Lipstick Under My Mask, Cracks Under My Gloves

– Flash by Shiksha Dheda & Digital Art by Emily DeSmidt – 

*Content Warning: mental illness, menstruation, blood, mention of intrusive thoughts, OCD


Gone With the Thing by Emily Desmidt

I don’t think it is the shaving of the legs that annoys me the most. I love running my fingernails along silk-smooth layers of flesh? Like a flamboyant spider tracing its way back home on the map of my thigh. 

 I don’t think it’s the make-up that irks me. I treat my face like an animated canvas; highlighting my lips delicately – making them seem just slightly fuller (slightly more shapely, more beckoning).

I make my eyes louder – bolder. Adding expression (so much expression), sometimes even when I am genuinely not feeling anything at all. Make-up adds seasoning to my sometimes disinterested conversation escapades. 

What really annoys me though is all the hiding. 

Having to hide the reddish-brownish stains on my bed. 

Having to hide my soiled pants and washed underwear .

Having to hide the hills of bouncy jiggly ampleness on my chest. 

Having to hide the painful grimaces and sighs (very loud yelps) when my body is literally grinding, chewing and 


S    P    I    T    T    I     N     G


itself inside-out. 

Every. Single. Month.

I hate having to hide my darkest thoughts. The ones I kindle with the darkness of my frequent sleeplessness. The ones that would probably disgust (scare) people. The ones that make me wash my hands until they bleed (until I cannot even make a fist anymore). The ones that make me hide my tightrope juggle between insanity and civility behind a glove. Behind a mask. 

So I say with my (un)shapely lips – framed with upper lip hair- no, I am not suited to this mould of feminine decency, of maternal selflessness, of lovelorn pleasantries. 

Leave me my hairy legs. 

Leave me my hellish intrusive thoughts. 

Leave me my crazy ramblings.



Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses poetry (mostly) to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her debut poetry collection Washed Away is out now from Alien Buddha Press. Follow her on Twitter @Shikshawrites.





Emily DeSmidt is a queer from Colorado Springs currently engaged in bringing about the inevitable apocalypse while attending Pikes Peak Community College for an associates in studio art. She despises all things art, though she can’t get enough of it, and futilely hopes to eliminate the corruption of ideas in their translation into the material. Don’t follow her.