By Grace Cuddihy
About loving your pretty.
it’s somehow become necessary for men to like tell me that i’m vain
stop me when i’m taking selfies on the subway because my eyeliner looks, like, so good today
“how are you not embarrassed”—not a question, a statement
that pompous period framing his performative perplexity
like, does he um even know, the effort that it took for me to like, look this pretty?
years of youtube tutorials and of like, steady, dedicated practice to get that flawless wing
and yet he tells me, with his pious attitude and paternalistic perspective, that, like, i cannot appreciate my own pretty
he calls me vain, conceited, like those are words that are going to, you know, hurt me
that those words will dampen my pretty, that i will, like, put my camera down, and like, wash my makeup off my face
but like, i won’t, because um i love my pretty
i love my colorful makeup, and my cherry lip gloss
i love my lace, and my glitter, and my dress like, you know, pink candy floss
there is purpose in my vanity, power in my pretty,
and your pathetic passages don’t hold like a candle to my poetry
and you have the audacity to like, tell me that no one will take me seriously?
when we both know it’s my um, confidence that makes you like, scared of me
am i not tough or, you know, smart if i am making your dick hard?
my perky makes me, like, personable, my playful professional
i own my pretty and i am like, pretty exceptional
so you can fuck off with your patronizing pronouncements
because i love my pretty whether or whether not you allow it
Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology
For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
This piece started off when I was taking photos of my eyeliner on the subway and was approached and yelled at by a stranger for being “vain.” I was inspired by the poem, “Like Totally Whatever” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva.
Grace Cuddihy is a writer, an activist, foster dog parent, baking enthusiast, and high school junior. She loves writing personal essays and writes frequently about her experience living with chronic illness. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Survivor and phone banking. Grace’s favorite book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower and her favorite book series is Percy Jackson: Heroes of Olympus. Her favorite authors are James Baldwin and Toni Morrison.