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January 15, 2020 Nonfiction


Tammy Delatorre

Pink photo

Pink as you please. Of course, the actual phrase is Pretty as you please, but the two intertwined in my mind over a centerfold, the one with the white-blonde cowgirl, except she’s not wearing any cowgirl clothes, just taupe cowgirl boots and a matching cowgirl hat. Nothing else. Wispy white-blonde hair blows in a breeze probably manufactured for the photo shoot. 

There was a yearning in me for her soft whiteness, which went powdery pink in her most private of places. A pink tongue slides just inside her mouth, and in her other mouth, a deeper shade we’ll call blush. Small pink nipples with perfect pink areolas. Pink and privileged, straddling the side of a well, the tan of the desert behind her opens up to all she claims as hers. A tumbleweed rolls in the foreground. 

White and pink, that’s what I imagined men most desired, and I desired it, too, reaching down to rub the nub of me as I looked at her, wanting her like I know I’m not supposed to objectify any woman, being a woman myself. And mostly wanting to be her – this pretty pink thing. I never was. Pink, that is. Born brown, and sometimes, tanned so easily I was black. Not the race, just the skin color. A black girl running on black lava rocks in Hawai’i, looking for some shade from the sun’s rays, trying in vain to retain a lighter complexion. 

In the mirror of the bathroom back at home, I saw the whites of my eyes and teeth, against which my skin looked dirty, something needing to be washed. And just as I was about to step into the shower, I noticed it there, the can of Comet, the same grainy cleanser we used to scrub the toilet and the tub. With the contents of that can, brown splatters of shit and black mold in the tile crevices could easily be rinsed away. The can was left on the lip of the tub along with a scouring pad. And I thought, just try a little on my forearm. I sprinkled the white flakes with its tinge of minty green on my black, black skin. It looked as harmless as baby powder, except it burned in the spot where I sprinkled and scoured, yet couldn’t get clean. 

image: Aaron Burch