Her skin was a rich healthy tan, though it seemed to be paler than it really was because of the dark blue jeans, and the royal purple shirt that she wore. Her dark brown hair tumbled over her shoulders in curls, not the bouncy kind you wish to have, but the small, irregular, tangling kind you use a straightener to fix. You would expect her hands to be small and dainty, like those of a supermodel or captain of the cheerleading team, but as small as they were, the nails were all different sizes and lengths, one obviously chewed on often. Pen marks contrasted with her skin, and a smudge of pencil lead on each fingertip marked everything she touched. A layer of foundation makeup attempted to mask the freckles that steal across her nose and cheeks, and a small silver chain hung around her neck. A silver and black leather bracelet resided on her left wrist and a silver ring on her right pinky finger.
I didn’t know who she was, or when and how she had come to be, but I really only had one thought as I looked at the mirror, it wasn’t one’s I’d had many times wishing my nose was smaller, or that my hair was straight. It was something I’d never realized before when scrutinizing every detail of my face. I had always wanted to fit in, modeling my appearance after the girls I saw every day in school, and the thought that I was thinking as I looked at the girl I saw was as follows; this isn’t me. It surprised me, thinking like that, when had I ever thought if this was me before? I yearned to be accepted by my peers and had always wished I was the popular girl, the one everyone knew. But...this isn’t me.
She blinked when I blinked, and cocked her head to one side, trying on the dazzling smile I’d tried so hard to achieve. Her rich tan wasn’t fake, it was earned from playing outside on the weekends when I didn’t live to achieve the standards of the other 9th grade girls. The realization had crept into every aspect of my being and I slowly reached for the washcloth on the counter. It was moist from when I washed my face before applying the makeup, and now I slowly raised it to my face, the girl in the mirror doing the same, and then I touched it to my skin, rubbing in one direction for a moment, and then the other direction the next moment. The fake looking face of hers fell away, revealing someone I thought was lost underneath. I leaned closer, rubbing my forehead, eyes, cheeks, and nose until all that remained of my facade was on the washcloth clutched in my hand. Now the face looking back at me was the face I saw inside myself when no mirrors or cameras were around to remind me of my flaws, of her flaws. It was healthy, the freckles scattered across it looking like an extreme dot to dot page. The blue eyes that looked into mine reminded me of the people I always strived to impersonate, they pulled it off effortlessly it seemed, and now, as I removed the mask of trying to be like them, I achieved something similar.
My face stared back at me, suddenly matched my hands, the pen marks and lead smudges seeming to finally match my personality that had been hiding underneath. With a small smile that matched me even more than the one before, I reached out and unplugged the straightening iron I had been about to use, and instead took my hairbrush and a rubber band, fashioning my hair up into a ponytail. After ensuring my hair was not going to collapse on me, I took my baseball cap and put it on, pulling the ponytail out the gap in the back. With one more look in the mirror, I nodded before turning and picking up my sky blue backpack, slinging it over my shoulder. It was time to see what the people at school thought of the new me, no, not new, the real me. The one that had been lost years ago in fifth grade when I started to realize I didn’t like the look they gave me, it was time to see who my real friends were. I nodded to the girl in the mirror before turning off my light and walking out my bedroom door, time for another day of school. Another day as the real, new, me.