Issue Five: Expectations

Asians Between Cultures

My hips have never lied to me, about how present they are. Although I spent a large portion of my childhood in the US I was still Japanese. In Japan, infantilized female bodies are idealized and somehow standardized by men who should be dematerialized. I was already insecure that I was too American, because people told me I was, and this obnoxious behind made me more American by association.

A boy at my weekend Japanese school told me I “shouldn’t show my fat thighs” and I believed him; I exorcised my closet of shorts and skirts. I massaged and stretched my bum out nightly in front of the mirror as if I could mold it away if I worked hard enough. I was ashamed of my junk.

None of my attempts to hide or shrink my buttocks proved to be effective. Because bodies don’t work like that, duh. Neither does the sense of belonging to a culture. The size of my rear wasn’t what was keeping me from owning where I’m from. The self-loathing I developed over my bottom was more demeaning than “not being Japanese enough.”

I know now that I shouldn’t self-loathe. I know that my Rubenesque booty can lift heavy boxes, sit me comfortably on various surfaces, and knock people over. My celebration of my butt is now a celebration of myself that’s not conditional to how much I ascribe to any cultural expectations. So yeah, my butt rules.