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  • Writer's pictureThe Magnolia Literacy Project

Di'Ovion Smith "Big Girls Can't"

Updated: May 30, 2022

In her poem, “Big Girls Can’t", Di'Ovion Smith questions superficial standards forced onto women and girls while challenging her audience to think of beauty as a multidimensional quality. Smith is a junior at Tougaloo College.

"Big Girls Can't"

Big girls can't be beautiful

That's what a toxic culture beat into my head

I can't have this extra weight on my body or my thighs can't rub together

Just to receive an ounce of respect

Just an "ok" guy to notice me

Being a big girl isn't attractive so even if I am something like cute

I'm still not cute enough to ever actually matter

I see the way they look when I walk past in a half shirt

With my glistening belly ring

Like the smaller girl that just walked in two minutes before I did

But I'm dressed

Too indecently

Too provocatively

Which REALLY only means my size is the problem

So I gotta cover up to fit the standard

Just because the people around me don't approve

And Lord forbid I should wear anything stylish

Or actually try to look like I got fashion sense

Cause everybody knows that fashion ain't for big girls

And sweatpants with large t-shirts

And some slides

Or maybe sneakers

Is all they ever ‘pose to see me in

Big girls can’t be confident either

It’s pretty well known that a woman’s weight determines how she is treated

And what she should and should not do

I can't smile in pictures

I can't pose

I can't walk with a switch

I can't have pretty friends

I can't get my hair did

And Lord forbid

I see a cute guy

And might ONLY JUST wanna befriend him

I bet’ not look in his direction

Because when a big girl looks at a guy

She might offend him

Spoiler alert: just because I think you're cute doesn't mean I want you

Big girls can't feel free in their own skin

Lizzos and Tokyo Vanitys are embarrassments

Because big girls aren’t ‘pose to love themselves out loud

That means "glorifying obesity"

I mean, forget the proven fact that “big” doesn't always equal “unhealthy”

But if you’re big and you love yourself

Then you must be disconnected from reality

Big girls can't be happy

That's what a toxic culture beat into my head

It’s been hard at times to look at myself in the mirror

Because I learned to look through someone else’s eyes

But I've recently learned to unlearn

And realize that I am ME

Always have been and always will be

Nobody can tell me what a big girl can't




Or who I can love

Or befriend

Or what I can and cannot dream

Big girls can’t …

EXCEPT when I look through my own eyes


I can see








Staring back at me

I accept myself, so I no longer give a damn about what you see.


The Magnolia Literacy Project’s

initiative to showcase the writing and art

of Mississippians.

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