Pretty

Samantha Fraser

“At least I’m still pretty” she says silently to herself, knowing that valuing her looks is a symptom of capitalism, knowing she has much more to offer than these eyes and lips, but in that moment relying on them to help her survive yet another day.

She hates acknowledging the fake value of beauty while recognizing that “being pretty” is the only thing in her body she can still control.

Eyeliner doesn’t hurt her the way a storm can. Lipgloss only shines and doesn’t take away her energy, day in and day out. Blush helps her look more alive, especially in those moments when just living is hard. A winged eye is the perfect trick so when she catches herself in the mirror she forgets the agony for the smallest moment in time.

She is flawed and not a pro, but she still knows what colours to sweep on to make her eyes become all you can see when you look at her. She knows her lips are envied by some and desired by others, though all they seem to do for her now is form words of pain, exhaustion, and sadness, again and again and again until she’s forgotten they could ever serve any other purpose.

She clings onto these moments of pretty, never happy to remove the paint before bed, fearing that this is the night the beauty is lost forever. It is her armour, her distraction, her tool to convince all that she is and can be more than the burden she feels.

More than someone held captive by a nervous system that seems to want to punish her for wishing she could ever be something more than this again.

If you get caught up in the sparkle in her eyes, maybe you won’t notice how her pain is all-consuming. aIf you notice the highlight of her nose and how it glistens in the light, you won’t realize that her needs now are many and often. If you notice the ink on her skin, maybe you won’t notice she can no longer give you the world anymore, though she wants to so desperately, because hers has become so incredibly small.

And if you do see her for more than the broken she feels,maybe she can forget.
Maybe she can pretend. Maybe she can find peace.

Until then, at least she’s still pretty.

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