Olivia Vella presented the poem to her class as her final assignment in her writing class at Queen Creek Middle School.

A Queen Creek seventh-grade girl’s powerful slam poem about the struggles of adolescence and her final inspiring message has spread quickly through social media, receiving millions of views in recent days.

Olivia Vella presented the poem to her class as her final assignment in her writing class at Queen Creek Middle School.

The school initially posted the video of Vella’s performance on its Facebook page May 23. 

‘A little bit pretty’

Vella’s poem talks about the pressures young teens, particularly girls, face to fit in.

Vella lists 12 steps to completing a day in her life, starting with showering and ending with washing off her makeup — after which, she responds that “I can’t even look at myself.” 

But for Vella and other young girls, there’s a lot of activity in between.

Vella’s second step is to “pick out an outfit that will fit in with the latest trends and won’t make you the laughingstock of the school, more than you already are.” 

She then talks about putting on makeup in an effort to be “a little bit pretty.” 

“You can’t even recognize yourself and your face tingles with an unbelievable itch you can’t satisfy, otherwise you will ruin the meticulous painting you applied to your hideous face,” Vella says in the poem. 

She then talks about the pressure to style her hair in “elegant curls” that hide her hair’s natural frizziness and wearing uncomfortable Converse shoes that everyone else is wearing because she “cannot be the odd one out.” 

“As you gaze into the bathroom mirror, you see a stranger that somehow stole your reflection and replaced it with a completely different girl,” Vella says. 

Vella talks about seeing the other girls in school, wishing she were them and doing whatever it takes to fit in.

“You are actually holding back a few tears, but you feel like you’re holding back a tsunami of emotion you can’t let anyone else know that you feel, otherwise they will never respect you the same way they used to,” Vella says. “Or did they ever?”

Vella then talks about arriving at school, getting off the bus and desperately searching for people to walk to class with for fear of being gawked at for walking alone. 

She finally settles on hanging out with a group of people she doesn’t care much for because of their crude humor and the way they make fun of her, but settles with them because they’re popular.

“You know you shouldn’t hang out with them, but hey, they are the popular kids and you just want people to like you like they like them.”

Vella talks about not being able to stand up for herself after hearing rude comments and put-downs because they’re popular and “apparently whatever they say and do goes.” 

She talks about trying to shake each comment, criticism and opinion of her but feeling her self-esteem sink further and further with each one. 

“You look at all the other girls, your mind racing a mile a minute,” Vella says. “I wish I had her eyes, I wish I had her hair, I wish I was as skinny as her, I wish I had her perfectly straight, white teeth. I wish I had her social confidence. I wish as many boys liked me as they liked her. Why am I not good enough?”

Believing in yourself

At last, Vella says there’s some relief from the social pressures of adolescence with schoolwork, which she calls “the only part of your life that seems solvable.” 

Vella describes the “radiant smiles on your teachers’ faces” as they applaud a job well done, reveling in the “joyful praises, the gentle rain that brings forth a magnificent rainbow, the radiant sunshine that brings forth fields of sweet daisies.”

But that relief doesn’t last long, Vella says, because peers start dubbing you a nerd, a geek or a teacher’s pet when they know you get good grades.

“Your peers’ jealousy is the pollution that prevents a rainbow, the bulldozer that plows through the fields of once-golden daisies, the intangible object that crushes our happiness like a bug,” Vella says.

“A’s are getting you nothing but torment. Why am I not good enough?”

At the end of the day, Vella undresses to ask herself whether she “got fatter” throughout the day and undoes her hair that she describes as looking “like a mop.”

She washes off her makeup, revealing a reflection that she’s not happy with because of society’s unattainable standards. 

“This is my life every day,” Vella says as she nears the end of her poem. “I can’t control it. I’ve been told I can’t compare apples and oranges, I’ve been told I’m distorted, I’ve been told I have to be grateful for who I am.”

But even though people mean well when they try to use those phrases to encourage her, Vella says societal pressure makes them hard to believe. 

That’s why Vella concludes her poem with saying society is wrong, and that using unhealthy escapisms from adolescent pressure only make matters worse. 

“You tell yourself, ‘I just want people to like me, I just want to be accepted,’ ” Vella says. “But skipping meals and marking up your wrist isn’t going to fix that.”

Vella says that while you might be looking at another girl and wishing you were them, she might be looking at you and thinking the same thing. 

She rejects society’s beauty ideals of thin waists and lots of makeup, the standards of “skanky clothes” and “doing inappropriate things with boys” in order to be considered cool by peers.

“You are loved, you are precious, you are beautiful, you are talented, you are capable, you are deserving of respect, you can eat that meal, you are one in seven billion,” Vella says in conclusion.

“And most of all, you are good enough.”


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