Checking out booty is what I do. In class, at the CoHo, the bars – chances are, if you’ve got a butt, I’ve checked it out. Of course, it’s not all I do, but it is one of my more unconscious, unrelenting habits.
Just the other day though, as I was changing in front of my bedroom mirror, something strange happened: I checked out my own butt.
And I liked it.
It was crazy because I’d never liked my butt. Until recently I had been one of those women who hated their bodies.
While I’d never been overweight in my childhood, puberty did a number on me, and the sudden change sent my family into a tizzy.
At family gatherings, I was encouraged to diet and told that all Asian girls fit one body type – slim. Existing otherwise somehow meant being less Asian and less like my family, whose female members were all petite and willowy.
Faced with such messages, I grew bitter toward my family for not loving me as I was. I became jealous of all the “other” Asian girls who had the perfect Asian body.
Little by little my body became its own entity, my mind a prisoner in its unforgivable, ugly fortress.
Finally, when I was 13, my mother put me on an all-cabbage soup diet. The diet ended on the sixth day when I threw up at the dinner table.
My mother begged me for forgiveness as she wiped my watery vomit off the table. She hadn’t meant to hurt me.
I cried. Not out of the pain or even hunger, but in disappointment. I wanted to be thin and beautiful for my family. I had wanted so badly for it to work.
You are already beautiful; all my daughters are beautiful, my mother said, wiping my pale face with a warm cloth as she sobbed.
After that, my family stopped pushing diets on me. I was left alone.
In order to preserve myself, I pushed my insecurities to the recesses of my mind. I graduated high school, went to college and left my body image behind in search for an overall identity, hoping for something better.
Then a few weeks ago, I discovered Thick Dumpling Skin, a website of essays on disordered eating and the unhealthier pursuits of the “perfect” body within the Asian American community. Before I knew it, I was crying into my morning cup of coffee.
Though I’d never had an eating disorder, reading the essays struck a long buried chord in me.
I began to think of all the days, hours and moments that I had lost to feeling unworthy of life and love all because of my insecurities regarding my body.
The worst part was remembering that I had loved myself less because of those insecurities. My most vivid feelings from adolescence were of my own self-hatred.
Old, unanswered questions flooded my mind. How come our bodies aren’t beautiful simply because they are ours, because they carry our dreams and souls? How is it that their existence isn’t enough?
I became angry and, strangely, justified.
I imagined a faceless audience in front of me as I performed a mental soliloquy:
See this body right here? This is the body that I live in every day. These are the legs that have carried me into success and out of rejection. These arms bring comfort. These stretch marks are medals of honor worth more than any precious metals.
And these titties? Yeah, these are the titties that I flashed at a genderqueer pornstar the other week.
This body belongs to me. It’s beautiful because it’s the one I use to live my life the way I want to.
So, to all of my adolescent insecurities and present-day ugly thoughts – I snap my fingers in a z-formation, whip my hair back and forth and say a big FUCK YOU, I want my time back!
I’m done wasting time trying to be beautiful by other people’s standards.
To anyone who has ever spent even a moment feeling bad about your body, the road to loving yourself is long and difficult, for sure.
But the next time someone calls you fat – fucking eat them. To my skinny readers, next time someone tells you to go eat a sandwich; tell them to go suck a dick.
You’ll be doing yourself and me proud.
Let’s make up for lost time together and rock our booties – flat, athletic, holymotherfuckinshit huge and everything in between. Rock it hard.
I’ll be watching.
KATHERINE TANG NGO likes big butts and she cannot lie. All hawtt pix can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.