Stiff Upper Lipstick 

Hey Readers  In this post I share a poem on the topic of mental health from highly personal perspective which is that of identity  in particular relating to gender. As  a trans woman, I do not believe nor have I ever done that my gender identity is a mental health issue, but I do believe  where an identity is repressed it can trigger this type of issue and I will openly admit that coming out and living as my real self probably saved me from not only an episode but from a complete meltdown. It is with this in mind I have written this poem on pressure to conform to what society sees as the acceptable cultural, social, and political norms and why sometimes you have to defy them to be truly happy and live the best life you can. I’ve have given the poem Stiff Upper Lipstick as challenges the dangerous and potentially damaging myth that people in the UK are not allowed to show emotion and must remain controlled at all times. I hope you enjoy the read 
Stiff Upper Lipstick 

you must keep a lid on emotions

it’s for the best 

you understand 

you were raised in the British school of thought 

Scottish identity suppressed 

deemed unworthy of recognition 

by those and such as those

who fantasise that a united kingdom 

can be anything other than a fairytale 

these people ignore reality 

any discussion of sexuality 

would be bound to make them blush 

god help them with gender identity 

to them  it wouldn’t matter

if you knew from an early age 

your body didn’t match your  brain

preferring pink to blue

tights to socks

and skirts to shirts and ties

a conservative society tried to downsize your dreams 

as parents, teachers, and youth leaders 

focused on  reinforcing the dominant cultural theme 

boys were boys and girls were girls 

you couldn’t be somewhere in between 

let alone change sides

someone born a boy 

couldn’t dream of a big white wedding

let alone being a bride 

this was something you had to hide 

and you couldn’t complain 

you had to  wear stiff upper lipstick 

whilst reading secret copies of girl’s magazines 

you kept hidden under your  bed 

and only you knew why your face went red 

when you saw that boy you liked 

and had to keep the door to your heart closed 

even if you wanted to open it 

and show the world 

the girl you knew was real 

feelings ignored but never quite crushed 

you blushed as you went in to your room 

dressed yourself in your mum’s old clothes 

and wore stiff upper lipstick 

as your heart cried tears 

and you longed for a kiss from a prince.

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

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