A long night of beauty rest. Open your eyes and roll over into the mirror- your prison without shackles. They tell you, "you choose to be there." "You choose to wake up hours early." "You choose to" begin your day thinking about what on you needs to be covered or enhanced. They tell you, "you don't have to" with guileful grins as if they're all in on the joke and laughing behind you but you can't even attempt to prove it because they're covering their ears while painting your mouth with layers of scarlet lipstick. When I was eleven my father asked me "why can't you just put your hair up and walk out the door?" I didn't answer him because I didn't have one then and I still don't other than "that's impossible." What is this impenatrable force that arrests my focus and handcuffs my ambition? Why can't I fly away? Hide away? I am a soldier who's survived unimaginable trauma yet my will is weaker than the mirage of insecurity the patriarchy fabricated from the wool they placed over my eyes when I became conscious of their gaze- before I was barely a teenager. Still I've met women who are just as confident with bubblegum swollen smiles cherry flushed cheeks and wide-eyed mascara winks as they are when they dive head first into the lake. Nature pulls off their masks below the surface and they splash up as the sun cascades down on a mermaidian masterpiece hair whiplash surrounded by dancing diamond drops. I've always wanted to be her and I've always wondered if she's really real or if her lip dripping giggles appear confident on purpose. Another patriarchal inspired performance. She's hard to recreate. Maybe she's not my destiny. Maybe I'm doomed to deal with this chip on my shoulder and mask on my face for who knows how long until I find the key or the sword to end my suffering. Not because I'm not beautiful. I probably am, but I can't tell. I don't know what I look like- I know what I don't feel like. And this lack of satisfaction has stuck with me through the gawky the awk-y all the way to the newfound moxie. For all I know I am that sparkling siren who splashes up shining and crashes their ships but the lingering disappointment won't let me see her in my reflection every morning, any morning, as I rush to disguise myself and besmirch my fingers with liquid beauty in the eye of the inventor of each product and founder of each line and leaders of the industries that make us hate who we see staring back as we turn off our alarms and roll over- back to jail.
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