“Inheritance is accidental,” Lily Myers says in her spoken word poem “Shrinking Women” that recently went viral. In just three and a half minutes, Myers’s poem encapsulates the lessons she has unconsciously absorbed from her family — lessons about food, space, and entitlement, and how women experience those things differently than men do.
Her mother, Myers tells us, is the latest in a line of shrinking women in her family, women who grow smaller and smaller, who eat as though they think they don’t deserve food. The poem touches on so many things: eating disorders, women’s tendency to say “sorry” all the time, the way we socialize boys and girls differently, our relationship to our parents and the things we pick up without meaning to. And throughout the poem, food connects to all these things, as though women's complicated relationship to food is connected to their self-esteem and their childhoods and their families. Which, of course, it is.
"Women in my family have been shrinking for decades," Myers tells us, and watching her, it's obvious she's trying to avoid such a fate even though she's inherited all the things that made them shrink.
You can and should check out the full poem here:
Image: screenshot from buttonpoetry via YouTube