Unsettling Femininity: An Imitation of Mullen’s Prose Poem

For this imitation, I wanted to capture Mullen’s ability to contrast a simple image with an unsettling or controversial topic, especially in regard to female sexuality and the effects of commercialism. In one of her poems from Trimmings, which begins “Becoming, for a song,” Mullen describes the common fashion of wearing a belt. She uses this imagery to hint at a sense of confinement, a torturous attempt by women to make themselves seem skinnier. The girl in her poem is confined by this belt, which “Snakes around her, wrapping.” The poem displays the female obsession with weight and body image, as well as the commercialism of femininity and the stereotypes enforced on women to contain themselves or hide behind beauty products so as to be more appealing in a predominantly male society. In my imitation, I attempt to harness that unsettling tension through an image of a woman who curls her hair with products. This is complicated by a sense of lost identity, entrapment in the stereotype of female beauty, and the pressures of patriarchal expectations for a woman’s sexuality and self-expression. The subject is trapped by the curls and the constraints of society, as well as the practice of creating women as sexual objects and domestic idols. Well, here is my imitation:

Lovely, twisted into knots. Curls create a frame for flaming cheeks. Wrap around rings, clinging. Condition her, rinse, repeat. Frizz control is crucial. Tousled tresses propose a tangle. Locks tight. She is crimped. Kinky, tassels teased to please. A permanence of imperfection.


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