In February, we announced the ongoing Little Laos on the Prairie Writing Contest. Our first subject was “New Ideas of Lao American Beauty.” The winner, chosen by our editors, receives a certificate of recognition and a sample package of Snake Bomb Coffee imported from Laos!
We were looking for the best poem, personal essay, short story, creative non-fiction, etc. (750 words or less) that came up with interesting new ideas for Lao Americans to consider beautiful. Whether it’s thinking about the old standards or devising new ones, we wanted to hear about them!
After careful consideration of many entries, our editors selected Bidone Salima’s “Beauty.”
Bidone Salima is a Lao American artist based in San Diego. Her work as a freelance photographer spans four continents and she speaks several languages. She has an AA degree in Administration of Justice, and recently completed taking a playwriting class, and volunteers for several Laotian organizations in SD. Her future goals include pursuing her B.A degree in human services.
Our team recently hand-delivered her Snake Bomb Coffee to her on the day of the Old Globe Theater Community Voices program highlighting the work of 10 emerging Lao American playwrights in San Diego:
Here is her winning entry:
Beauty by Bidone Salima
“Baby, you have a nice singing voice, but your nose could be a little longer,” advised my father.
“I’m able to shave off your vampire tooth,” said the dentist.
“You could get your freckles lasered off,” My co-worker reminded me.
“You have a nice butt. You should get a boob job, your body would be perfect,” my friend volunteered.
“You need to put more makeup,” another friend blurted.
“Have you ever thought of dying your hair a different color?” my sister questioned.
I was comfortable and happy with my body image, but people seemed to see beauty in a different light. Was it the glitz of Hollywood movie stars that influenced how people perceive beauty? What is beauty? I was confused by it. I looked up the definition of beauty in the dictionary. Scientists have their own explanation for beauty. Magazines proudly display photoshopped females on the front page. Ladies go through the extreme to alter their body by any means in the pursuit of what they believed is beautiful. Is beauty the soft blonde hair of an American decent? Is beauty the wide hip of a Latin person? How about the dark eyes of an Arabian, or the luscious African lips? Maybe beauty is a petite Asian with silky hair. Era and culture view beauty differently. Today as I begin to age, the meaning of beauty is no longer a mystery to me. What may seem pleasing to the eyes may not always be pleasing to the soul. When people ask me what is my idea of beautiful, I tell them this:
“I was born short, I was born tall,
My nose is flat, my breasts are small.
My skin a different shade of brown.
My dark hair is silky and coarse.
My unique features make me beautiful.
I was born a Laotian.”
Congratulations again to Bidone Salima, and we will be announcing the next Little Laos on the Prairie Writing Contest soon!
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