By Isabelle Lundin, Oakland University
Transcript of the Poem
I will never know the generational and cultural trauma that you
Your generations upon generations have known
But I do know what it’s like to be told you are not beautiful.
Rhetoric can be a dangerous battlefield of ‘capture the flag.’
It can manipulate, building upon its own Kairos
So the effect no longer becomes a conscious change of heart,
But instead is unquestioned, unchallenged complacency.
So for your beauty, your worth, to be so inextricably tied to one, singular ideal
An ideal that has been
Into the very fiber of your culture
From unchecked rhetorical power
Hurts me too.
To be told, “you are not beautiful”
For reasons you yourself do not understand is painful.
I understand this in the smallest of ways.
From being redhaired and chubby throughout middle school
Tangled amongst my braces and my desire to learn
I could not be pretty if I wanted to be smart.
In fact, I wasn’t pretty to begin with
So I’m better off being smart.
In a small, incomparable way, I hear you, sister.
To have your own beauty defined for you
Deemed as beautiful or not from some intangible, invisible authority
Beyond our control
Will never not be painful.
But you are brave because you challenge this authority.
You demand, you question
You discover how it became this way
You fight against complacency and acceptance
And search for answers, for reasons, for history.
And you found it:
The rhetorical, ethical, moral injustices from long ago have left too large an imprint.
You are brave and you are beautiful.
Good rhetoric challenges other rhetoric:
It seeks to understand why some rhetoric is beautiful and why some isn’t.
And by illuminating this ugliness
You have only magnified your beauty
A beauty that was never missing from the start.