‘Dear Diary’: LIMBS

This column combines the intimacy of a diary-like narrative with the writer’s own experiences of things little in life and things big: politics and culture. 

Dear Diary,

I’m thankful for my limbs. I really am. But sometimes — and I’m sorry, I know I should be proud and grateful and introspective on things like this, though I’m sure you’d succumb to the buzzing and sinking and pounding too — when everyone else seems to melt at the sight of delicate paleness that can occasionally exhibit a slightly brown, sun-kissed varnish, I fall.

I fall. My legs are torn from their hinges and tossed into the Bin of Uselessness while my arms float in some river that carries a boat down, down, down, which is the same way I’m going because I have no legs, and I have no arms, and that’s fine — there’s no use for brown limbs in this world, anyway. 

(At least that’s what they told me.)

I don’t remember who said it. It might’ve been God — in the photo in the textbook in my fifth-grade classroom — and his almighty Plan/Production Line that promised we were all loveably made in his image, except his image was always white, so I felt better living with the Times New Roman words around it. 

It also might’ve been the Production Line’s other creations — the ones that turned out right and sold well in the real world, like Annabeth Chase or The Tanned Blonde or A Lighter Version of Me — and their hushed voices that all echoed the same thing: you wish you were me. 

And I did, for a while, because it was difficult to overcome the sinking stomach and buzzing heat of embarrassment that would smother my face whenever I tried to be like them and failed. I stayed out of the sun even though I loved its warmth, pretended to relate to the girls in my books that found True Love in American suburbia even though little white boys at Catholic middle school snickered at the Others like zoo animals, and kneeled at the altar of the Pretty Ladies Of Delicate Paleness (like any famous Filipina actress ever, my American Girl Doll and Rory Gilmore) even though none of the Ladies looked like me because their friend (that exists only for plot development) or “helper” or nemesis already did. I never paid attention to them, though. 

Isn’t that just so stupid? It was really stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid and I can’t believe I tore my own limbs out. I did it to myself. Sure, I heard them whisper about ugly tans and good tans, and I saw them dangle a bar of papaya soap in front of my salivating mouth, and I felt them wanting to pull off my layer of brown paint so they could, like true artists that sold well in this world, slather it onto themselves since their undertone would lighten it out. But I still did it. I still hated my arms and legs and the slew of Things From A World Far Away That We Won’t Learn About Because It Doesn’t Benefit Whiteness that marred my skin. 

So I’m falling now, because you can’t exactly walk without legs. Down, down, down I go, limbless but not lifeless, leaving my sweet, sickly shade of brown on the dirt that lies above. That’s where flowers grow. 

Yours,

Amanda

Originally posted 2023-10-27 06:51:50.


Posted

in

by

Tags: