A Little Girl’s Shame

The following is my response and representation of our most recent study on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I have chosen to write a spoken word poem with the hope of using this as the foundation for my TED Talk.


I remember being a little girl
I remember the way your perfume lingered in your clothing
so that when I buried my tear-soaked face into your shoulder,
I could still smell its airy aroma, to this day when I smell it
I think of you.

I remember being a little girl
I remember you taking the little red car from my little pink hands
and telling me girls
don’t play with cars and trucks and capes and guns,
girls play house and dolls and sit not run.

I remember being a little girl
and wishing that I knew what little girls did
without being told so that I could stop
disappointing you.
I will never forget the shame that taunts little girls
when they don’t act like, little girls.

I remember being a young lady
who showed you my art,
and read you my work,
and danced in pink frills,
just like young ladies are supposed to.

I remember being a young lady
who despised all those things and instead
wanted to run faster than any boy in the field,
be stronger than any kid in my grade,
and prove I was not just a young lady,
I was a great force to be reconded with.

I remember being a young lady
who apologized a lot.
For you felt the shame that haunts the mothers of young ladies,
who do not act like, young ladies.

Now I am a woman
and I hardly remember you,
the one who filled my little head with little dreams.
You who fought my will
with which you could not win,
for you surrendered yours long ago
to your own mother.

Now I am a woman
I do not paint, yet I am powerful.
I do not dance, yet I am elegant.
I do not make myself small or silent, yet I am your daughter.
I am not a mother, but when I am my little girl will know nothing
about shame, for she will not know you.


   Throughout the novel Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is suffocated by the pressures of others – individuals telling her to settle. One of these individuals is her own mother, and like my own relationship with my mom, Elizabeth never felt supported throughout her endeavors.  Done out of love, the actions of her mother proved useless, and instead, isolated her from the popular belief of her family. The traditional ideas of marriage and status claiming the highest importance in an individual’s life, continue to haunt many young people 200 years after the novel’s publication. Many of us are still placed under the oppression of these ideas, and are encouraged to act in a manner that is deemed appropriate for our gender; unfortunately, this leads many children to believe that the desires of society outweigh their own.

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3 thoughts on “A Little Girl’s Shame

  1. Dear Emily,

    This was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. I loved how you expressed the difficulty in being your own individual in the face of societal expectations. If this is where your Ted Tallk is going I am SOOOO EXCITED.

    Furthermore, I loved the last line…anyone would love the last line, it was amazing. You made it clear that shame dose not come in being different, in comes in the actions and words of those who make you feel different.

    The only improvement I can offer is actually an idea for adding some more depth to the piece. More specifically, when you say that you want to be faster than any boy in the field, compare it to yourself. For instance: “I want to be faster than any boy in the field, not the girl sitting in the crowd, cheering him on.” I feel as though having that direct comparison will add some depth. More like a perspective that captures what society would want in the face of what you want.

    All in all, the piece was calling out the flaws in society in a way personal to you and it was eye-opening. Great work.


  2. Dear Emily,

    As usual, I loved reading this piece because you have such a unique style that is able to capture important ideas with a simplistic format and structure, which is something I really appreciate.

    I think what I enjoyed most was your take on societal pressures and the different ways a woman can respond to literally being suffocated by society. It was so interesting to read this and grow with each new paragraph, understand the shifting of time, and think about what it really means to be a woman.

    I would offer that even though your piece is inspired by a classic text, the ideas and beliefs still hold true to a certain extent today. It really was beautifully written and my favourite part was connecting almost every topic to the idea of motherhood.

    As Sania previously stated, I would have loved to see some more depth into what you are talking about because honestly I just want to read more.


  3. Dear Emily,

    Wow I’m really excited, I don’t think I’ve commented on one of your pieces before.

    This was extremely beautifully written.
    I love the way you made effortless transitions by beginning each with “I remember when I was a little girl” to ” I remember when I was a young lady” to “Now I am a woman”.
    You have such a unique and beautiful voice to your writing that puts me in awe and brings a smile to my face.
    I see it when you speak in class and the way you present yourself outside of it. You have so much passion, and I have a lot of admiration for your spirit.
    I think my favourite part of your whole piece was the way you wove it all together and brought it to a beautiful close at the end with the lines:
    “I do not paint, yet I am powerful.
    I do not dance, yet I am elegant.
    I do not make myself small or silent, yet I am your daughter.”
    Those were the moments where the narrator had fully come to the conclusion that she would not allow herself to be held down by the conventions by society; that no matter what she came to be, she would always be what she was: a woman.

    Thank you for this beautiful piece (I swear I’ve said that word like 5 times throughout this comment) and forgive me for the late comment.

    Have a lovely rest of the semester!
    With Love,
    Timi ♥

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