The Briar Cliff Review: Candy
Named winner of The Briar Cliff Review’s Nonfiction contest, my essay “Candy” about all things 80’s dance and body shame begins:
“I’d lose myself in Aqua Net. In Exposé’s “Point of No Return,” Stacy Q’s “Two of Hearts.” And God bless Saint Taylor Dayne. In 1989, my .99-cent Wet n Wild lipstick came in two distinct shades: Hot Pink and Orange, neither a great choice for a 12-year-old with olive skin and knobby patches of acne flanking her mouth. The foundation pilfered from my mom’s cabinet framed my face, a thin russet line of pancake circling my chin like a cheap Halloween beard. But more important than the make-up was the hair, the great heights it could achieve with a furious teasing of brush and spray, spray, spray. In New Jersey size mattered, and my bangs jutted out like the wings of a gargantuan bat. Add six or seven pumps of the rancid perfume Exclamation, and I was nearly ready for the 8th-grade dance. Standing in the basement, my feet flat against the cold linoleum tiles, I surveyed my body in the wall of mirrors that once reflected the Jazzercisers my mother taught for $5/hour. Sighing, I reached for my mother’s girdle and stepped into it, wriggling it up and over my thighs until my mid-section was braced tight. Never mind that the fat simply shifted, that great bulbs of skin appeared now at the top of my back, above my ass, my body a mound of dough that had been rolled flat at its center. Never mind that earlier that day my father had poked his head over the shower curtain and pointed at my naked body, laughing, cooing the meanest child’s singsong, so fat, look at you, so fat. A revision of the so big game we’d played when I was a toddler.”
Unavailable online, the issue this essay is in can be found here.