by Jennifer Deschner

To the YouTubers who leave anonymous body shaming comments on body positive poetry:

I see you
hiding behind blue screens like little men behind green curtains.
You think you hold all this power.
Try to control the world behind the safety of a keyboard
that will not strike back at you when
your bark and your bite become the same thing.
Would you feel so safe if you had to
spit these words down my throat yourself,
smell your own bitter breath,
feel your teeth gnash against the tongue?
I’ve been biting myself for far too long.
How do these scars taste?

I understand that you do not love this body.
Only appreciate art that has been erased with
no signs of sketch marks or stretch marks.
I understand you believe you are being harmless, helpful even.
I’m assuming
you have never had to skinny yourself into submission,
had to shrink yourself to fit inside of someone else’s comfort zones.
How can you say you know what is best for this body,
know the limits it shouldn’t push,
the space it should not be allowed to take up?
You have never been where it’s been,
have not known the stories this stomach has churned up after
too much indulgence, too much trying to self love.
My body has been a home always under reconstruction,
always reshaping rooms, losing inches.
There is no more room to downsize.
If this outside shrinks,
this inside will burst,
seep through the walls you say are too thick,
too insulated,
too threatening to the space your ego takes up.
If this body is here, where can your cockiness go?

I understand we must be threatening,
we cellulite soldiers,
lightning bolt skin scars scattering
thick thunderous thighs.
We know what it is like to
march over ribcages like the mountains
we have climbed to get here,
get okay,
get to the point where we can love
every hill, every valley this body,
this big body has folded for us.
How dare you try and flatten out our landscapes,
try and ground-zero our confidence,
sink our self love below sea level?
You are not wanted here.
Loving ourselves is a battle enough.
We do not need you across the enemy line.
You are not firing any bullets we have not
released from our own triggers.
Your knives are freckled with our own fingerprints.
You are not intimidating compared to
soldiers we have made of our own minds;
Aiming, firing, at mirrors for target practice.
So stop trying to act so tough.
You are nothing but limp arms resting against
space bars like barges,
sloppy skin steering keyboards like war boats.

If you think this body is big,
wait until the weight of these words hits you
like a bullet to the chest,
until these words, heavy and dense and as thick
as my thighs push past your computer compound.
It is easier to break screens than it is to break us.
We are confident in these bodies. We are comfortable in our own homes.
Our words have backbone,
and a tiny man behind a tinier screen
will not tear this spine apart.

Jennifer Deschner is an 18-year-old senior at McKinley Senior High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she is captain of the school’s spoken word team and is heavily involved in every aspect of the youth poetry scene. Not only is Jennifer a poet, but she is also a devout Christian, an avid feminist, and has an extensive collection of odd socks. Jennifer will be attending University of Colorado in Boulder in the fall of 2015, and will be majoring in English with a concentration in secondary education and minoring in religious studies. Jennifer won second place in our

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