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Aren’t I Pretty


Sharmaine Ong

Sun Li says,

Sharmaine, you’d be

much more pretty

if you tried using

skin whitening


but what she means is,

Sharmaine, you would be

much more pretty if you

ripped every piece of brown

girl from your smile,

if you had a different mother,

if you weren’t born on island,

with palm trees, white sand,

beneath Chumurro sun


Sharmaine, you would be

a China doll.

a body, a piece of exotic

art men would love to hold

men would grovel for


she said, Men love Asian girls

especially ones with faces

pale like full moon

lips red like cheongsom silks



you would be the girl

men would go to war for


but what she means is,

i’m not the kind of girl men

would go to war for


Sun Li gives me a bundle of face masks

tells me to cover my blemishes,

hide behind orange peel, lactic acid

mulberry and words I cannot read

words I cannot fathom





Sun Li says Not all girls

can be naturally pretty

not all can have the curves of an S

knees that fold like origami swan


Sun Li says Sharmaine

you will never be beautiful


You will never be enough


You have to nip & tuck


paint your nails


trim your split ends









there is a girl

in the mirror-



Sun Li whispers

into her ear


until there’s no



to call

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Issue 20


September 22, 2017

As of May 2016, Sharmaine Ong graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn Campus. She has interned for The Blue Mesa Review Literary Magazine and has written articles for College Candy, Spoon University, picVpic, and CAPS UNM. In October 2016 her creative flash essay, “Americana,” was published by the Hippocampus Literary Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @Asian.Girl.Dreaming

i dont feel like fininishing this website right now and i am sorry

And what makes you think

I'm a woman? Wow, I feel

so much better now.

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Issue 20

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