Beauty Is

China, aged four
her grandmother explaining the ritual of breaking toes,
massaged with herbs and wrapped in silk.
The gold lotus foot, perfect, three inches
and perfecting that lotus gait, impressing the emperor
but underneath her flesh rotting, toes dropping
each step a dedication,
Dead now from infection and perverse tradition

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Behold her, in the ground now and the
Ants are eating her.

Somalian girl, 7 years old
held down on a table
while an untrained woman holding a razor
performs the Gudniin, a religious tradition,
making her pure, preserving her chastity
‘til on her wedding night she’ll be opened by husband.
Dead now from massive blood loss
and shock to her system

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Behold her, in the ground now and the
Ants are eating her.

Brazilian beauty queen, seventeen
from catwalk to coffin in a matter of years
travelling the world, earning a wage
supporting a family.
Size zero, a workplace obsession
counting up calories, counting down dress sizes,
coveting cover shots and international fame
Dead now from internal organ failure

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Behold her, in the ground now and the
Ants are eating her.

© Aisling Doherty

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