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By Nicasia James June 5, 2019


Illustrated by Alessia Simo

It starts in gym class when a girl points out the hair on your legs

Too young to understand that her words will manifest as something much greater

Far more complex than your 9-year-old brain can process

Nonetheless, a seed has been planted

And soon torment will grow in your heart


It becomes the rolls under your shirt when you sit down

And the thighs too thick to fit into your friend’s jeans.

It’s the red bumps on your cheek that you cover with powder

and the fuzz around your mouth that makes your lips un-kissable


It turns into all the mornings you skip breakfast

convincing your mom that you were in a rush,

then the lunches you toss away

and the dinner you spend hours picking at

You hear the thunder-growls in your stomach

But you can’t stop the storm

Because nothing hurts more than how ugly feels


It becomes the miles you scroll down Instagram,

All the Likes you don’t get on a picture

The nights spent waiting for daylight yet dreading dawn

The hours staring into a reflection of blunders


Quickly buried, barely breathing under your own expectations

Suffocating on silent screams

Gasping for acceptance at the feet of those

who have greeted you with their boots

About the author

Nicasia James is a 2nd year student in Enriched Science.

About the illustrator

Alessia Simo is a first year Illustration student.

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    Andrea Strudensky

    January 19, 2020

    Wow! This is an incredibly powerful and moving piece. I think the line “Because nothing hurts more than how ugly feels” really resonates with those who can share (wear) the systemic way self loathing is inculcated in us from a very young age. That final image - being greeted by boots, is so powerful. It calls to mind this militaristic and harsh detachment from human suffering. The boots make it so impersonal, almost violent. Thank you for sharing this work.

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    Adeline A.

    January 25, 2020

    Beautiful articulation of an emotion many relate to in different ways. I believe everyone has fought a version of this battle. I found the last stanza to be the most powerful. My favorite line from that stanza is “Quickly buried, barely breathing under your own expectations” because of how well it illustrates the toxicity of comparing oneself to another. The people a young girl compares herself to are usually through the media. What is not realized is that before the publication of a photo it undergoes a multitude editing, creating something unrealistic and labeled as “a model.” I enjoy the way the verse captures how heavily this sits on the chest of a young impressionable girl and how she is “Quickly buried” by it.

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    January 27, 2020

    This piece of writing is well said, it touched my emotions to the core because I too suffered with many insecurity problems growing up, and still till this day. Every day I learn more and more about myself and this piece truly spoke to me because I can’t relate more to what you wrote about the red bumps on your cheeks. I know what the pain felt like calling myself ugly and it’s painful. Sometimes there are things we can fix because we are just made that way. I finally was able to teach myself how to be better for myself and how to love myself for me. Social media portrays a false image about how woman/girls should look like and I feel that as woman we should embrace and encourage each other no matter what we look like.

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    Michelle Ernest-Cohen

    January 27, 2020

    I loved this piece. It is incredibly relatable. Each line produced a feeling that I, as well as many other girls, are quite accustomed to. From the mention of the hair on our legs, to the rolls under our shirts, you truly captured the devastating feeling of viewing oneself as undesirable and ugly. Insecurities are so personal yet experienced by nearly everyone which makes this piece further meaningful as people can relate to it in different ways. Your choice of words to describe the emotions insecurities evoke (barely breathing, suffocating, and gasping) is spot-on. You did a great job of explaining the emotions we feel as a result of our insecurities by using such powerful words.

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    January 27, 2020

    Insecurities can only arise from caring what others think of you. It’s easy to say “don’t let people bring you down” or “the only approval you need to be happy is your own”, but it goes way beyond that threshold. Especially in a technology based world we are defined by our likes and followers so it is almost impossible to deny that we need other people to value us in order to feel valuable. I think this is a great piece as it is relatable to kids of our generation and the problems we face as we mature in the world.

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    January 27, 2020

    I absolutely loved this because of how realistic and relatable it is. Today, we often seem to get caught up in social media and what looks like “the perfect life style and body type”. However, the real focus should be upon ourselves. Instead of thinking about what is wrong with ourselves we need to start trying to think about what is right. That place of struggle to which you described as hunger where you hear the “stomach growls”. It was extremely well thought out and highly relatable. Amazing piece.

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    Lauren Janusauskas

    February 3, 2020

    This piece really resonated with me and hit hard because as a girl, me and all of my friends have experienced something related to or what the story talks about. This story was short but carefully thought out as each word held a deeper meaning. Every aspect of it is incredibly true to almost every girl’s life. Every sentence reached at my emotions and tore at my heart a little more than the one before.  I especially liked the part “You hear the thunder-growls in your stomach. But you can’t stop the storm”. I illustrates such a strong image with the power of a thunder storm which depicts the situation extremely accurately. Incredibly written. The piece is simple yet powerful.

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    morgan d

    August 31, 2020

    Insecurities are something that have been felt by so many people, regardless of gender. This writing piece really connects with me because it is truly relatable as a young female. From a young age you are exposed to ever-changing beauty standards; it is something that forms and changes your self-perception. When you’ve become accustom to zoning in on the toxic image that portrays “beauty” in this society, you lose your love for your own self beauty. The last stanza in the last section, “quickly buried, barely breathing under your own expectations” shows just how destructive your own self-perception can be.  To me, this piece really depicts the harsh emotions behind the cruel reality of our society’s image of beauty.

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    hailey fletcher

    August 31, 2020

    Nacasia James infused so much power in such little words.
    The piece “Insecurities” speaks volumes to so many little girls, teen girls and even grown women. It is true that the seeds are planted young, when we do not even know what that seed is or the potential power it holds.
    The author mentions insecurities like hairy legs, belly rolls, acne and even hunger.
    These are all things that we as people are meant to feel yet somehow down the line we were convinced other wise.
    That women are lesser with hair and fat.
    That we shouldn’t allow our faces’ natural oils to build up or our bodies to get hungry.
    The line “Because nothing hurts more than how ugly feels” hit me like a truck. Because it is true. It is truly scary that a sentence so saddening can be such a common feeling among so many young people.
    All in all, this piece shows how one sentence can go so far which is actually ironic seeing as the author expressed this in under 250 words.

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    Farah. S

    August 31, 2020

    In this poignant and upsetting piece, Nicosia James drew without fault a picture of years of sufferance and self consciousness in only a few sentences.Each word weighed more than the last and captured the familiar and heartbreaking feelings we’re subjected to on a day-to-day basis. James flawlessly grasped the essence of this poisonous feeling of hopelessness facing all our insecurities and explained it in the finest way for everybody to understand. Each and every unrealistic beauty standards we were accustomed to at such a young and innocent age, have damaging and permanent impacts on women and their self-images. “Quickly buried, barely breathing under your own expectations”, such a simple yet powerful line. It truly and precisely embodies the disastrous effects of comparison and constant belittling.

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    September 1, 2020

    Out of all the texts I’ve read so far on Space, this is my favourite. It’s well expressed and relatable. Despite how short and easy to read it is, its message is the one that stuck with me the most. I love the innocent start that eventually becomes a much bigger problem as you read more of it. It really shows the long term effect one comment could have on somebody. A sad experience like that is unfortunately shared by many and I love how Nicasia James put it into words.

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    negin zareifar

    September 1, 2020

    Such a powerful piece! It is very well written and extremely relatable. For someone who grew up with many insecurities I felt really touched. Everyone, regardless of gender, has felt like this at least once in their life and this short story showed how devastating and hurtful it can be. I liked the part where the author had written “Too young to understand that her words will manifest as something much greater” because it demonstrates that insecurities start at a really young age with simple words from our friends and family. It is important to choose our words carefully when we talk with kids and teenagers and teach them to embrace and love themselves. I found this a significantly brave piece which deals with an important issue in our society that should be addressed more often.

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    Cass H-B

    January 23, 2022

    This is an incredibly powerful piece. Despite its short length, it contains so much meaning. To me, this perfectly describes how destructive one comment can be. The text depicts the emotional fallout that a young child experiences when they receive a comment about their body and how it quickly damages their mental health. As I have had similar thoughts to the author, I can relate to this text. “Nothing hurts more than how ugly feels” is the phrase I find most interesting. When you think that something about yourself is ugly, it is very painful. The reason is, you cannot change most of these things, and you feel suffocated by your own skin. While this text discusses many negative emotions, I think those emotions are necessary to understand how others feel. It is a very good poem.

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    Carly Servetis

    January 23, 2022

    ‘It starts in gym class when a girl points out the hair on your legs’

    In this piece it shows the feelings that many girls and woman face in life. Our society has made us insecure about everything on our body from body hair, to the smallest blemish on our skin.We aren’t born with insecurities but develop them from comparing our bodies at a young age. To shaving our legs at 9 years old just because of a comment made by a fellow classmate. We all try to fit in a box for other people’s standers and their ideal perception of perfect, yet nothing is good enough. Scrolling through social media seeing the perfect faces or bodies but perfection doesn’t exist, it’s a fantasy word only we can find our perfect within our selves. This is how young girls grow up with many insecurities in life. Many men or boys will also face insecurities in their life seeing other boys better at sports or other men with tiger muscles. Its an endless cycle of comparison. This piece really touched because of its realistic topic and detailed examples.

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