AUNTIE FUNMI PULLS ON THE measuring tape held tight around my waist. I hold my breath, suck in my stomach a little, because I want the dress to fit, like really fit. But Auntie Funmi is the best seamstress my mom knows, so she taps my arm—smacks, more like—and hisses at me in her strong, Yoruba accent, “Ah-ah! Adanna! So you want to be doing like this at the wedding the whole time?” And she holds her breath and shifts side to side like she can’t walk or bend her knees. “You will just look uncomfortable.”

Chioma snickers from where she’s sitting at the dining table. She has a swath of bright ankara fabric over one knee while she flips through a catalog of old-school dress styles. We lock eyes and she snickers again, none too remorseful for the situation I’m in. Auntie Funmi is pissed she has to redo all these bridesmaids’ dresses only two months before Chioma’s sister’s wedding, and she’s taking it out on me just because I’m the last girl to be fitted. How is it my fault, though? Does she know how difficult it is to be me right now? I’m in my last year of high school—debate team, staying on honor roll, plotting my law school track—I have so many other things I have to do aside from plan what I’m going to wear for Genny’s wedding.

Auntie Funmi wraps the measuring tape around my arm and tightens it, peering down her nose at the small black numbers that overlap. Her eyes flick over to mine. “Are you still losing weight?”

“I wasn’t to begin with…,” I murmur. Auntie moves on quickly. My eyes dart to the book she’s scribbling in where she keeps our measurements. Auntie Funmi has been doing clothes for my family since I was very young, but I don’t think I’ve changed that much from last year. Chioma’s aunt and uncle had a dedication ceremony for their newborn, and the two-piece dress I had made still fits me just fine. Auntie Funmi is just being a busybody.

Chioma flips a large page in the catalog and scrunches up her nose like she’s smelled something bad. Her thick Senegalese twists fall over her shoulder and she has to shimmy and shrug to push them back over. “Auntie,” she calls, “are you sure the style Genny picked for the dresses is in here?”

Auntie doesn’t bother looking up as she runs the tape from my shoulder to my knees. “Yes.”

“But they’re all so tacky,” Chioma whispers. Auntie doesn’t act like she heard her, but I chuckle a little. “She couldn’t find something on Pinterest? Why does she want us to look ugly at her wedding?”

Tch, as if you don’t know your own sister,” I sneer playfully, jutting out my bottom lip in arrogance. Genevieve, Chioma’s older sister, who used to get both Chioma and I to braid, unbraid, and wash her hair while we were growing up because she just got shellac done and do we know how much shellac costs? Genevieve, Chioma’s older sister, who used to crop family members out of pictures where she was the only one who looked good. Genevieve, Chioma’s older sister, who went viral for a hot second as “Jesus girl at Riley’s” last summer and leveraged it to the max.

Where do I even begin with that story? Riley’s is a vegan joint that sells pastas and things in Toronto’s east end. Genny isn’t vegan, but she was going on a date with this guy, I think his name was Jacob. He wasn’t bad looking, but one time he posted a pic of him and Genny on his socials, and she told him to take it down because she knew it wasn’t that serious for her. He was trying to become an influencer or something, so he was always filming things. Jacob gets this bright idea to take Genny to Riley’s even though neither of them are vegan (we later found out it was for a “First Time Trying Vegan Food” video he was working on). Genny gets to the counter and asks what the cheese is made out of, since it couldn’t have been dairy. The lady says “cashews” and Genny gets this blank look on her face like she’s transcended time and space. Her mouth cracks open a smidge and she pouts, unsure, before she narrows her eyes and utters, “Je-sus…” with the most contempt I’ve ever heard. It’s hilarious and you couldn’t go anywhere online for a month without seeing her face.


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Excerpt from TWICE AS PERFECT by Louisa Onome, published by Feiwel and Friends. Copyright © 2022 by Louisa Onome.