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The Beauty Test: What the Media Can't Be Blamed For
It's 90 degrees out, and I'm hot.
No, not just the mundane I'm-overheating kind of hot, where your pores expel gallons of horrible smelling liquid and your face turns an unpleasant red and the heat seems to leach all the energy outof your body.
I'm hot as in, yeah, I know you wanna take another look at me. My shorts are colorful and about four inches long, revealing swathes of golden colored skin stretched over the tight framwork of my legs. My top is tight enough that there's no denying the nonexistance of my waist. And my hair is swept back in a perfect ponytail, altered here and there to bring out my stunning green eyes, my freckles, my smile.
Oh yeah, I'm rocking this body. I'm rocking this heat. And you know I'm untouchable by the gorgeous, adoring boy I'm so engrossed in.
We're in line at an amusement park, we have been for a little while. That's okay with me, though; there's plenty of time to show off. And I'm not just talking about the boys, either.
I catch the look of a girl a few people down. It's one of those quick, I-wasn't-looking glances that can yield a thousand messages, if you know where to find them.
I do, and I return the look in full force. Her waist is fantastic, too, but undeniably thicker than mine. She's wearing a graphic t-shirt that doesn't look nearly so well as my clingy tank top. And all she has as an escort is another girl, a mousy looking teen who is currently staring off into the distance with a bored expression on her face. The girl takes a darting glance back at me, colors slightly, and strikes up a conversation with her friend.
I turn away, the ghost of a smile on my lips. The sweet satisfaction of superiority! How wonderfully my efforts are rewarded!
We move up about five more feet, and I am rewarded with a view of vaguely familiar faces; people I've passed maybe a dozen times so far but haven't taken the trouble to take notice of. There's something that catches my eye this time, however, and I look closer.
She's maybe a year older than me. And oh, man, has that year been good to her. Although she isn't the wisp I am, her skin is a deep bronze, her hair a peppy blonde that's a perfect rendition of normal flaxen, and the swells on her chest just can't be ignored. I give a tiny frown when I see the male leanng against a gate next to her, their bodies touching. Her eyes are fastened on me.
Well, then. I'll teach her to be so bold. I twist around to my boyfriend, who until now had been constantly checking his phone for new texts. I snuggle in closer, and he slips his arm around my waist, just the way I wanted. I press my body closer and lean over to give him a peck on the lips. Then I lay my head on his shoulder.
Looking back at the girl, I can see she's still looking at me. I allow a tiny bit of satisfaction to show on my face. My boyfriend and I, we've been going out for eight months. We've known each other for nine. There's no denying the comfortableness of our relationship. Or the slimness of my waist.
The girl turns away, and for a smug second I think I've won. Then she grips the bottom of her tank top, and I watch in horror as she slowl, deliberately, pulls it off.
It's not as bad as you think. The park features water rides, and as such, she's wearing a prettily patterned bikini top underneath.
But to me, it's defeat. Her boyfriend turns in interest to her swimwear-clad breasts, and I hear her say something about it being so hot that she couldn't stand it anymore. She probably could've said anything to him. He certainly wasn'tasking questions.
I glare angrily into my boyfriend's shirt. I, too, have a bikini top on underneath my tank, but there's no way I could pull off what she did. She's at least two cups bigger than me. I've lost. I pretend to look somewhere else, disinterested in the world at large, but inside I'm fuming. To be beaten by something as uncontrollable as breasts! All the mascara and situps in the world weren't going to fix that.
"...this latest survey shows a 5% rise in teenage girl body dissatisfaction over a similar survey taken just last year. Angry citizens, both teens and parents alike, are calling for some sort of restriction to be put on the media. What's normal, they protest, is not what is being shown on television and in magazines."
I look at the television, the memory burning in my vision.
It's notthe media, I want to say. At lest, it's not just the media. We, the girls, are the ones putting the biggest pressure on our gender to be more desireable. It shows in the silent standoffs, the secret glances, the world of communication foreign to males. It's there every time I spend all of my savings at the mall on cute jeans and purses that match my shoes. In my getting up a half an hour earlier before school so that my hair is a shining curtain of straight beauty.
It's a potentially vicious cycle, yes, but how are we ever going to stop wanting to look good? Or more pressing: how are we going to want to stop looking better?