Every day I peer into the bathroom mirror, trying to like the woman I see.
I hate my flat, thin hair. My friend has beautiful hair. It dazzles, her beautiful blonde curls haloing her face in soft waves. She has it done professionally; it costs over a hundred dollars and takes three hours.
I’ve lost eighty pounds this year. I run six miles a day and spend hours in the gym. My friend doesn’t eat much during the day, only dinner. She’s thinner than she used to be. Thinner than me.
I try to dress nicely, wear flattering clothes. My girdle squeezes my bulges of fat into submission. By the end of the day, my stomach will cry for release. I think of Victorian women, whose corsets deflated their lungs; I think of the men who sanctioned having women’s ribs removed for the sake of molding waists they could encircle with their hands.
I have boots that give me blisters, heels that cramp my calves. I have a pair of sandals that cut me. But no one can see the scars while I’m wearing them. My big feet disgust me. In China, they once reshaped girls’ feet by breaking their toes and forcing them into tiny shoes. Their options were a few years of pain in youth or a lifetime working in the fields because no man would marry a woman with unbound feet. It was for their own good.
I draw quick eyeliner strokes. My sister has her makeup tattooed on. She’s pleased when the cosmetician congratulates her for not squirming. She still has to apply extra layers of makeup; she says she doesn’t feel it anymore if she pokes herself in the eye.
I glare at my breasts, which are already beginning to sag. My friend is getting hers enlarged. I think of her small, perky chest being sliced open and foreign material shoved inside. I feel nauseous, and something else as well. Envy.