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Retail Therapy

Poetry, Jaida Mars

Teenage boys are the scariest creatures

They yell at you, tell you how to look and

They follow you home

I could pick apart what I didn’t like,

I could go shopping for new parts as if my

body was a car that needed to be fixed,

as if my body was a grocery store and I could just go shopping,

the 10% off deals would be the days where I was comfortably hungry,

because we learned everyone wants it more when the shelves are unstocked.

I wish for my stomach to be a bottomless jar,

because the burning is somehow my version of breathing,

But they follow you there too.

Teenage boys are scary as hell,

They can look at you and send your hand to your pocket,

searching for pepper spray

Obviously, the birdies, that could chirp loudly

If you needed help are banned, in most places because

We can’t cause a scene

Teenage boys,

Teenage boys tell me to stop taking up space in our

Dramatic, confusing, subliminal meanings.

I need some vague amount of empowerment —

like random, short bursts of narcissism that

build up inside me like plaque on my teeth

because I was taught apparently, that having

any confidence was as bad, and disgusting as having a cavity.

Teenage boys want me to put away my Taylor,

They follow me into a record store and say to “stop listening to basic white girl music,”

They tell me that we wouldn’t understand

Teenage boys should try to go shopping for us,

Because shopping is all we care about,

Teenage boys need variety like we are toys on a line and they could throw their darts to win a prize

Shopping again,

no, teenage boys love shopping

Let’s go to the mall!

Teenage boys love to love you in the parking lot or on the way home,

teenage boys love to love you at work when they say “don’t tell anyone”

Danger makes it more fun.

They like you when you’re young or you’re fresh

like the oranges in the market, they watch you

rot and wonder if it’s because they didn’t eat you early enough

At dinner tables they talk about NFTs,

leave the investing to the boys,

go back to talking about astrology

or makeup

or what shoes to wear

Teenage boys tell me to put away my feminism in a backpack,

I could carry it with me to class and try to say anything but it brought a new meaning to too much “emotional baggage.”

I am insane, and liberal,

God forbid I care about anything –

I will dye my hair blue.

Teenage boys tell me to focus on the “real issues”

Wasting their energy on talking about domestic violence is only done in the form of joking.

Table your feminism,

It’s about interest not access, but when

Every interest is supposed to be shame then

What do we do? THIS is what

I want to talk about at the dinner table.

I want to live in a world where my car fucking crashed and I could watch it burn,

I want to say sorry to the girls who got caught in the flames,

I miss the teenage boy who asked before he could kiss me,

before he called me a bitch after saying no,

Teenage boys want me,

but they want me when I’m not speaking,

Roll me up like a cigarette and burn me while I’m breathing

Teenage boys call me crybaby,

they like the girls that make them look smarter,

taller, telling us their superiority

is our protector.

Teenage boys taught me how to hide,

I hide a knife in my pocket while I walk at night,

I learn to run away from my problems

and I try to make men fit me

they are the shoes I wear and the way I tie my hair and the way my shirt clings to my skin

But my body is the only one that greets me when I come home —

so I look online, I click buy, and

wait for new clothes.


Jaida Mars (she/her) is a sixteen-year-old poet from Los Angeles whose work focuses on themes surrounding feminism, identity, and self-image. With her experiences as a 2nd generation immigrant growing up in a predominantly white community and being molded by the expectations of the patriarchy, her relationship with her body and appearance has always been a treacherous road. She considers her poetry a small window into how she and many others struggle with adolescence, growing up, and the feeling of needing to scream to be heard. Find her on Instagram at @jaidamarss or check out her website


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