Lily Myers intended her poem “Shrinking Women” to be a personal one.
But a video of her recital at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational was posted to the poetry website Button Poetry and to The Huffington Post, where it went viral.
With more than 3 million views, it continues to circulate across social media websites.
The poem tells the story of women in her family who for generations have been taught to unconsciously shrink while making space for the men in their lives.
“I wrote this poem very much for personal reasons and didn’t ever think it was going to gain this much visibility,” Myers told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “But to be honest, it has opened a lot of dialogues at home that I don’t think would have been open before. And to me that’s the best thing that slam poetry can do.”
The poem gives details of her mother’s relationship with food, the way she has inherited her mother’s eating habits and society’s messages about women and size.