I wish you could have heard Lydia perform this. Heard the cracks in her voice. The power in the breaks of silence. I wish you could have seen the tears in the audience's eyes. But not everyone can attend Words on the Avenue, so I asked her to share her poem here. 

This is for every person who's ever experienced a sigh, glance, or conversation that asked if you've always been "like this."

When I see photos other people take of me,
I can’t help but feel like I am looking at myself
from above. I can’t help but think, “That is not
my body.” Those are not my overflowing thighs.
Those are not my knees, as wide as a colorless horizon.
That is certainly not my stomach, unraveling over
the waistline of a pair of shorts.

A doctor I didn’t know very well once asked me if I’d always
been “like this”. I wanted to tell her that bodies are such
strange things. I wanted to tell her it amazes me that when
I first began taking up space, I only weighed six pounds
and fourteen ounces. It amazes me that swallowing
a five milligram pill once a day for two months at
age fourteen made me “like this”. I wanted to tell her
that I was not always “like this”.

Once, I was one of the smallest kids in my class. Once,
my metabolism was faster than the Winter Solstice. I didn’t
always overflow and unravel. I could fit into the role
of Conventionally Beautiful without breaking the zipper.
I was not always “like this”. And when I feel like I need to,
I compare my body to the sky because it is one of the few parts
of nature I can relate to. The sky is fat, she wears the Universe
as though it’s a Size 16 gown, a Size 18, a Size 20 or 22.
The sky does not determine her worth by a number. The sky
is proud of herself, no matter what.

When I look back, I wonder if I should have told the doctor
that maybe I am disconnecting from the reality of who I am,
but at least I am closer to happiness than I’ve ever been.
I should’ve told her, fat is not a bad word, and I can’t think
of myself as overflowing anymore. I’m not a kitchen sink.
I’m not a small town in the middle of a tropical storm. I am
a body. I am somebody. I am somebody looking at herself
from the ground-level, and loving every inch of it. I am
a happy body. And this: this is my body.

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