Asian Girl Problem #108: Never the Flower Girl

I was just thinking about tagging this post with “angst” but then embarrassingly realized that would apply to everything on this blog. Have I thanked you lately for indulging my angst? Thank you.

I attended a gorgeous wedding of someone I didn’t know last weekend. The first “white” wedding I’ve been to not including that of my dad’s Jewish coworker back when I was like ten. Because I barely knew anyone there, I didn’t want to take photos–so imagine a couple hundred people at big barn house in the middle of a redwood forest, a glowing young couple from equally glowing families, the ceremony performed by an extremely articulate gay best friend, open bar, religion-lite, Pinterest-heavy.

As the minister showered praise on the couple and announced their undying love until everyone was reaching for tissues, two things occurred to me:

1. I don’t ever want to be the center of attention of a multi-thousand dollar party.

2. Is it rude not to invite one’s own family to one’s wedding?

I’ve decided that if that day came, I would officialize it at town hall with any family that cared to come, and then have a party one year later without them. It would be called just that–a “party” with so many cakes and pies it’d put Marie Antoinette to shame. And people could do speeches about me, the groom, love in general, whatever. Mine will probably be excruciatingly long and about Virginia Woolf’s idea of privacy, but they’d have to endure it.

Am I jealous of the effortless girls who seem to have been born and bred to have Hallmark weddings? Duh. But I’m also fiercely protective of my experiences and perspectives, and hey, if you get that invitation to my “party,” know that it will be awkward and weird, but definitely not typical. As the wedding ceremony progressed, I suddenly discovered a repressed memory that made me feel even more out of place and jealous and small.

When I was eight and my family friends got engaged, my first thought was that I needed to be the flower girl. By the time they asked me officially, I’d been prancing around our apartment in a pink dress and every piece of jewelry I could find for days, practicing the walk and petal-toss. At the same time, some fundamental conflict in me was stirring. The same thing that made me run out of the ballet studio crying on my first day. The same thing that fueled my obsession with being a princess but inability to look in the mirror without making a face.

I was obsessed with my prettier, smaller girl friends and lived vicariously through them whenever possible. On top of everything, the bride for this particular wedding was so beautiful. I was in awe in her presence–when she came to visit, I wanted to sit in her lap gripping her shiny necklace forever. I knew she deserved a better flower girl. Not a flower person who had a short bowl cut and pudgy face.

If only someone told me that there is no such thing as a not cute Asian baby(!) at the time.

A few days before the wedding, I told my parents I couldn’t. They called in for a backup girl, and everyone chalked it up to me being shy as usual. I cried all day. The next year, I was asked to be flower girl by another couple I didn’t know nearly as well. Turning it down, giving up on myself, was de rigueur the second time around. Maybe having a strong female role model would’ve made it easier to feel worthy and pursue the girly experiences I craved. Instead, I fumbled with makeup, buying a bra, dating, and receiving attention (especially from males). But I did continue to love and support and worship other girls who I secretly aspired to be, which in some twisted way, made me a pretty rad girl friend.

I can’t think of any positive takeaway from this memory–it just disappoints me and makes me wonder if that same girl is still at work, pulling me back from every wonderful experience that demands her to enter the spotlight. Specifically, every experience that demands the femininity that she’s always felt lacking. But despite making me feel really sappy and sorry for myself, I hope sharing it will make it less of an angsty personal experience and more of a relatable childhood memory that I’ve moved beyond.


One thought on “Asian Girl Problem #108: Never the Flower Girl

  1. I really liked this story.. Would things have been better if when we were little girls there were feminine role models who did’t look extra girly? Or.. would it have been better if looks were less emphasized in our culture? Gah.

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