Sarah Denmark

For as long as I can remember,
I’ve been told to cover up my body.
If it outlines my curves, then hide it
If it got too hot, add more layers
If it got too much attention, then change
But if there were no attention, then you’re perfectly beautiful.
“You wouldn’t want to give guys any ideas,” they said,
As if I wouldn’t have the choice to say no when they had ideas
Because as a woman,
The way I dress seems to be enough consent

Rules set by people, a dress code.
We’re expected to feel beautiful by following,
But how is that possible when they tell us how to dress
Tell us what we can and can not wear.
We lose the choice to feel beautiful
When they all stare
It suddenly becomes unsuitable for a woman to feel beautiful
If it means breaking their rules.

I haven’t looked at myself in the mirror for who knows how long.
Because, I’m expected to look a certain way.
A way someone else wants me to—
How is that not wrong?
There’s no point in looking at myself
When it only reminds me
Of how ugly I feel.

Covered in a layer of soaked sweat under all these clothes,
I don’t know what I look like anymore.
What I really look like under all these layers
Having to wear more.

Feeling beautiful and being beautiful isn’t the same.
Giving me compliments and nice names
You say I’m beautiful under all these layers,
These layers of rules they made us follow,
The rules that tell us we’re not beautiful enough to show
Our bodies that we want to feel beautiful in
Because they’re making up thoughts,
That guys think the unthinkable
When what is being shown is our skin,
The skin that we were born with.

So why—
Why should we be considered inappropriate for when it gets too hot
Or when we want to feel confident.
Why is it that they’re so fixated on guys?
Guys said to be the bad ones
Who are said to lay their eyes
On our hidden bodies,
Why are they to blame?

It’s not the guys who get ideas
It was never them,
The ones that tell us how to dress,
They’re the ones obsessed.