Self-as-Character Assignment: Eight Examples

Five Feet Mighty

Joomi Park

My body is a five feet piece of double sided tape, drifting through Georgia and New York while memories, feelings, and lessons stick to me, capture who I am today.

Start from the bottom with two feet ten inches. My feet are a size six in women’s, a size four in men’s, and my toenails are never perfectly shaped because clipping them is a wild adventure, especially when I can’t see my toes very well without my glasses on. Yet my feet have confidence etched into them after experiencing the conservative streets of Georgia in five-inch platforms. My ankles are, to put it nicely, utterly fucked up. After a few sprains and a stretched ligament, I can no longer run without a brace on or walk a mile without them snap, crackle, popping. My legs are short and chubby, and due to the fact that I have yet to get over my fear of razors, they’re also a little stubbly. However, these are the same hairy legs that shook as I made my way to the podium to welcome and introduce everyone during graduation. Unfortunately, my vagina isn’t as interesting as Phillip Lopate’s penis, but at least I know I’m not as egotistical as he is. My buttocks are not in the nice shape that one would expect from a young eighteen year old girl; I suppose I’ve simply yet to pick up on the idea of working out for fun. Thankfully these buttocks have cushioned me on countless public education chairs and communal toilets and that, I’d say, tops off two feet ten inches of bravery and strength.

Move up one foot and four inches; stop at my shoulders. At the center one will find the flab that is my stomach—a side effect from my addiction to bread and cheese. This stomach once consumed only 140 calories, or one granola bar, which had me bed ridden because my body refused anything I tried to put in my mouth the next day. It was an incredibly valuable lesson for me. My breasts are the embodiment of myself in one word: small. But I’ve come to accept it and manage to still feel damn good in Aerie bras. My hands are my favorite, and it’s almost obligatory for me to have on nail polish, just to adorn my fingers. I’ve played violin, guitar, and the ukulele, flicked off those who weren’t worth wasting my breath over, and held the sweaty palms of close friends on our first rollercoaster rides. My back remains a land unknown, but it’s received enough congratulatory pats to know appreciation. That’s one foot and four inches of self love and love from others. That’s four feet two inches of me.

The remaining ten inches come from my head. My teeth are crooked, I wear lipstick religiously, and I’m pretty sure my tongue is too big for my mouth. With it, saying “y’all” is my guilty pleasure. Of course, cursing up a storm, singing some tunes, and giggling at hands getting cut off make me pretty happy, too. I have two moles above my upper lip that remind me of Pikachu because they’re so symmetrically placed. My nose has my father’s slight bump and it’s also smelled the most awful stenches when my class visited a wastewater treatment plant and we were graced by the presence of other people’s feces. My eyes always have on double eyelid tape and they are completely mismatched: one has perfect vision and the other can barely see across the room. Through them I’ve seen my father hunched over English workbooks and I’ve witnessed movie scenes of characters’ eyes being ripped out. My ears are pierced and they’ve heard so much music that if I were a body part, I would be an ear just to channel lovely sounds into my body. My hair has been intoxicated with straightening chemicals because I have naturally curly hair, to the point where I had an Asian afro going on when I was younger. Ever since I got to FIT, I’ve wanted to cut it short and dye it dark blue. My head is a mystery even to me, and all I know is that my thoughts are incredibly odd. I think about death, I think about love, I think about my future. In all honesty that’s ten inches of twisted.

But in one piece, I am five feet. And five feet may not be tall or grand but I know that I am comprised of many parts that make me whole. At this point in life it seems impossible to go through much more, but I’m still that double sided piece of tape—a bit tattered, a bit small, but sticking with a whole lot of might.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would somebody want to read this piece (the “Who cares?” factor)?
  • Can you clearly identify the author’s intention for the piece?
  • How well does the author support the intention of the piece? Cite specific details that support or take away from the author’s intention.
  • Is there information missing from this piece that would make its intention clearer? What else would you like to know?
  • Does the author portray herself as a round character? How does she do this?
  • Do you trust the author of this piece? Why or why not?
  • How clearly does the author establish a sense of setting/space in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • How clearly does the author establish characters other than the self in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • Did you learn anything new from reading this piece? If so, what?
  • Are there particular passages with engaging language/description that stood out to you? Describe the appeal of these passages.
  • Would you read more writing from this author? Why or why not?

 

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Five Feet Mighty by Joomi Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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