I hated how plain she looked, then I ended up looking just as plain.
I’d forgotten her name, but I remember how much I disliked her the moment I saw her.
She had just walked into the lecture theatre in her plain blouse and black pants. Shoulder-length hair, undyed, unstyled, framing a face untouched by any makeup.
She’s so plain, I thought. Something about her had curdled something within me. I still remember why I felt that way, it was because something about her had screamed bleakness. As if the way she looked was an expression of who she is.
Unable to help myself, I leaned over to my friend and whispered to her. “I hope I never end up like her.”
I always felt like I didn’t change much, but when I look back at moments like that, I know I have changed.
I didn’t know this then. It wasn’t how she looked that bothered me. It was the fact that I saw myself in her. We were around the same height and build, and we had the same hair color and face shape.
I had developed slowly all my life, so at eighteen, I was still learning how to use cosmetics, buying eyeshadows and blushes and whatnot. Deep down, I couldn’t enjoy it. I hated having a layer of something suffocating my skin. But I wanted to look like I’m someone, you know?
Seeing someone who looks like an adult version of me was like looking at a potential version of myself. What if I turned out as boring as she looks? What would that say about my life?
But you already know, I turned out to be very much like her. Albeit with better-fitting clothes and no accomplishment. Not a lecturer, far from it.
In the years since I was eighteen, I had tried to obsess over my appearance with no success. I tried different styles of dressing, curled my hair, and wore crazy sequined shoes. Every time I bought makeup, swearing I’ll wear them, they end up expiring while mostly unused.
In the end, I settled on mostly plain black clothes, no makeup, and naturally straight hair — just plain old me.
At 36, I have never had a manicure, and I don’t own foundation, eyeliner, or mascara. When I doll up, I put on some lip…