Poetry

I Couldn’t Be Better: A Poem on Growing Up a Filipina

Insecurities are something that I definitely struggle with and in turn has influenced a lot of my daily life. One of the insecurities I’ve always struggled with is my skin color that even now, I’m still learning and trying not to see as a negative aspect. I wrote this poem after a day at school where my classmates were talking about their relationships and I felt left out for not being able to talk about anything.

Growing up in a colonized country, I didn’t realize I was living in one until someone pointed it out. “Why do you want to be like the people from that country so much?” I hate it.

I noticed the constant flash of advertisements telling me to buy these soaps to get whiter skin. I have bought one of those products. I hate it.

My aunt’s words haunt me in the morning and the evening, reminding me to coat my skin in the protective seal of lotion. The bottles of sunblock have become a silky white blur. I hate it.

Now, I’m a teenager and dating — or at least trying to. But the boys find only one girl pretty.

I wanted to ask her what soap she used. I hate it.

I tried and tried and try, but the advertisements lied.

I’m the only girl who hasn’t been liked a boy and I’ve started to notice the pattern. I feel betrayed that my parents weren’t of foreign descent. I’m angry that they allowed me to swim so much when I was younger. I’m hurt that they didn’t buy me better products.

I dislike the beach. My skin is slick. The sun is out. I’ve strategized what times to go out. It’s warm, but I’d rather sweat than let the sun take a glance at my skin. I’m trapped.

It’s been months since I’ve last talked to a boy and I feel like I’ve betrayed myself. I keep asking what’s wrong, but I don’t like the answer resounding at the back of my mind.

I think about all the things I’m missing and will miss because boys don’t find girls like me attractive. It feels like I’ve failed my purpose as a girl, as a daughter, as a woman in society. I hate that I cannot be what is expected of me and that I think I have to be anyone else besides me.

I think of other ways to compensate, but maybe it’s not the boys I should be thinking about. I should be accepting and appreciating myself — boys, suitors, and society be damned.

I think about the millions of girls thinking the same thing and feel disgusted that no one has told us to love ourselves sooner. I think about the lightness of snow in the winter and the clean aesthetic of a plain wall, but there’s also the different colors of fall and the pop of color in spring.

I think it’d be better to see a rainbow than a sky of just clouds.

Featured Image Courtesy of Jim Flores on Unsplash

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