On Body Image and Norms

untitled“The little skeleton girl”

She was born without flesh.

It was just one of those things that happened sometimes: there was nothing anyone could have done about it and it was a blessing that it hadn’t been worse.

Her mother sat her down the day before the first day of school, tickled each vertebra in her back and said, “You have a spine.”

She knocked her knee caps and said, “You have good, strong legs.”

She stroked the underside of the girl’s flappy, yappy jaw and said, “You have a mouth, and a heart and a brain. You’ll be just fine.”

The little girl was late to school because a small, straw-y twig got stuck in her rib cage and it tripped her up. All the other kids knew each other already.

The girl had a crush on someone. She asked him to be her boyfriend. He held out his hand in her face and she didn’t know what it meant so she grabbed it with her bony claws and kissed it with her lips that weren’t lips. She felt something go from his palm to her mouth and it dodged past her vigilant tongue and slithered down, down, down into her stomach where it sat like a thumbtack in an airless balloon. He had shoved a tiny stone into her mouth to see if it would break her bones and though it was the most that anyone had ever hurt her, she did not cry but rather looked at the boy with a look of understanding that said that she saw that it was the worst thing he would ever do and that it would haunt him always and be the last thing he thought of before he fell asleep for a long time. Maybe it hadn’t been true before , but that look scared him so much that after it, the boy never did do anything worse, even when he was a man and there were many things he could have done.

The little skeleton girl, though, was pretty much done with the world after that, and she retreated to her room, where she wrote very very sad poems that hardly anyone understood. She did that for nearly the rest of her life.

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Andy Rofles