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"10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy" is a 2013 poem written by Rachel Wiley. Performed at the 2013 National Poetry Slam, the poem explores Wiley's observations and thoughts regarding her relationship with a "skinny" man.[1] Wiley's performance of the poem was uploaded onto YouTube on August 17, 2013. The video has garnered over one million views since that time.[2]

Background[]

Rachel Wiley is a poet, performer, and body positive activist from Columbus, Ohio. Her poems center around the way society views fatness.[3]

In a 2016 interview with PBS, Wiley stated that she initially shied away from writing about her body. However, she was inspired to address the topic after hearing about two events that dealt with society's views regarding overweight people. The first event occurred in October of 2009 when designer Karmen Lagerfeld received backlash for writing that no one wanted to see curvy women on the runway. The second event occurred several months later when actor Kevin Smith was told that his weight was a safety risk on a Southwest flight. After hearing about these events, Wiley proceeded to write "Gorgon", her first piece to directly address the topic of fatness. Wiley continued to write about body positivity after publishing "Gorgon" in an attempt to examine the damaging effects of unrealistic body expectations found in U.S. media as well as the physical and emotional effects of bulimia.[3]

Wiley continues to focus on body positivity in her writings. She has stated that writing about fat bodies in a positive manner is radical in today's literary environment, believing that fatness is often used as shorthand for a person's negative qualities. Through her poetry, she hopes to reach those that have been targeted by body shame so that they can find refuge in her work.[3]

Wiley has gone on to compete in multiple National Poetry Slam Competitions and has been a finalist twice. She has toured the country, visiting slam venues, colleges and festivals.[4] Wiley has published two poetry collections, Fat Girl Finishing School and Nothing Is Okay.[5] The first book was published in 2014, while the second poetry collection took four years and was published in 2018. Her poem "10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved By a Skinny Boy" was published in her first poetry collection after the recognition it received and has been featured in Everyday Feminism and The Huffington Post.[1][6]

Content[]

"10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy" is a free verse poem broken into ten stanzas. Each stanza focuses on a thought or observation the overweight narrator has while dating a skinny man. Throughout the poem, the narrator struggles with self-acceptance as she reflects on society's views regarding those who are overweight.

In the first stanza, narrator states that she is fat. Her boyfriend replies that she is beautiful. She wonders why she cannot be both before he kisses her.

In the second stanza, the narrator remembers an incident in which her professor told her that she would never be cast as a romantic lead, despite her talent. She finds it ironic that people will hold their suspension of disbelief when witnessing shows featuring talking animals but balk at the idea of someone loving a fat woman.

In the third stanza, the narrator states that she does not feel pretty in the mornings. Her insecurity causes her to search the pockets of her boyfriend's jeans for the phone numbers of other women as he sleeps.

As the narrator holds hands with her boyfriend in the fourth stanza, she wonders whether he notices the stares that they receive. She compares herself to a parade balloon that he is handling.

In the fifth stanza, the narrator furiously calls out women's fashion magazines, refusing to listen to their sex tips on how to please men that they think her body is unworthy of.

In the sixth stanza, the narrator happily notes that her boyfriend loves her even when the lights are on.

As the narrator touches her boyfriend during the seventh stanza, she reflects on how she can "feel his ribs without pressing hard at all." [7] When she tells him that he is beautiful, he refuses to believe her. She expresses fear that he will one day leave her.

In the eighth stanza, the narrator and her boyfriend encounter a girl at the coffee shop. Assuming the two are just friends, the girl proceeds to flirt with the narrator's boyfriend, causing the narrator to feel insecure. In the weeks following the incident, she replaces her face in the couple's photos with that of the girl. When her boyfriend discovers this, he comforts her by taking new photos of the two of them, refusing to allow her to delete them.

In the ninth stanza, the narrator expresses her disdain for the phrase "Big girls need love too." She goes on to state that the act of loving her should not be viewed as a fetish and that she is not a novelty.

In the tenth stanza, the narrator once again states that she is fat. Her boyfriend tells her that she is so much more than that and proceeds to kiss her.

Reception[]

The poem was featured in an article on The Huffington Post, where the author said of one line, "We couldn't agree more."[1] The poem was also featured on the site Everyday Feminism.[6] The video has over 44,000 likes on YouTube with few dislikes. The comment section is primarily praise for the poem and poet.[2]

Publication[]

"10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy" was published by the company Button Poetry in the book Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley in 2017. Button Poetry shared Wiley's performance of her own poem on various social media outlets, such as Facebook and YouTube.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "'10 Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy' Breaks Down Every Bullsh*t Stereotype About 'Big Girls'". December 19, 2013 – via Huff Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rachel Wiley - "10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy"". August 17, 2013 – via YouTube.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Segal, Corinne. "The Problem with How We Look at Fatness, in one Poem". pbs.org. PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 27 February 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Bio". Rachel C Wiley.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "About". Timber Mouse Publishing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved By a Skinny Boy - Everyday Feminism". everydayfeminism.com. September 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Rachel Wiley – 10 Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy". Genius.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>