Do you ever get a bad feeling in your chest right before you do something that you know is wrong? Because you want to be known; you want a reputation, whether it is a good or bad one. I have this feeling right now as I look at myself in the mirror. My light brown hair cascades down to the middle of my back in soft ringlets and the mask of make-up that I have on covers every freckle and blemish that is plastered to my face. I look like a Barbie doll to say the least, that’s what I’ve always wanted; why don’t I feel like one? I set the timer on my camera and drop my fuzzy, white robe to the floor, letting every ounce of my innocence go with it. Ten, nine, eight; I take a deep breath and shake out my rickety hands. Seven, six, five, four seconds left; I pose with the privacy of my body being exposed to the camera. I arch my back, suck the air from my lungs to expose my ribs, and bat my eyes. Three, two, one; the camera flashes, the picture is taken, and the breath that I let out carries all of my doubts with it.
Seconds later, I sit at my desk with my laptop open and log into my Tumblr account. I insert the memory card and just stare at the ‘upload’ button for what seems like hours. Do I really want to do this? If this is the only way for me to become visible, do I take it? I sigh and click the ‘upload’ button before logging off, without another thought on the matter.
On Monday, I walk through the front doors of my school and over to my locker with my head down. When I open the metal door, there is a tap on my shoulder and I nervously turn around to face the most popular group of boys in this lockup. They are all at least my age, if not older, and all of them look over my body with eyes that disgust me. As if I am a deer in the woods and they are the pack of hungry wolves that has me ambushed. “Can I help you?” I ask them, breaking the silence. Without a word, they all smirk and walk away. I still feel like they are superior to me. All I want is to be known as something other than a ‘no one’ I want to be noticed by someone, anyone; if this is the only way that it can happen, then so be it.
I look around me, and people just stare. I feel like they are all ready to kill me just by the way they glare, their eyes piecing my soul. Throughout the day, they all just stare at me like I am an animal; or some alien. It’s worse…because I do care. This is what I wanted; to be noticed. Now, I am being noticed. A couple people come up and talk to me, but they either ask me for a ‘round’ or why I would do something like I did. All I can do is shrug. I don’t know how to respond to what they are saying.
When I get home, I throw my blue backpack in the corner of my room and log onto my Tumblr to find over 4,000 responses on my photo. I scroll through some of them; “You’re pretty”, “Nice body”, “You’re hot”, “Why don’t I know you?”, some of them say. I smile at these. I scroll past some that just make my heart stop. “What a slut”, “Why would you do this?”, “You’re stupid if you think that people will like you this way”, they say. My eyes well up and my bottom lip starts to quiver. I keep reading through the comments; “You hoe”, “You’re hair is oily”, “You’re fat”. They all stick out to me.
I close my laptop and go over to my mirror. I too, stare at myself, just like everyone else today had. I turn to the side and look at the small bump over my stomach. It’s not that big, hardly noticeable. Well, it’s a little noticeable, but it’s no big deal… right? And my hair isn’t oily. I’m a teenager, what do you expect? My body isn’t perfect like the models’. I don’t have a thigh gap or a flat stomach or luscious hair or a size two dress size. I’m not perfect like everyone else; why do they have to point out my flaws?
The next few days were a bit of a blur. I would go to school in jeans and a large sweater trying to hide every imperfection on my body. I wore tons of make-up to cover the bags under my eyes from the previous sleepless nights, where I just sat on my bed and cried. I tried to ignore all of the stares that I got when I walked to my class or my locker. I swatted away all of the boys who tried to lift up my shirt or play with my hair or pinch my bum. I blocked it all out; though nothing could keep back the endless comments online, which only made the cycle repeat itself for one more day, one more week, one more month before I deleted it. Even then, it didn’t stop. It’s a drastic change. From being invisible to being talked about wherever I turn. An immense, heartbreaking pain burns in my soul; I know that I have awakened to monsters.
People judge; it’s a fact about human beings. I started off a teenager with good marks and no friends. Reputation: none. Status: loner, nobody. One photo changes everything with the snap of someone’s fingers. My long, curly, light brown hair now is now carelessly pulled back from my face in hopes of finding the unattainable ‘perfection’ in which I seek. The light make-up I wore every day is now thick and dark on my face and around my eyes. My stomach, once convex, is now concave and I no longer have to suck in to see my ribs. I look in the mirror and see a no one… still. I am known, but not in the way that I want to be. People spit at me when I walk by and call me names. And all this because of one photo. Now I look at myself differently. Ten, nine, eight; I take a deep breath and shake out my rickety hands. Seven, six, five, four seconds left; I step onto the stool, and tie the rope that is secured to the ceiling around my neck. Three, two, one; I jump, and the rope that constricts and then snaps my airway takes away all of the pain, giving me back my freedom.
In memory of my friend, Natalie. I love you.