As a young woman, it feels like I spend most of my time trying to prove myself. Professionally, socially and intellectually. There will always be the snigger at my frequent use of the word “like”, or jabs at my giggly personality.
No-one ever bought it; me being smart. The saddest part is that even I didn’t. I could bore you to tears with tales of being patronized and belittled by authority figures since childhood, but I would be here all day.
It’s a Friday morning. I’m very proud of myself because for the first time in possible six months, I have risen from my slumber in good time before work. I go to the bathroom, set my phone face down on the window sill, and play aloud the American tones of one of my favourite YouTube vloggers.
I look in the mirror, and feel embarrassment at what I see. It suddenly dawns on me how damaged and worn I look. The skin beneath one of my eyes appears to be sun bleached white. The patch beneath the opposite eye is dark and speckled. Blackheads cover my bulbous nose, and my chin and forehead are dotted with bulging acne. One set of eyelashes are also bleached almost entirely white.
Horrified, it dawns on me that I have been showing up at work looking exactly like this for the past nine months. Waking up with ten minutes to go, throwing on some jeans and runners, and giving a quick brush to my yellow and crooked teeth.
What must people think of me?! And how do I change? I can diet. Try and rid my excess fat to be taken more seriously. But, wait. Maybe then I’ll be just a girl. I cringe at the mere thought. Imagine that… being just a girl! Ditsy, devoid of any personality traits, there merely to be eye candy when the intelligent men get bored from all of their intelligent men things. I shudder at the thought.
I have to pick one… be physically ugly but be quirky and intelligent… or be physically attractive but be boring and superficial. Since I have always fallen into the former by default, I can’t imagine suddenly trying to change to the latter.
Still though, I think, as I stare desperately at the worn and plain woman staring back at me in the mirror, I can’t go on like this.
As my brain tries to think of a solution to this tough call, my hands take action. I grab a tube of beige goo from the window sill, unscrew the cap, and smear it all over my face. Next is sneezy powder, before black paint is applied to my eyelids and lashes. I draw on some new lips with a red crayon. Now, at least I’m slightly more presentable.
I’ve some time to kill before work this morning. For the first time in forever I try to wear something different. Something that takes the attention away from my round belly and thundering thighs. Leggings? A long top?
Work feels different today. I am a walking doll! Maybe this paint and goo works to be taken more seriously, after all. I’m even referred to as a doll. All day, in fact. “All dolled up” was the term used, I believe. Doors are held open for me, and remarks are made about a fictitious “hot date” I will be attending later on tonight.
“Fair play to you!” one smiles. Should I feel proud? Should I feel accomplished that I’ve finally done what I was supposed to do, and apply the goo and paint to be a proper girl?
Another greets me with an arm squeeze, which takes me aback. I don’t know this person very well, and personal contact with people I hardly know feels uncomfortable. I feel this, inside, but the crayon lips force a smile nonetheless.
All my life, I have been taught to ridicule and dislike fellow women. I’ve been taught to see them as inferior intellectually, yet as a threat in terms of male attention. Blonde pretty girls are mean and stupid. Don’t be friends with them. They won’t amount to anything, anyway. Probably just be a trophy wife to some businessman. Isn’t it great to use your body to get places?! At least I have some self respect.
Or, do I? Now that I’ve sold myself out to the goo and paint, am I still me? Awkward, loud, opinionated me? She might have smothered, beneath that gunk. I’m too scared to use it again, in case I lose her forever.