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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, I’m Not the Fairest One of All

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When it’s pouring outside, I find that the atmosphere surprisingly placid. The rain softly patting against the ceiling; it’s hypnotizing. The rain muted the usually rambunctious locker room that day, leaving us to remove our extensive accessories and change into our grey T-shirts. The rain was our only reminder that we were not deaf.


After the eerie change, I was in the mirror; trying to tame my hair enough to be arranged into a ponytail while my friend used concealer to hide the miniscule bags under her eyes, as we routinely do. But on this rainy day, two other girls were analyzing the mirror as well, without saying a word. The four of us stood in this pose for a good two minutes before one of the girls, still staring at the mirror, candidly spoke. “My knees are disgusting. My right one is dark and ashy and that one just looks weird.” Her friend agreed, her eyes still plastered to her own reflection, describing the awkward lines on her knees. Then, they simply walked off to gym class as my friend put her concealer away, leaving me to surrender the ponytail battle, put it into a messy bun, and run out to the gym for our warm-up laps.


It was while I was running, trying to fool myself into believing that I enjoyed the exercise, that I slowly became appalled with the event that had previously occurred in the locker room. Four girls spent over two minutes in front of a mirror, hunting down every imperfection on their bodies, so preoccupied that they didn’t even bother to look at their friends as they voiced their frustration.


This made me wonder, why do we care? One of our male classmates spent half of the class with mud on his face, purely for the enjoyment of others. I bet that he wasn’t worried about it seeping into his pours or drying out his skin. I bet his friends didn’t spend two minutes worth of silence just staring into a mirror. Why, they don’t even notice when their shirt is on backwards!


So why do we do it? Why do we care about the lines on our knees or how dark the skin is under our eyes? Do we do it for guys? If so, why do we assume they’ll notice the size of our pours when they don’t even notice the tag on their chest?! Or do we do it for ourselves? Do we feel better reminding ourselves that were not perfect and will never look like the Barbie dolls we played with in elementary school? Is this why men were considered more professional than women for centuries? Because we care about how dark our knees are and become centered on it while they become centered on their work? Why is this considered the norm?


By the time I thought of that last question, I had already jogged my laps. And my friend was complaining about her spilt ends.





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