Relaxer

2018

When I was young, my mother used to cut my hair even though I would beg her not to.
I had always wanted to have long hair.
“Your hair looks like a loofa,” she would always say.
I couldn’t tie it back when it was short.
It looked terrible under the hijab with the school uniform.
I was bullied at school because of my hair.
People would touch it and make fun of me.
body image, hair, beauty standards, bullying

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My Dear Belly

2018

Please accept my apologies for not accepting your existence for a long time and for trying to get rid of you.
I want you to know that your existence is comforting most of the time. 
I don’t want you to go anymore. 
You’ve been through a lot because of me.
body image, beauty standards

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Not Pretty Like Them

2018

My hair is curly. But my mother and relatives aren’t convinced.
“Are you going out with your hair all messy like that?” my mother would always tell me on my way out.
“Won’t you do something about your hair?” she’d tell me on our way to family gatherings.
“Don’t come with me if you won’t straighten your hair.”
body image, hair, bullying, beauty standards

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Mop Head

2018

My paternal grandmother always had a brush,
And loads of hair products ready with her to tame my “unruly”, unkempt hair.
She would sit me down on my knees,
pull at my hair painfully until it got detangled,
then she would apply a lot of hair cream,
pull my hair back into a bun or braid it,
Until the curls were no longer visible.

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The Memories Are Killing Me

2019

I’ve been subjected to bad things ever since I was a child.
It started with the bullying I’d get at school,
Because of my thin body and dark skin.

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I Took It Off

2010

I wore the hijab even though I wasn’t really convinced I should.
I was trying to please God, since it’s an obligation for Muslim women.
It was also a way of meeting society’s standards of being modest.

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The Curse of Turning 18

2019

My family was always very critical,
And they tended to make fun of people.
I was born with flawed joints.
I could walk very well and run and all that,
But when I stood,
My knees bent backward,
At first sight, it looked like my legs had been amputated.
My family always called me “Miss knees,”
And my mother always made fun of me in front of my siblings.
She thought I was inverting my knees like this on purpose.
She once even called me “disabled,”
And told me to straighten my knees.

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I Avoid Mirrors

2019

I have always been more or less fat ever since I was a toddler.
And as if that wasn’t enough to make my life miserable,
I have a very thin fraternal twin sister.

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Eyesore

2018

It was a family outing.
Almost everyone said,
“What’s wrong with your hair?”
“Straighten the frizz out of it.”
“Are you trying to be an eyesore on purpose?”
They were insensitive to my feelings as they made fun of me.
body image, hair, bullying, beauty standards, social pressure

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Natural Hair

2018

Back when I was in school, all the boys and girls would stare at my hair and call it a “brillo pad.”
I braided my hair most of the time so people wouldn’t notice I had coarse hair, and so I wouldn’t stand out.
body image, hair, beauty standards, bullying

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