“All because she tried so hard to stay fit ” By Dominique Nieves

Inline image 4Dominique Nieves was a student of mine at the Ailey school in the Junior Division when she was in High School. That was many years ago, she attended Columbia University earning a BA in Dance (she did a Biomechanics based thesis in dance, and used my experience at Ailey to discuss the impact of training in both ballet and modern on the muscles and joints of the hip and knee specifically), currently she is doing a special post-bacc program. She recently sent me a poem she wrote about her body image, but I will let you hear it…In Her Words….

She wrote me :

Hi Ms. Howard!!

So I revisited your blog and I wanted to send you something to contribute. If this is something you think might be cool to add please feel free to do so. Below is a poem I wrote when I was 16 years old and a student at Ailey. I was taking a creative writing class and my teacher assigned the prompt “fit”- that’s all. I wrote the the following poem in response. I was the only one who interpreted the word with this meaning.

“Little girl cries at night with the magazine under her pillow
Wondering why she can’t look like those models, she’s weeping like the willow
Pressured from more sides than one, a building anxiety
Other girls, the boys, her ballet class, not to mention the rest of society
Eats nothing but fruit for an entire week but not one ounce is shed
Angry at the scale for those evil numbers that it said
So consumed with hunger she gets dizzy spells
And buys all the diet pills that the drug store sells
Trying a new one every week and bearing the side effects
Doing videos she found online promising abs, obliques and pecks
Burning a whole in her stomach and one in her throat
Feeling guilty after indulging in a root beer float
She just yearned to feel normal when out with her friends
Is forcing yourself to throw up normal? it all depends
Was it normal when her ballet teacher told her to lose weight?
Or when her mother tormented her for the food that she ate
Or for her own friends to joke about her big behind
Someone who understood her was too hard to find
Her size one companion gobbling French chocolate cake
While she worried about the calories in her slim fast shake
Media surrounded her with skinny bodies, everywhere she looked
The next attempt, was avoiding anything that was cooked
Her hair became dry and her fingernails brittle
Her skin grew pale, her confidence little
Lacking nourishment & her time winding down
On the outside a smile, on the inside a frown
Not long till the damage she was doing to her body would appear
But she was silenced, sending cries no one but her could hear
She was weak and she was weary but it was too late to turn back
Her body became a hollow, corpse like sack
But when she looked in the mirror she still saw a fat girl
So she ran to the bathroom and began to hurl
Her body could no longer handle the erosion
The breakdown happened as suddenly as an explosion
Cardiac arrhythmia, like a bullet to her chest, she was hit
And all because she tried so hard to stay fit”

-Dominique Danielle Nieves

Inline image 1taken at the time she wrote the poem….

-1in the creative writing classroom- I was asked to do a little diddy for them at the end of the semester

Inline image 3

One thought on ““All because she tried so hard to stay fit ” By Dominique Nieves”

  1. I went to school with Dominique and she confided in me these issues she was dealing with. I never had nay idea the full extent to which they affected her, and only now as an educator do I understand the implications that social constructions of beauty and perfection put on us. I hope other young females and males can read this and see it as a warning, resonating to them that they are beautiful fit or not fit,. They come to beauty and perfection by naturally being who they are.

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