When 7th-grade teacher Brett Cornelius gave his class a spoken word poem assignment, one of his students, Olivia, presented a poem that resonated not only with her fellow classmates, but most of the internet as well. A video of her presentation posted to Facebook by Queen Creek Middle School, went viral – and for a good reason.
Olivia’s poem presented honest and raw insight into much of the issues that teenage girls face every day, including the unattainable expectations society pressures young women to meet.
In a Facebook comment, Cornelius said that most of her middle school classmates “were moved to tears” when they heard her presentation. The poem, which Olivia worked on for over a month, challenges cultural expectations and identifies them as what they are: unattainable and unfair.
Olivia structured the poem into 12 points. Each point broke down a different daily obstacle most teenage girls face, such as waking up and judging your body for how it may be perceived.
She said, “You take each comment, each judgment, each assumption, each opinion, each strange look, each remark, each criticism, each review, each report, each assessment and with it your self-esteem plummets like a sinking ship.”
“The turbulence will throw you off. And popularity isn’t always a good thing.”
“Society infers girls have to have skinny waists, tan skin, long silky hair, perfectly straight teeth, big butts, and etcetera,” she listed.
But most importantly, she stated, “Society is wrong.”
Olivia’s poem ended with a conviction and a message for both young girls and others forced to fit into unfair molds or to pursue unattainable expectations. “You are loved. You are precious. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are capable. You are deserving of respect. You can eat that meal. You are one in 7 billion. Most of all, you are good enough.”
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