The Beauty Myth – Joann Cohen

She wanted virtuous things for me.  She wanted to heal my soul and help me believe in love again. 

She wanted me to think, explore and consume the possibilities within me. 

She wanted to show me that despite the fact we were from the margins of society at the time, we could achieve great things. 

The brevity in her speech was intense. Her love for me had been there since childhood. 

Her example of being a scholar was carried on her shoulders and beamed throughout her heart

It was a chance of a lifetime to study with her once again. The fact that our bodies had changed didn’t go unnoticed.  And as usual, came the criticism underneath all that love. Why couldn’t I lose more weight and why couldn’t I find skincare products that actually did something for my skin.  My appearance was too hard on her to take. She had an image of me that I didn’t measure up to.  

The excitement of studying grew tense inside of me. I tried to smile and promised to do better with caring for myself.  Suddenly, I was 13 again. Feeling shamed for who I was. Feeling shamed for not becoming what she wanted.  Beauty on the inside wasn’t valued. Superficial appearance was everything to her. That is when our relationship ended. And I had no lipstick on when I told her “ I am enough as I am!”


Joann Cohen is a passionate poet and painter when she is not writing or painting you can find her running at high speeds to avoid the Southwest monsoon lightning. Her work has been published internationally at Passionate Penholders chapbook, Olive Skins, and Free Verse Revolution. You can find more of her work at jomillyArt

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