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146| When My Mother Calls Me Thin

Caroline Tanski

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I snap, “I don’t assign particular
value to thinness.” All my life she has told me
beauty is equal parts health and kindness, so much
that I began to believe her. With age I find
vice closer tied with virtue: vanity calls
for self-deprivation. Yet there’s no nutritional
value to guilt, no forgiveness found in a cupcake.
God won’t care if I pluck my eyebrows each day;
my liver doesn’t judge my Netflix queue.

We cannot be good all at once. A body
holds only so many merits, but contains
ample space for all faults. So leave me
to my minor sins, to my everyday sacred
imperfection. I try to find beauty
in clean, pink lungs, in books read and friends
kept. Still I primp and dress and maquillage.
The body has never been simple, and someone
in the end must feed all the worms.

Caroline Tanski is a writer, editor, and former library assistant who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned her MFA from Chatham University and writes about her mother with alarming frequency.

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