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Poetry of Teenage Girls: Uncovering the Superficial Image of the Ideal Woman

Updated on November 28, 2016

In this day and age image is everything and to teenage girls body image consumes them. Our society continues to print false images of women in magazines, creating this idealistic view of how women should look. Many times these superficial images cause young women to doubt their own beauty simply because they don't reflect the same images as various actresses or models. Our society is creating a disease that is infecting these girls with eating disorders and self-hate. Young girls should be basking in their youth and celebrating the magnificent changes their bodies undergo, instead of comparing themselves to the next hottest face on the cover of various popular magazines.

Many women are out there trying to help these young women recognize their beauty and their potential. They are trying to unmask this false beauty and replace it with real and raw images of women, true beauty. The most recent of these women is Alexis Jones, the author of I Am That Girl, but back in 2001 another woman Betsy Franco published a book of poems and writings all written by teenage girls. Titled Things I have to tell you, was started as a project and became a place for young girls age 12-18 to tell their story, their struggle. Many of the poems in this book are inspiring and heartbreaking. While reading this book I often found myself wanting to reach out and save girls like this, because I saw my younger self within their lines. The broken, the damaged, the silenced I too felt angry and confused during my adolescent times; hating myself for what I couldn't change and for not being stronger than ridiculing words.

The poems in this book that inspired this hub are about body image and self-hate and how our society continues to promote this kind of backward thinking, but it also celebrates young women and their imperfect bodies.


The first poem is entitled "Be Perfect..." by Laura Veuve age 15. What I love about this poem is how at such a young age this girl can unveil these superficial images of perfection and colors it all bullshit. It's a poem about how this superficial BS surrounds these young girls yet when one girl can't live up to perfection and ends up with an eating disorder or slicing up her wrists everyone seems shocked and wonders how this could happen. This poem calls those people out on their "bullshit".

Be Perfect
Perfect brain
Perfect personality
Perfect face
Perfect body
Perfect body
Perfect body
-Shocking studies show eating disorders
on the rise in teenage girls-
Shocking
Bullshit
You should have seen this coming
You raised me
Your society screwed me up
I read your hypocritical magazines
I went to your schools
I dealt with your sons' running commentaries
on
my face
my weight
my breasts
my body
Shocking
Bullshit
My parents can't protect me
My friends can't protect me
My wonderful, loving,
ignorant community can't protect me
So I protect them
I have to cope to survive
Why hurt them too?
What?
Oh, I'm fine, Mom
-smile-
Be Perfect
Bullshit

The next poem "Contemplating fat and thin", by Becky Mann age 17, brings an eating disorder to light. In just a few lines, you get this image of a girl going to her scale day in and day out in hopes of her perfect number, but when a higher number appears she says to herself "No food, you're fat / double the run" (page 21). Then she weighs herself later and gets her weight, but at what cost.

A smile stretches across my face
my heart skips a beat
I open my eyes to see
the scale at just eye level
a bruise from just the night before
and one today to match that one
from tumbling to the floor
Contemplating fat and thin
Never enough
It feels like I will never win


When we focus on numbers on a scale we tend to stray away from healthy habits in order to obtain a worthy number. Becky Mann does an excellent job of illustrating that in her poem.

Another writing that sheds light on these superficial ideals of women is a writing done by Gabrielle Turner age 19, "As Good As She Looks". Here is a writing about how ones culture that once accepted curvacious women as beautiful are now diminishing them to nothing, just "lazy and ignorant" (20). My absolute favorite part of this writing is the powerful sting this young girl leaves you with:

By focusing on how women look instead of how we feel and think, society
silences our voices. By making us objects of beauty, it takes away our spirits and
our souls.

Now while this book has poems and writing on this idea of a superficial beauty, it also has poems that empower young women to believe in their own beauty and love themselves. One of those poems is "Damn, I Look Good" by Miriam Stone age 16. What I love about this poem is how one dress can make a young woman feel like a vixen about to ravish any man she wishes. It empowers these girls with the man-eater complex and I think that can be great for young girls. It builds confidence and helps them to accept their bodies instead of hating their bodies because they don't look like a super model.

Tried on a dress the other day,
Showed off my skin
In just the right way,
Rolled off my hips
Like fingertips,
Legs long,
Heart strong,
Cascading hair falling
Just to where my back
Lies graceful, smooth, bare.
Elegant shoulders,
Slender wrists,
Temptress in a dress
No one can resist.
Supercilious walk,
Suave talk,
This coquette can get
Any man she's set
Eyes upon-
A female Don Juan.
The best, I confess,
Cannot help bu obsess
Over me,
Devil walking
In one hell of a dress.

The other poem that illustrates a young woman celebrating her body is "Apricot Bath" by Lindsay Henry age 17. This poem can inspire young girls to, well not give it up so easily. Make sure that the guy you're with can love everything about you instead of just what he finds attractive. Make sure he loves your mind and the fact that you don't always agree. Make sure that he can focus on your conversation without straying to the curves of your breasts or thighs. This poem takes sex out of the equation while sitting naked with a guy in a bath and only allowing him to kiss you once you both know all there is to know about one another. My favorite lines of the poem are in the middle when she tells him what to love her for.

But if you must love me
Love the little smooth scar on my knee
no my eyes
Love my round belly
not my legs
Love the two freckles on my neck
that look like a vampire's kiss
not my lips
Love my square, pudgy toes
not my smile

Interesting documentary about eating disorders in young people, especially athletes. It's an interesting look at how both young women and men in intense athletic sports suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.

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    • Brittany Kussman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kussman 

      22 months ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you! I really appreciate that and Merry Christmas to you as well.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      22 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Brittany,

      Again, LOVE this hub. Very well-written, researched and presented.

      Sharing it with my followers.

      Merry Christmas to you!

    • Brittany Kussman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kussman 

      22 months ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thanks for the read and I'm glad you enjoyed my Hub! It is a great work of poetry indeed and I think we are making improvements as a people towards not judging women on superficial values, but we have a long way to go still.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Brittany, this is a well written hub on a very important subject. The unrealistic image of perfection that society imposes on young girls and women. The poetry of these teenagers in poignant and eye opening. It would be a wonderful book to read, and I hope somehow one day society changes for the better in how we judge beauty.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Brittany,

      Abstract/Prose is my weakness. I hope that when you are not so busy, you will read . . ."An Old Dreamers Dream," "Farewell Forever Our Midnight," and "Pleading With Raindrops," to fully appreciate my love of this style of poetry.

      I am not promoting myself at all.

      And I do THANK YOU so MUCH for following me. That is a priceless gesture. I will send you a Personalized Thank You email in the days ahead.

      Keep up the great work.

      Your Friend, Kenneth

    • Brittany Kussman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kussman 

      4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thanks I'm glad you enjoyed the hub...I have a love for poetry and did poetry of younger people to be very interesting. It allows others to get a glimpse of how they view their world.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Brittany,

      WOW! Fantastic hub with great poetry, which is my weakness, but just abstract/prose. Voted up and all of the choices. I loved the topic and how well you presented your views and graphics.

      Keep up the great work and always write no matter what.

    • Brittany Kussman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kussman 

      4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you fr the read. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. This topic is something that I am invested in cause there are so many young women who try to kill themselves to be perfect and have the perfect body, that they forget to live and enjoy their lives.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thanks for drawing attention to this collection of writings. This potentially could help a lot of people. As a society we need to be more educated on how our unrealistic and even insensitive expectations of females are having a negative effect on young females. Making judgments on appearances is demeaning and it makes us miss out on the true beauty that people possess.

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