Dysmorphia – The Townley Venus

I stumbled upon this poem by Annie Rew Shaw quite by chance … knowing too many people who suffer from body dysmorphia – dislike of their own bodies – resulting in eating disorders, self mutilation, and who knows what else.  In Christian theology, incarnation is a vote of confidence in the material world and human beings.  To be created in the image of God is not necessarily to be created in the image of a magazine model.

More of Annie’s poetry can be found at:

She sings, too, under the name Austel:

The Townley Venus

The first time I saw Venus
The Townley Venus at the British Museum
I was overthrown

Her stomach, gentle curvature
Arms risen in strength and fullness
Exposing a body, proud

But –

She does not look like the models I’ve seen
I carry a heavy cloud of shame
– my body does not match theirs

Perhaps, with Venus, I recognised for the first time
My reflection – formed in similar fashion –
Replicated in stone
Standing tall
Not hidden beneath the baggy t-shirts I so
frequently adorn myself with
But naked
And open
For all to see


Now –

Just a reminder…

Venus is the second planet from the Sun
The only planet named after a female God
A God whose functions encompass love, beauty, desire,
sex, fertility, prosperity, victory
Born of sea-foam
Mother to all

Her depictions are many; all full-fleshed and rounded

So –

Why do I feel the urge to cut off my own skin
Carve myself down to bone
To mirror something I am not

When this Goddess, the symbol of life
Looks like that?

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