INK By Roya Backlund


In 2007, they called Britney Spears “bald and broken”
after she went to a salon in Tarzana
and buzzed off all her hair. Her smile was so big
that tears dripped into her mouth.

She said “I don’t want anyone touching me.
I’m tired of everybody touching me.”

They collected her locks from the floor
set them up on on e-Bay. The bidding for her remains
reached over a million dollars.

They can keep their souvenirs of a woman breaking
beneath the pressure of so many hands
but she was never broken. A women will never be
broken. She will only be renewed
once again.


I once knew a girl in Hermosa Beach
whose father told her all women
with piercings and tattoos are sluts.

She punctured diamonds and hoops through her cheeks
until her face was a chandelier,
dragged so many needles across her skin,
her body became a manifesto
written in ink,

invented an identity
he had nothing to do with,

embodied everything her father hated
until it no longer had any power
over her.


I read the news today, about a young Kurdish girl
living in the Middle East.

The soldiers invading her village would capture her
in the middle of the night, pass her body around the circle
like a bottle of whiskey to be shared. They crushed her
like little boys crush snails on the playground, never taught
that there are some things too evil
to ever do.

She doused herself in kerosene and went to bed one night
blanketed in a flame. She needed to be ugly enough
for them to finally let her sleep,
would rather have no skin at all
than skin that did not belong
to her.


They say each of our bodies is a temple
and we must treat it well

but there are too many men
forcing us to believe in them as gods,
telling us how to say our prayers,
trying to fill every room within it
until there is no more sanctuary left
for ourselves.

If that’s true,
it makes sense
why so many women have to destroy their bodies
to protect it.

By Roya Backlund


Roya Backlund is a recent graduate of University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in English literature as well as a Los Angeles-based film actress. She has been published at Thistle Magazine, Words Dance Publishing, and will be releasing her first collection of poetry this summer. She is a co-founder of Kings Zine, a literary and artistic collective. More of her writing can be found at

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