This is for the girl staring back at me in the mirror. Except it’s not really me. Not anymore. This girl is much younger, her eyes not yet hardened by the world around her, yet they hold sadness. Deep sadness trapped in her dark brown eyes. A shade she has yet to learn to love. She wishes they were blue or green, like the other girls in her grade.
I go to scratch my nose and see that she does the same. As my fingers gently stroke the bridge of my own nose, hers, however, do not. Her fingers pinch and probe at her face. She read somewhere that pinching your nose a few times a day can help shape it, can help make it smaller. A sad smile creeps over my own face as I remember the countless hours I would spend “training” my nose to take up less space on my face—all the while, subconsciously training myself to take up less space in any given room because of it.
As my eyes make their way down the girl’s face, I land upon her lips. Or rather, just above it. She gets teased for it. The kids at school call her hurtful names. She doesn’t understand why she was born with an unsightly patch of hair above her lips. She doesn’t yet have a scar from trying to remove it either. A shiver crawls up my own spine as I remember the hot wax – a little too hot – burning my soft skin. I remember the salty tears that rolled down my face and made their way into my mouth. The taste of my own failures mocking me.
I sigh and shake my own head. The girl in the mirror does so as well. The only difference is that my own hair gently flows side to side, cascading down my back. Hers stays unmoving. glued to her head by an army of cheap drugstore hair products and plastic barrettes. She doesn’t know it yet, but through trial and error, she’ll come to learn how to style her natural locks. She’ll come to learn that straight hair isn’t the only hair type, even though no one else seems to have hair like hers. She wishes for golden, Rapunzel-length locks like the other girls in her class, but in time she’ll appreciate the curly crown she tries so badly to hide.
I make my way closer to the mirror and to the girl staring back at me. I extend my arm and go to reach for her fingertips, but all I feel is cold, hard glass. I see the girl looking back at me with so much sadness in her eyes. I wish I could reach through and hug her, tell her it’s going to be okay, tell her it’ll be alright. It gets better, I promise. I wish I could tell her that she doesn’t need to change herself for others, that how she looks is just as acceptable and equally as beautiful. I wish she’d believe me when I tell her she’s beautiful. That in time, she’ll love everything about herself, everything she tried so hard to change will be what she loves the most. I sigh and pull back from the mirror, this time staring not into the eyes of the girl trapped in the glass, but at myself. A silent thank you escapes my lips as I look in the reflection of the little girl’s face and see my own staring back at me.