Bodies No. 3

I hate my skin. It isn’t fair and clear, with peach-tinted cheeks, like the girls in Chinese movies. Nor does it glow with the promise of summer like the caramelised beach babes on the covers of Dolly magazine. Large pores, inherited from my mother, speckle the space around my nose. I hate my hair, which sits against my scalp as flat and black as an oil slick. I spend hundreds of dollars to volumise it, texturise it, bleach it. I hide my broad forehead behind a sweep of fringe. And my bridgeless, button-shaped nose–a stunted runty cousin to the proud pinnacles of my peers–it can’t even prop a pair of glasses up. I hate the way my face prompts others to question my foreign, other heritage.

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I love my olive skin. I love the way it deepens to brown at the merest touch of sunlight. Its subtle green undertones remind me of the cool colours of forest undergrowth, or a beach in winter. I love my eyes, which are almond-shaped and shallow with folded lids like my father’s. I like the shiny blackness of my hair. I like my cheekbones, which are high and wide like my mother’s. I cherish the unexpected angles of my face: the strength of the cheeks and the jaw, the wide forehead, the soft chin. I like that it holds both sharpness and softness, both inquisitiveness and openness. I like the way my face carries pieces of my ancestors, and invites others to wonder where I am from.

Bodies No.1

The new girl was plump, gloriously plump, in a way that made Angie, who had always craved thinness, want to be just as full and shapely. The new girl had apple-round cheeks that tapered to a dainty chin. Her nails were painted gold and sat like gems embedded in her fleshy fingers. She had the sort of fingers that you liked to watch kneading dough, or braiding hair, or handling jewellery.

She neither flaunted nor hid her body. Her jeans followed the expanses of her buttocks and hips and fell cleanly to her ankles. Her fitted black top hugged the swells of her breasts and tummy. She wore the sleeves pushed up to her elbows, revealing chubby, smooth forearms and a bracelet from which dangled the letter J.

Angie watched as the new girl lifted her chin and laughed. The small of her lower back made a letter C, rising into the softness of shoulders, the softness of chestnut curls. Angie felt the corners of her own mouth tugging into a smile.