body talk by Sarah Lu

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

what was the first voice in my head
that told me i needed to be fixed?
was it the echo of laughter from
the boys in school,
“your nose is so flat, you look like a pug”
pugs are cute, i say
only to be drowned out by the deep rumble of their prepubescent throats,
and the twitching smirks on their faces.

what was the first time when
i pulled at my skin, the part that wasn’t tight
soft, like pork belly—
no, my belly—
and said to myself that it wasn’t okay?
you’re disgusting
monstrous
fat
ugly
disproportionate
despicable

voices reverberating so clearly in my head.

you’re not perfect, no, you’re not perfect but
you’re so beautiful for an asian girl:
black hair cascading down shoulders
such oriental, almond-shaped eyes
I wanna hook up with an Asian girl for the first time
...
Lol I guess not.

(read 5:36PM)

boom, screech—the feedback is rough
against your ears, your nose, your lips, your skin,
your eyes,
the same eyes that your grandma said you would look prettier with
if you just got the surgery.
it rings throughout the night.

my mother said once,
“you always want something that you can’t have.”
is it possible to reclaim every fiber of
this being?
the tattered skin against my thumbnails,
picked raw in moments of panic,
my uneven and colorless lips,
bursts of pain moving up my right shin like a highway, the roughness
of a body not mine inside
My Body, my limbs in all its extremities—
the swollen twitch of the post-surgery eyelids i so desperately craved
and the aching hardness of the muscle i tried for
but could never have,
it was never mine in the first place, no?

do you want it?
i want to fix it, i say,
not knowing that i never needed to be fixed
in the first place.

Sarah Lu is currently a junior majoring in political science at Columbia College and grew up in Beijing, China. She is passionate about gender justice, Asian American activism, political theory, and pasta—she believes in the uniting power of the universal love for noodles. She is also really glad that she deleted her dating apps recently. Instagram