January 29, 2010
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She burst through the door and tossed her bag into the front hall, causing enough clatter to draw her younger brother and sister from the kitchen, sandwiches in hand. She bit back an angry warning, knowing they wouldn’t understand most of the words she was ready to use anyway, and instead focussed on undoing the clasps of her sandals through tear-blurred eyes. She stumbled up the stairs, barely able to choke back the sobs until she reached her bedroom, leaving her siblings staring blankly after her, dripping peanut butter all over the shiny linoleum tile.

She flung open her bedroom door, swayed in the doorway a moment, indulging in its familiarity amidst the strangeness: the faded saffron-yellow of the walls, the simple oak furniture, the clothes strewn over the chair, the bed. The easy warmth of the room caressed her skin, smelling faintly of rosemary, soothing her breathing and slowing her heart. Collecting herself, she steadied herself in the doorway, walked slowly into the room, closed the door quietly behind herself. Her eyes glazed over; she closed her mind to her own thoughts, emotions, expressions, and went to stand before the mirror.

It hung a little askew from two yellow strings tied from its hooks to the third-highest slat of the closet door. In it she could see from her head to her knees, a little more if she stepped back just a bit. It had a thin silver frame, ugly, really, though she couldn’t get through a morning without it. And every glance into it stirred up some judgemental, cynical, part if her.

It was this part that she let take over now.

Her hair, for all its expensive colouring and fancy styling, still managed to hang limp and lifeless on her head, lacking the volume necessary for it to actually look good. There were other things she could do with it, but did it matter? The world wasn’t going to wait for the hairdresser to fit her into her schedule.

Her face, then. Her bangs hung too low on her forehead. Her eyebrows were too narrow, her eyelashes were too short, and her eyes’ smoky blue was too pale for her darker skin. Deep, bruise-like shadows under her eyes gave away sleepless nights and anxieties; bland, colourless cheeks emphasized the unattractive roundness of her face; thin lips and braces - wring, all wrong.

Her eyes slid down to her plain pink shirt and, as she stared at her reflection, her fingers came up and began to open the buttons, one by one, revealing more and more until it slipped from her fingers and onto the floor. Stomach not quite flat, ribs sticking out, everything out of proportion. Her finger reached back again and unhooked her bra, threw it onto the ground. Too small, always too small, too flat, the space between her breasts, barely a thumb’s breadth across, too big. She took off her belt, her skirt, her leggings, everything, until she stands naked before the mirror - but is it true? Is she naked? The stereotypes, the judgements, the guidelines and air-bushed magazines - do they not somehow clothe her; hide her nakedness from her own eyes? Can she ever be truly naked?

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