there’s an old poem every Chinese kid was made to memorize in school; it goes, every grain of rice is obtained with hardship; eat well the food God gave you. the other Chinese girls are size twos and zeros and wear brandy melville; i wonder if they listened.
I never wear low-waisted shorts because the sides of my stomach protrude like a swollen lip; aren’t those pants too tight for you, he says; eyes squinted like a hunter eyeing its prey; he almost steps forward. I almost step back.
I learned to look at my body the way my sister looked at her salad before pushing it to the side of her plate. my body was not my home, not the chafing of thighs or the way my chin sank into my neck when I smiled; if I could pinch off my skin like wet sand maybe I could mold myself into the swimsuit I bought two months ago.
you look just like your mother; words I never wanted to hear; he laughed at her and she began eating cabbage soup for breakfast and lunch and dinner, put three bowls of rice on the table instead of four. she doesn’t say grace anymore.
I cried at dinnertime and hid my tears in the broth of la mian; my grandmother slid a spoon across the table and it sputtered to a stop in front of me. dark except for the swinging lightbulb casting shadows in circles around the small wooden table.
nothing in our house goes into the trash before it goes into a plastic container for tomorrow’s lunch.
too much rice travels to your hips and your thighs; fried food makes your skin dry like parchment; no snacks no juice no fat remember press downwards on your uvula; whatever happened to li li jie xin ku?
I lost six pounds and the scale became my altar.
are those your sister’s shorts, he says, why does your ass stick out like that; i think, why are you looking at my ass why are you looking at my ass why are you looking at my ass why are you looking at my ass why are you looking
if our bodies are temples why are they defiled by men who think they are gods.
Lauren is a Singaporean writer currently residing in Bethesda, MD. She attended the University of Iowa International Program’s Between the Lines workshop, and is an editor for the MoCo Student newspaper. She can be found most often in the auditorium lighting booth, where she serves as Whitman Drama’s lighting director.