Stop. Don’t look at her hair, don’t watch the way the curls bounce over the back of her black striped t-shirt. Walk away. See that girl over there? Don’t look at the curves of her body. Stop. Run your hands over your own hips and see yourself for what you really are. Worthy. Her legs might not touch, but yours do. That’s okay. It’s okay to have acne scars over your face and it’s okay to find a stretch mark or two on the sides of your body. I promise. Listen to me, you matter. Show people your perks. Stop and show everyone your rosy cheeks and the way your face flushes whenever you get a compliment. Listen to the compliments. Show people your favourite songs and the way that they tickle your body with goose bumps at 1am. The freckles that decorate your face as soon as the sun kisses your skin. Stop, don't look at her. Admire yourself. You're worth that. Show people your hobbies, your talents, your favourite words and the way they roll off your tongue. Show people what really matters. And, one more thing – smile. Open up that mouth and take pride in your white teeth. Show people the way they gleam. Smile, it makes the envy, and the embarrassment, disappear. Make it all disappear.
Sunday, 15 June 2014
“... oh and I picked you up a magazine, it’s over there somewhere.”
The bag crinkled as I reached inside, my fingers sliding over the jam jars and plastic wrappers. The magazine was this week’s edition, the latest of all things celebrity related, the rumours that are made up without a second’s thought and the pictures that required hour’s worth of stalking to snap.
She stood tall and proud, hand on the line of her hip, fingers pressed against the silver sequins that someone had taken the time to sew into her dress. I ran my palm down the silk of the page, outlining the curves of her figure. The dress was short enough to reveal the length of her legs, thighs touching down to her knees. Her golden tan glistened. I flipped the page and the palm trees waved to me, ocean water sparkling like her eyes. A full body picture lit up the page. I had to blink before I understood that the stretch marks that wove their way up her stomach and legs were real. I couldn’t even see her ribcage through her body. Countless pictures filled the sheets, women with hips that curved outwards like a wine glass, smiles that hinted at the idea of a double chin, stomachs that flaunted rolls.
I threw the magazine to the side and eyed my reflection with a blurred vision. I pressed my feet together until they were numb, but the gap between my thighs was still there. I ran my hands down the sides of my body, waiting for a curve that would never come. "There's nothing to grab onto," the boys would say. I shook my arms and expected them to jiggle. They didn’t. I searched for stretch marks but all I could see were the tears that stained my cheeks.
Why couldn’t I look like them? Why couldn’t I be like the girls in the magazines?
Monday, 9 June 2014
“Do you have everything Molly? Your ticket, yes, oh and your passport, where’s your passport, you’ve lost it, haven’t you?”
“It’s right here, Mum.” I pulled the red leather bound booklet out from my jacket pocket, waving it in front of her face, close enough to wipe away the tears that stained her cheeks.
“Alright well, be safe now, call us as soon as you get there okay... make sure the administration knows who you are and check that the dorm is clean and everything-” I wrapped my arms around her, squeezing until her words turned into heavy breaths. “See you at Christmas, darling.”
Dad held his arms across his chest, the collar of his shirt sticking up and out of place. I reached over with one arm, ready for a light embrace. As he pulled me up into his arms my suitcase thudded to the polished airport floor. He lifted me up until my feet hovered. He spun me around like the little girl he still saw me as, the way we used to twirl together at my childhood birthday parties, getting tangled in my pale pink tutus. My friends would stand in the corner, jealous looks painted over their faces.
“You’ll be fine, chick.” Another childhood tradition.
“Kailee...” I ran my hand over my little sister’s face, her eight year old hands clinging onto mine.
“Don’t leave. Who’s gonna braid my hair in the morning?”
I crouched down and gazed into her deep hazel eyes as I spoke. “Mum can do it.” She shook her head with such force; I couldn’t hold back the tears. Strands of her dirty blonde hair stuck to the sweat on my palm as I stroked her. We didn’t say anything, neither of us had the words. As I pulled away, I planted a single kiss on her forehead and ran my finger over her cheeks. My hands absorbed her tears like a memory that I’d never be left without. I looked at her for the last time and blinked twice. In those two blinks, I wanted to let her know that I’d still be there. I’d still be there to help her choose the perfect hairclip to match her outfit and I’d still be there to help her reach the cookie jar when Mum had hidden it out of her reach. I’d still be there for all the friendship struggles and I was just a phone call away for all the boy troubles that were bound to come sooner rather than later. She mirrored my actions, blinking twice to show me that understood.
And, with that, I checked my passport for the last time and got swallowed up by the security scanners. By the time I’d turned around, I couldn’t see them anymore.