Carley Taylor


This poem speaks of Cambodia where skin lightening ingredients such as mercury can be found in an alarming number of beauty products. Beauty standards often make women around the world feel as though we need to strive to be perfect, better, continually comparing ourselves to someone else. This poem emerges from a trip I took to Cambodia, where I noticed the drive for women to achieve pale skin. In this instance, I felt as though Westernized culture was being forced down Cambodian women’s throats—unattainably beautiful and pale models staring you down at every shop and billboard, skin lightening products everywhere, the government’s heavy push to speak English. This poem pushes against the demand for women to achieve that beauty standard and reflects on my thoughts of how the push for white western beauty standards feels to me like a similar attempt to achieve a cultural kind of mask at the expense of the self.

Author Biography

Carley Taylor graduated with a Masters in English from Bridgewater State University. During her time as a student, she attended two study tours (first to Ireland, then Cambodia) where she discovered her love for new experiences and culture. She later organized a trip to Japan and a second trip back to Cambodia, and plans to continue traveling at every opportunity. Her experiences while traveling often inspire her writing, although not exclusively. She published a short story titled, “It Didn’t Matter Why” in The Bridge: A Journal of Fine Arts and Literature in 2018 in honor of her late grandfather and his conflict with PTSD.