Ink: The Way It’s Always Been

Takara Bayley-Gale, Poetry

Clothes are my art-form

they are the stories

the dances

the sculptures

the compositions

that guide my thoughts

and connect me to the world,

helping me feel more alive.


My mother believes

that girls should dress in


and shape-less clothes

so she makes me stray away from the newer, tighter fabrics

that are cut just an inch or two from the acceptable clothes

or reveal just a little bit more skin than she would like

yet I still find myself gazing at the pinks,

the blues,

the oranges,

the yellows

in the shorter tops, dresses, and skirts

that I had seen in my friends’ closets.




Crop tops.

Are all forbidden.

Girls are not supposed to show off their bodies,

showing them off makes the boys

feel like we’re opening our arms and legs to any and everything.

But why,

Why do boys get to think that?

Do they all go around thinking that?

That the way we dress is a translation of consent?


I remember when I was younger

all the outfits were identical in my school.

Then, no one cared about what you wore

because we all wore the same thing.

Now, I have a choice.

Whether I would want to be called a name and own a label I would be assigned

or hide all the colors and patterns lurking in my closet.

What would I choose?

Living with or against the patriarchy?


Secretly, I wish that I still had that boring uniform again so my thoughts

about the colors and patterns

would hide away

and would only be shown by those I see on weekends and over the summer

But I would still would wish for my stories

or my dances

or my sculptures

or my compositions

to comfort me as I search for myself in the dazed confusion of my mind.


Many girls show their art off

so vividly and colorfully

yet people stare

the boys and girls point and whisper

the boys take advantage of the sight of them and proclaim they love them

then they talk and label them

because it’s the way it’s always been.