Marie Pulido, age 17
I wanted to highlight and recognize the struggles of being not only a girl but the oldest girl in an intense family dynamic. I took great inspiration from poet and activist Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” as her poem emphasizes similar themes of expectations and realizations of what is defined as “womanhood.” In addition to this, coming from a Mexican household that carries immense intergenerational trauma, I recognize that these traits and ideals become intensely woven into self-identity. I am the Older Sister – I am expected to follow these ideals and more. But I gain drive from these ideals, as I will be the one to break the chains of expectations and trauma.
Keep your hair clean, so you look presentable in the morning; shower the kids, feed them, and nurse them when tired; cut and clean your nails, so you can look sweet; shave your arms and legs, so you can be fresh and soft; make the bacon crisp, tender, to feed the world; give your time to your family as they do not have you for long; count the books you’ve read – you must keep track; lie on your white sheets and don’t let them get stained; be perfect as many follow behind; take Tylenol to heal the back pain; fold the load of laundry before your mamá gets home; write the essays that will bring you to a better and newer day; pray to La Virgen de Guadalupe when you feel heartache; be gently stern with the children; don’t challenge the Father; walk barefoot outside when the world starts to close in; count the books a second time – you got it wrong; lie on His shoulder for comfort when ill; sing behind closed doors; don’t be shrill; eat arroz y frijoles; hold your grandparents tight; keep sweet y mándame; be the best you can be; you are the highlight of the bloodline.