The Pressure

By March 17, 2012 18 Comments

the pressure to have an arm that looks like that
and legs that look like that
and a belly like that
pressure to tone this to that
to be a size this
weigh that
How many days have you lost?
How many murders of yourself?
How many times have you
clamped down because of it,
quieted the moon because of it,
or didn’t ask the sun to dance?
She mourned this one morning,
and wondered,
what would it be like, without the pressure?
-Tara Sophia Mohr
What would your life be like, without the pressure to change your body, or to keep it conforming to our culture’s ideal? Please share in the comments.

Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • Nancytomkins says:

    Lovely poem Tara….yes what would it be like without this pressure…why compare ourselves to others at all, although I guess we all do it…. I think I’ll go walk in the rain and not care about getting wet!

  • Patti says:

    I love this! Wish more people would not succumb to the pressure. While I have some moments where it gets to me, overall, I have gotten to the point where I love the way I am inside and out. It’s a good feeling to have and I am determined to keep it that way!

  • I can relate to “The Pressure” and I’ll bet many out there can too. Many times, I have thought about what it would be like without it, and just be thankful for how I am and that, I am.

  • Donna Davis says:

    Hello Tara,
    I suffer from chronic anorexia, and while it may be too late for me to escape, I hope your poem inspires others. You are right on to suggest the cultural obsession with diet and food and “health” as well as body size & appearance, esp. for women though men are no longer spared, is a way of keeping us preoccupied, & small. You must know the work of the late great Caroline Knapp from the San Francisco Chronicle–I recommend her book, “Why Woman Want” to everyone who tries to see over the sides of the cultural box or playpen. Bless you Tara I love your stuff.

  • Annie Dye says:

    This reminds me of a great book that I read several years ago called “Growing a Girl” by Dr. Barbara Mackoff which talks about our opportunities as mothers, teachers, adults to help girls between birth and the age of 12 to be strong as they face cultural messages about their bodies, their spirit and their roles. As I talk to my own 9-year-old daughter about being strong (physically and otherwise), understanding herself, making decisions, I realize that I am saying these things for myself, too. I get to choose what is important to me, and what pressures I respond to – and how. Thanks for the great poem!

  • Wonderful poem Tara. “murders of yourself” describes it so well. So much wasted time waiting to be ‘thin enough’…whole decades lost.

  • I just finished reading “How To Be A Woman” by Caitlin Moran (available in the US beginning July 17th) – the entire book speaks to this – how we twist ourselves up to fit a particular idea or view of what a woman is/should be – love the poem and recommend the book highly.

  • Sherry Brown says:

    Very powerful and beautifully said.
    For Donna Davis~ it’s not to late until you breathe your last breath. Somewhere between striving to be what others expect and what we want we need to find healthy and accept that.

  • Dianne Lincoln says:

    This message is so important. Women of all ages are bombarded daily with the airbrushed “perfect” women in maggazines, movies and TV , and too often begin to feel that if they don’t measure up to that perfection they are always lacking. More women like you need to step up and say just make the most of what you have and know “You are enough!”

  • Karen B says:

    I’m not sure where the pressure comes from – I think it’s all part of the whole ‘not being good enough’ and the pressure to have one’s body conform is merely an aspect of this. I long for the day that I can look in the mirror and feel that I like what – and who- I see looking back at me. Thank you for the poem – it’s beautiful x

  • S. Mikayla says:

    Love this! I will have to keep a couple of these lines in my head as a refrain. I wish I was immune, but of course, it’s always something you have to be aware of. Too much time wasted! I refuse to give up another hour, not creating something, not growing my spirit, just to contemplate my body. This is the body I was given. It doesn’t look like a model’s – but it’s strong, fitting, and mine.

  • LASHPAL says:

    Thank you for sharing your poem. I am living pressure free life but sometimes worry what will happen to my finances if i start living according to my own way without any pressure.

  • EMS says:

    There would be no pressure if we could love the skin we’re in!

  • maggie says:

    I spend every day of my life wishing to be invisible, trying not to attract attention, and pretending like everything is fine when I interact with people. I try desperately not to feel the eyes on me when I walk from my office to my car, living the life I want in my head but never ever letting it extend to this body of mine. I want to learn to dance, to enjoy the rhythm of the beat with my body, but I would feel ridiculous. I want to be strong again, to enjoy using my body, to see definition in my arms and legs instead of lumps and misshapen limbs.

    I cringe every time I hear a fat joke, but I just paste a blank expression on my face, not acknowledging that I heard it. I go through the motions of being alive, but some days it takes so much effort to get through the day that I don’t have the energy to make the changes I should make. Thank you for making me think about this because every journey begins with just a step. Tomorrow I can start with the step of a new attitude, one of compassion for myself instead of disgust.

  • Anne Pillsbury says:

    This post is timely for me. As I’ve travelled along my journey to become a certified coach my mantra is to love myself courageously. My body image has been coming up as a hurdle I’m ready to get over. The internal dialogue around the image of what I “should” be and where I am is exhausting. Talk about an energy drain! Instead of honoring my body for birthing four beautiful children, being strong and healthy, never failing me, I am constantly criticizing it for not conforming to my image of what I want it to be. I so want to accept and know I am enough just where I am today.

  • […] The Pressure, a poem by Tara Sophia Mohr: Oh how I know this pressure, and want to discover what it might be […]

  • Veronique says:

    Yes indeed, a huge pressure. Even my 14 year old is already complaining about her body. We are all so pushed into this “need to look like / need to be like”. I will share the poem with her and we’ll talk it through. Thank you Tara, for sharing!

  • Joe Breunig says:

    Pressure, in of itself, is not a bad thing; the problem comes from pushing concepts to extremes. For example, many women readily acknowledge that the ‘ideal woman’ personified in the form of the “Barbie doll” is an unrealistic one; yet people contine to purchase this doll, since its inception. It makes me wonder “why”, given the consumers’ purchasing power and right to say “no” to products that are offensive to one’s sensibilities.

    -Joe Breunig
    Reaching Towards His Unbounded Glory

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