The Big Chop

2019

I always hated my curly hair.
Looking back at my pictures when I was a baby, I always had this halo of baby hair that looked like I had just been electrocuted.
It was always tied up in a bun or a really tight braid, which caused my hairline to shift back a bit.

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The Handicapped Section

2019

My parents are Nubian.
I was born olive-skinned,
Like most Egyptians.
My brother, however,
Who’s a year and a half older than me,
Was darker-skinned,
Like most Nubians.
That’s not the only problem:
My brother has a disability:
A chronic ulcer on the sole of his foot.

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Kitchen Stove

2018

“What’s up with your hair? Put water or oils on it to make it softer.”
“Why is your hair like that? Why do you have such ugly hair?”
“Have your mother style it for you because it looks horrible like that.”
“Looks like the doorman’s wife styles your hair.”
beauty standards, hair, body image, bullying, social pressure

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Not the Loveable Kind

2019

Ever since I was young,
I was told that I’m not pretty,
Because I’m fat,
And that I shouldn’t eat too much,
Because I’d get even fatter.
I was told that it was gluttonous,
And unfeminine.

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Big Ears

2019

I have big ears.
That’s not a bad thing!
But I’ve been bullied a lot.
The kind of bullying that made me hate the fact that I have big ears.
I would imagine sometimes going into the bathroom with a pair of scissors and cutting them off.

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I Will Never Be Beautiful

2019

I’ve never known what it’s like to feel beautiful.
Every day I am reminded that I am fat,
That my "messy” hair looks bad,
And that I have a weird face.
My own mother tells me daily that I should lose weight.

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The Woman in the Alley

2014

I wish I could be like the woman in the alley.
The one who takes off her slippers and threatens to beat 14 guys in the metro,
Until they run away.

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They Separated Us

2012

They separated us.
Girls in one class,
And boys in another.
I thought it was better,
So that we’d be more comfortable,
And be able to ask questions freely.
But after explaining the upper part,
Ms. Amina said,
“That’s it.
You’ll read this lesson alone anyway.”

School, Period

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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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To My Brown Body

2018

I’m sorry it took me a long time to come to terms with you and accept you as you are.
But don’t be upset.
We still have the rest of our lives to love each other.
I’m sorry about the things you had to listen to.
The racism you faced.
body image, beauty standards, bullying, racism

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