Emma Whitehall


A soft, pink word.
Impling spotted aprons and ruddy cheeks,
Frilly dresses and spoiled children.
A word made of blancmange.

A word some workplace stranger felt
The best fit for a compliment
Adding, sheepishly in brackets
That they “didn’t mean to be rude.”

Like it was unavoidable.
I was only recognisable
In terms of my body – what identity
Could I possibly have beyond it?

I couldn’t just be helpful.
I can’t be funny, clever or skilled.
I can only be described, dismissed,
By the very base of me.

Every glance sends a message.
Every badly lit photograph,
Every pair of ill-fitting jeans.
Even at my best, I am still just a plump girl.

I laughed it off.
Rolled my eyes.
Calmed angry tears in the back room
And went back to work.



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