too pretty .
No one really understands how difficult it is to be beautiful. People don’t really think they’re beautiful, but after a while they know, because of all the people that tell you so. Humans are so attracted to beauty that it ruins everything. Nothing can be perfectly beautiful, because those who see it will always contaminate it.
I lay down, waiting for my picture to be taken, easing my body against the sheets like the photographer told me to. He looks at me with so much unconcealed lust that I almost gag. But I smile instead and shift over to my left like he’s instructed. I look down at my chest, resisting the urge to curl up and cover myself. You’d think that after three years of underwear modelling I’d get used to it, but I haven’t. I don’t understand how the others are now unfazed. I don’t understand how they can accept such exposure. How can one display their body so easily, even if it’s considered pretty?
My shoulders rest on my curled hair, ruining everything the hairdresser did only ten minutes ago. The photographer nods. I smile slightly, but he stops me. Click.
I can hear the lens of the camera zoom out as I turn over, and I picture it now, covering my whole body with its glassy eyes. More clicks.
I know my body isn’t flawless. I know every inch so well that I’ve learnt how to tilt myself so the bad bits don’t come up as much. Not that it isn’t photo shopped afterwards anyway, but I know it makes it a little better. There are wobbly bits and dimpled bits and spotty bits. The only reason I’m here, and not slaving away at MacDonald’s, is that I have less of these bits than everyone else. When they see the pictures, they’ll think I’m beautiful. They’ll want to have less wobbly bits and spotty bits, and they’ll buy the underwear I’m wearing because it’s pretty. What they won’t realise is that it won’t get any better, white laced bra or not.
I climb up, out of my reclined position and smile at the photographer. He asks me if I want to see the photos, but I shake my head. There are enough photos of me; I don’t need to see these ones. I already know what they’ll look like anyway, because they’re always the same. He sighs, tells me I’ve done a good job, and I’m free to go. But I know that he’ll be following me with his lustful eyes. I know that he’ll be scanning my silhouette while I’m walking away, imagining whatever it is that he can’t help imagining. Just like all the other men. I shudder at the thought, and try to calm myself by thinking of the car I’m planning to buy next week.
Beauty comes at a price, but sometimes also pays a high price. My pay is going into a shiny new silver Echo on Tuesday, and I’m excited. I will no longer have to stand at this bus stop, being ravaged by the eyes of all these men. I look away when they’re looking, because I know they’re never ashamed enough to look away.
I close my eyes, attempting to concentrate on my music so I don’t have to picture their glances in my mind.
After a few moments I hear the sound of a bus approaching, and I open my eyes to check the number, but I can’t see past a few men that are blocking my line of vision. I take a few steps to look past them, but one of them shifts, and I realise that they’re facing me, instead of the street. There are three of them, standing there, slouched and drunk and staring. My heart begins to race.
They murmur words to each other, laughing, but never once taking their eyes off me. Every time I move, they encircle me. I try to remember the defence tactics we were taught in high school, but nothing comes to mind.
Deep breath. Smile. Confused smile. He’s walking towards me now. Smiling wasn’t a good idea. Shit.
I can’t even move backwards; there’s a wall behind me. There are two other men at the bus stop that are lining up to get on the bus. They’re not going to do anything. The ones edging closer to me have eyes that tell me ‘You had it coming.’ My heart beats faster.
I know I can’t overpower three men. I also know that I can’t run away fast enough in my pretty pink shoes. So I scream. I scream with all the power I have, with all the breath in my lungs. I take deep breaths and scream over and over again. I scream until I’m almost crying.
And when I look up, they’re gone.
I test my voice, to see if it’s still there, and get on the next bus that comes.
When I get home, I stand in front of the full length mirror on my wall.
Whoever said that beauty is a curse wasn’t completely right. It doesn’t stay forever.
But apart from that, it might as well be true.