Escaping from Ourselves: a Poem

black and white photo of a man with his hands covering his face

Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder which causes people to have a distorted image of their body, resulting in excessively focusing on their perceived flaws. The causes include unrealistic and narrow beauty standards set by society, which are prevalent on social media. One aspect of body dysmorphia that I do not see discussed very often is how it makes forming intimate relationships, and even friendships, more difficult. I know many people who have avoided going to social gatherings because they are not comfortable with their own appearance and do not wish to interact with others — I’ve done the same thing many times.

I decided to write a poem about two people who are in love, but who are both struggling with body dysmorphia. This poem, called “Escaping from Ourselves,” is imaginative and idealistic. It starts off in a fantasy realm, a magical forest. This represents how difficult it is to find liberation from self-loathing in the real world, and how it seems as though it requires an escape. In the second stanza, the speaker of the poem realizes that they still can not be free from the self-critical thoughts in this fantasy, and that their own body image issues are preventing them from fully being able to express their love for another person.

Escaping from Ourselves

 I want to be with you in a forest, 

somewhere with ancient trees,

and a majestic canopy,

the only place where we can be free


I’ll bring my wooden flute there,

weave a crown of flowers for your hair,

listen to your lovely voice,

as it merges with bird song in the air


But you can not see your own beauty,

and I can not even look at myself,

your hatred for yourself goes down to your bones,

my disgust with myself prevents me from getting too close


Even in my forest fantasy,

where I thought we could not be touched by the hand of society,

our love would be thwarted by our own bodies,

not letting us love each other properly


Our dreams will shatter,

the fantasy will falter,

as soon as we see our reflections in the water



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