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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

A Student Indicts the Beauty Ideal Through Poetry

Jesica Blandon, a sophomore at the Bronx's DreamYard Preparatory School, performs her poem "I Was Told Mama Had All the Answers." More to this story.

A Student Indicts the Beauty Ideal Through Poetry (Transcript)

Jessica: My name is Jessica Blandin, and the title of this poem is, "I Was Told Mama Had All The Answers." I feel as if I were conceived in a cacophony of imperfections, holding lies that were neatly hidden in my whole existence from my image to my first name. Missing pieces as if I had left them in the womb at birth. Mama, I need you and your nimble words, because fingers can no longer trigger the gag reflex, and all I want to do is become a woman. That woman, and I know I'm not an artist, but for a while now, I've been trying to paint a portrait of the truth, finding it impossible to paint a picture of something you don't understand here, Mama. The truth paints a picture that I can't see, because I've been sitting too close up to my television screen. Mama, where are you? See, the teen years are here now, and I find myself feeling bewildered, see, half of the things I deal with on a day-to-day basis, leave me confused, and no, I'm not talking about trying to figure out how to tie my shoes at four, confused. No this is far from that. And though you have never heard my lips whisper words of an insecure child, when I asked you for colored eye contacts, you should have known. When I told you that curly hair wasn't quite what appealed to my classmates' eyes, and asked you for a perm, which, by the way, made my hair fall out, you should have known, or maybe even the time I cried because I couldn't fit into a size three, Mama, weren't you watching out for your only baby girl? Mama, I need you to write me a letter that can explain why teens across the nation find blood to be the color of solace, after dealing with problems far beyond their understandings and why I am one of them. Sing me lullabies that can wash demons of media's causings away, Mama, are you listening? Are you listening? See, nowadays, I feel as if the only thing I have to offer this world, are the words I manage to squeeze out of a pen I found inside my book bag, and lately, those words haven't been worth much. A hundred and thirty pounds at five-three. Fifteen years of age, dang, Mama, I'm overweight thighs rubbing to the tune of many insecurities. My arms jiggle when I wave, hanging face first over a toilet bowl tonight is more than what yesterday couldn't fix, but what tomorrow will have to deal with. Nothing, but another pair of jeans, European cut so they can't fit, and though I hate math, the numbers never lie, right? And I can never turn a size five into a three, overnight. So yes, Mama, here I am, holding on to a self esteem that isn't even knee-high, trying to understand if beauty lies in silicone implants, facelifts, and tabloids -- Mama, all I want to do is dream unsightedly. Look into my mirror, and not ask my television screen if I fit its vision of perfection. See, at 15, the only thing I'm aiming for is to become a woman, and I swear that the announcer guy on Channel 52, just called Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, women. Beautiful, perfect women. Thank you.

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