In the eye

A poem for all my sisters out there – Muslim or not – who struggle with body image, low self-esteem and self-worth. Know that Allah created you – and He did a good job. And regardless of whether you value yourself . . . He does

look me in the eye, girl

in the light of truth let’s see

stare me in the eye, girl

promise me you’re free

I’m worrying about you

I know you cry at night

look me in the eye and

tell me you’re all right

I know you’ve been cutting

your portions down

I know you’ve sworn this time

to turn yourself around

that this diet’s different

and that he’s telling you the truth

look me in the eye, girl

I want to see your proof

I know you

remember when you were small

such a lovely little girl

who looked up at the taller ones

and thought of them the world

you and I, we couldn’t wait

until we’d catch up

now we’re here do you ever wonder

why we wanted it so much?

’cause the magazines and videos, celebrities and tv shows . . .

and what you and I deny we know

but cry about at night, so

don’t look me in the eye, girl

instead let’s both lower our gaze

and look instead at the best of girls

to learn how to behave

who feared and worshipped her Lord

instead of how she looked

a soul so beautiful

it’s been preserved in holy books

who separated herself from men

except those who were God-fearing

so remember girl which ‘Him’ it is

we should strive to be nearing

I agree with you there’s more than looks

not all scarves mean piety

but the standards you said you came up with yourself

look a lot like society’s

so I’m wondering why

it seems to me

you only cover up

when you’re ashamed to be . . ?

look me in the girl

and tell me you’re at peace

that you don’t wish ‘haraam’ and ‘halal’

would suddenly switch place

that instead of pants, you could dress scant

“short and halters – what’s wrong with that?”

look me in the girl

say you never notice their gaze

tell me they’d look at you like that

regardless of how you behave

that lipstick and mascara

aren’t taking you farther

away from the One who created you beautiful

in the first place

I know you’re sick of hearing me

I know I’ve said a lot

but I have to say it now

I don’t know how much more time left I’ve got

to make the changes I have to make

and sacrifice for my soul’s sake

before the day when all this will be open to inspection

so I’m starting with you, girl

my own soul’s reflection.


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