledged as a sign that they care more about our dinner than themselves.
The poem ends with a stunning harshness with which I stand: if you only find a woman beautiful in her moments of staged perfection and not in the moments when she is truly in the middle of life, you do not deserve her or her infinite love and care.
I hate “still beautiful.”
I hate the faux-accepting mother’s day cards that spoke about seeing stretch marks, wild hair, baby vomit. how these people are “still beautiful” even though now they’re flawed.
a mother stretches her body to make room for miracles. on what level do the scars that gives her make her hard to love. these aren’t just lines, they’re the pattern of a quilt that gets close to godliness: the touch of life. her hair is wild because she is in command of eighty different objectives, and her hair is last on them. the first is loving you. her priorities make sense. and that baby vomit? that’s from your child, or from you, from the mark the work leaves on mothers. that they suffer, and suffer – and yet are not just “beautiful,” they are “flawed, but still beautiful.” men don’t worry their wives will find them “still beautiful” after being a good father. but a good mother has to have “pretty” on her to-do list.
i hate “she’s still beautiful at 45”. Of course she is. Those wrinkles are places she laughed. those tan lines are days she spent at the beach. those chipped fingernails are from clawing her way through the dirt everyone else threw at her.
i hate “she lost weight, she proves she’s still beautiful.” she was beautiful beforehand; her bones aren’t the source of glowing, you don’t need to see them to be sure she’s a lighthouse.
i hate, “still beautiful,” i hate being 22 and wondering if i’m getting old because a woman’s wealth is said to come at 18, a bare cusp of a girl, a snicker in the mouth of old men – i will never be that “perfect age” again, and yet, the further i get away from it, the sicker that idea makes me – how many times was i lied to that it was the summit of beauty when it was really that old men prize me because i was naive, how many men conspired to make use of me because they knew that at 18 they could still manipulate me?
a woman’s beauty does not diminish. it is not a miracle that she is “still beautiful” after crying, after throwing the dishes, after being at her worst. she is the calm after the storm, the lilac of a sunday morning, the bending of the grass.
if you are not ready for the reality of a woman, for the fact that, although goddess-like, she is still human, that she is allowed to be flawed, that her hair will go (just like you will bald) – if you are not ready to find every stage of her life beautiful, not just the ripe pinkness of a new life, not just when the innocence of youth lets you lead them to strife –
you don’t deserve a wife.