~Thursday, December 07, 2006


She woke up from her nap cradled between the arms of her brown leather reading chair. She hadn't meant to fall asleep-- she was worried it would mess up her hair which had already been perfectly curled-- but the pacific combination of the afternoon sun and the French film on TV quarreled with her.

She yawned and swung her legs off the arm of the chair and padded her way to the coat closet where her party dress hung on the doorknob. The sun which had previously lulled her to sleep had already put itself to bed. Nothing about the day was warm anymore as she shivered and dropped her jeans in the hallway and stepped out of them. Living alone afforded her such luxuries. She bent forward and tugged her hoodie off, spending a moment to examine her toenails and deciding they needed one more coat if time alloted.

In front of her coat closet, she tied the long black ribbon-- the only thing that held up her party dress-- at the nape of her neck. She raised a hand to her head and mussed up a few curls as she walked to her closet and awoke her party stilletos from their box.

Crossing back into the living room to the guilty culprit, her brown leather armchair, she paused as she caught herself in the mirror's reflection. Out of the corner of her eye, she didn't recognize herself. Now facing the mirror, she still had difficulty with the image before her. The image was beautiful.

She wasn't used to beautiful. She was used to "cute." She was used to "average, but with a great personality." But the image in the mirror wouldn't allow for such words. The hair was perfect, the dress was perfect, the complexion, thankfully, was perfect. For the first time in her life, she thought of herself as beautiful.

"Right now, in this moment, this is the best I have ever looked in my life," she said to herself.

At the party, everyone confirmed her suspicions. Her very gay boss grabbed her, pronounced her belle of the ball, and twirled her-- a favorite activity she usually reserved for behind closed blinds. Men looked her her differently, as if they were hungry. That is what desire must look like, she thought. Desire looks like hunger.

Armed with confidence and heady from spirits, she left and made her way to where old money lives and new money parties. Inside her favorite bar, she was flanked with winks and drink offers. She accepted the winks and turned down the drinks. Never in her life had she been approached by so many attractive men during such a short time span. One man in particular was kind and introduced her around to his circle of friends.

It was the exact moment her confidence waned. The other girls took her hand and smiled, but she didn't match their appearance. She wasn't tan, her hair wasn't platinum, and her skirt covered the entirety of her ass in addition to most of her thighs. But she suspected one wouldn't use the word thighs around the other girls, they solely had legs.

She excused herself from the group. He reached out and extended his hand to her and she took it and squeezed it until the space between them refilled with new people as she made her way through the crowds to the restroom. Instead of using the bathroom, she shook the last few ices cubes in her highball glass and drank the rest of the fiery liquid while staring at herself in the wall-length mirror. She shook the cubes again and set the glass down on the marble counter.

"You're ugly," she spoke harshly.

And she was awake.


M said...

yep, being a girl is fuuuuuun :/

Indiana said...

If that is fun I am glad I was born a guy...perceptions of beauty as portrayed in our dreams are not the same as those seen from the eyes of others.

Sarah said...

M- I wish the world could see me like I do when I'm in my apartment. I blame the lack of external factors.

Indiana- So do you think others are more or less forgiving?

Anonymous said...


A rather telling story about how you feel about yourself, I think.

You know... it's okay to give yourself permission to feel beautiful; regardless of what everyone else thinks. Fuck em. Since when is there only one standard or one norm for what is beautiful?

It just kind of seems like you're fighting a war within yourself - what your new confidence is telling you i.e I'M BEAUTIFUL and the past that you are trying to hang onto i.e. "You're cute but with a great personality." or "I'm ugly."

You know what I'm learning? Those old habits that die so hard? They are usually the ones that need to be cut - quick and clean. Don't drag it out. Embrace your newfound confidence and be secure in the fact that you ARE a beautiful woman. And no matter how society's standards change - today it's platinum hair and micro skirts - tomorrow it's brunettes and flowing slacks.

Make up your mind to stay feeling beautiful whether it's a dream or reality. You know you want to! :)

Walter said...

Your dream is telling you a couple of things. The first is, you're beautiful because you accept the evidence before you in the clear mirror that stands in your living room.

The second point is, you'll never measure up to any standard if you compare yourself to anyone, or more precisely, imagine seeing yourself thru someone else's eyes. Doing the latter is like looking at your reflection in a funhouse mirror. It's a twisted and distorted image you can never trust.

Trust the mirror in your living room. It doesn't lie.

Sarah said...

RMP- a telling story= my Saturday night. Writing in third person sometimes helps me get out emotions that are too difficult to articulate.

You're right- it is a war against myself; I am my own worst critic. I am my biggest adversary. I'm told semi-regularly that I am a pretty girl, but sometimes I just don't believe them.

Meh, we all have our struggles.

Walter- It was more of a subconscious awakening versus a conscious awakening. I mean who declares themselves both beautiful and atrocious in the same night?

I love my living room mirror :)

Walter said...

"I mean who declares themselves both beautiful and atrocious in the same night?"

Umm, like the majority of the populace who are lacking true self confidence.

socal sweetie said...

Aww I can relate to your post. I guess that no matter how beautiful we are, there will always be someone more attractive, and that's just how it is. I guess we just have to learn to accept it when we feel beautiful and keep going with that notion. Confidence = beauty in a way.

kate said...

the beginning part of that when she felt beautiful for the first time, was how i felt the day of my brother's wedding. i could totally relate to this post.

Sarah said...

Walter- If they were truly lacking self-confidence, I don't think they would declare themselves beautiful to begin with.

jmhender8- Every guy I know says that confidence carries the rest of the way when beauty cannot. That a girl can only look so-so, but if she's confident, she will look gorgeous.

Yeah, I need to learn that.

kate- I was hoping someone else could relate, that way I wouldn't feel like such a freak show. :)

Phil said...

That's some beautiful writing on a painful topic.

general_boy said...

Sarah... this post really impressses me. You have managed to convey something very personal and significant, and frozen a moment in your life where the height of confidence and depths of vulnerability collide. Great writing. :)

Lil Bit said...

Love your writing style here, Sarah!

Y'know... we're all our worst enemies. Happens to the best of us, and yes, even the beautiful ones, like you. ;)

ps. I have a surprise for you, waiting on my blog.
Grab your party dress 'n heels & stroll on over! ;)

*big hugs*

Sarah said...

Phil- Thanks!

General Boy- Wow. Thanks. You actually got it. That means so much, thank you.

Lil Bit- hehe, thank you! I'm so excited about it!

allbilly said...

i agree that this is very, very good writing. I was hanging on every word. I really didn't like the end though. shallowness and consumerism are both horrible things and having been highly judgmental earlier in life a giant series of kicks to my nut sack has helped me realize that the wrapper isn't the key to the beauty of the package.

Sarah said...

I didn't like the ending either, allbilly, if that counts for anything...

pinkjellybaby said...

how did i miss this, it's beautifully written.
i hate social situations, i hate that my friends are all skinny. i feel ok sometimes when i go out, i feel like i look good but then i'm around other people and i realise i'm just insignificant.

Sarah said...

That's exactly how I feel. You sum it up pretty nicely.


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