Shrinking women vs womens’ place in the world

This evening a friend of mine shared a video on facebook that touched me. It is a powerful performance poem entitled ‘Shrinking women’ by Lily Myers. She opens with a visceral image of her mother across the kitchen table. A woman who is shrinking, ‘stealing calories’ that she does not feel entitled to whilst her husband, and the ancestral men around the narrator and the subject of the poem grow larger and ‘rotound’.

It is the age old problem that most of us women face: the desire for food versus the desire to remain small, petite, slim, size 0, to occupy as little space as possible, to apologize for the space we occupy.

In the sixth chapter of Tales from Aulora entitled ‘A Tale of a Teen Transformed’ Carys, who is overweight and living with an anorexic mother, does not wish to be smaller, she wishes to be accepted by her mother. Her mother Morag insists on putting her on diets so that her daughter conforms to societal expectations to be thin. Despite being only sixteen years of age Carys knows that she cannot do that because as she says to her friend Gwyneth: ‘I love food too much’. The fact is Carys also loves herself as well and she does not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She does not want to apologize for her size, for occupying her place in the world and thankfully with the help of Bill and Bob, who succeed in granting her wish, her mother sees the errors of her ways and abandons the slim notebook, the measuring tape, the locked kitchen door and the weighing scales so that mother and daughter can have a proper relationship and enjoy food together.

Yet that story is fiction, fantasy and poetry is often a political and personal statement of what is. I feel that Lily Myers captured that anxiety many of us women feel and have inherited. Many of us women continue with the tradition of remaining small, trying to get smaller and smaller, apologising for the space we occupy. Maybe it is time for us step up and accept our place on this earth, to grow large and rotound.


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