She remembered the laugh. The obnoxious bellow that erupted when her crush twirled her before his comrades. It was the kind of laugh that ripped the core of her beliefs from her heart and shredded them in the fires of the abyss. She wasn’t just unattractive in his eyes, but the very thought of being with her made him snicker. Never had she hated herself so.
She returned home with ugliness in her heart. She looked in her mirror and only saw imperfections. She hated them. Every stretch mark, scar, wrinkle, bulge, burn, hair, off-colored pigmentation, and blemish became her enemy.
She prayed to God fervently, “Make me beautiful!”
She did not receive a response in her soul. She was left out in the cold realization that maybe God didn’t create masterpieces. Still, she believed God would come through. Faith without works is dead, so there was work for her to do.
She would be beautiful. She had to be. She didn’t want to be the butt of their jokes again. She would become the woman they write songs and poetry about. She just had to find out how.
Quietly in the darkness, she studied. She had plenty of examples. The world was full of them. She could use makeup, she could change her hair, or she could change her body. She could fix every problem she saw – all the problems that made them laugh.
She decided to start with her face, the main reason she got turned away. One stroke from a brush and her ugly would fade. She excitedly made an appointment with an artist. The next morning, she entered the studio with glee and sat in the seat.
“Wow,” the artist breathed.
“Make me prettier than every woman who has come before me!” the woman screamed.
“But you’re already so pretty,” the artist declared. “It’s even in your name, ‘Bella’. You can pick from the best of fellas.”
“If I could get any of these gentlemen, why did I not get ‘him’?” she asked.
The artist had no response. Thus, Bella had her unleash her craft. Like the master she was, the artist moisturized, texturized, contoured, highlighted, and blended. She crafted a masterpiece that really felt permanent. Bella saw her face anew. She danced and thanked the artist for making her beautiful. This was the prettiest she had ever felt. She paid the fee and returned to her crush once again. She had to hear how he had found her so radiant.
“It’s the body, for me. You were already so pretty,” her crush said detestably.
She returned home dejected; continued her research more meticulously. She stared at the mirror and loathed her body. She made an appointment for surgery. Certainly, a surgeon could make her appealing.
This was what she felt when she walked into the office the next morning. She made it in before her surgeon could even check her request. As soon as she walked in, he took a breath.
“You took my breath away! Why do I see you’re asking for surgery today?” he asked in dismay.
“Make me sexier than every woman who has come before me!” Bella screamed.
“But you’re already so pretty,” the surgeon declared. “It’s even in your name, ‘Bella’. You shouldn’t be having any trouble alluring the fellas.”
“If I’m supposed to have no trouble with gentlemen, how come I couldn’t get ‘him’?”
The surgeon had no response. Thus, Bella had him begin his procedure. He drew lines all over her, marking the territories where he’d cut her. He laid her upon a bed and filled her with sedatives. Once she was sleep, he placed parts of her where they weren’t meant to be. Her breasts became perkier, her butt became a booty, and her stomach was as flat as a Barbie. Her figure had become the hourglass she wanted it to be. They type of hourglass that gets shown on TV. The best part about it was that it was blemish free. No scars, no burns, no marks, and no hairs. She had become the model she always wanted to be.
Now, he would see. How could he resist her after obtaining the body that makes men thirst? This was what they all liked. This was the body they bragged about proudly. This was what they all praised. She thanked the surgeon and skipped away; thoughts filled with her crush finally calling her “babe”.
“It’s the hair for me,” was all he had to say.
She walked away in disarray; continued her research for many days. She stared in the mirror and wondered what happened to her hair. A woman’s hair was her glory. That was written in God’s story. The fact that she missed this made her worry. She looked up a beautician to get her hair done. A pretty face, a slim waist, and luscious hair would ensure that she had won.
She walked into the shop and knew which way she would have it shaped. He liked the hair that had multiple colors. He liked his women to keep their hair shorter. He liked it when a woman’s hair was straight. Long as she stayed within these parameters, she’d be okay.
The beautician approached with a gasp, “Your hair is so beautiful! So coarse, so rich, so full!”
“Make me more glorious than every woman who has come before me!” Bella screamed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Her beautician was so sassy. “Honey, if these men don’t want you, you can have me! Your beauty is awe-inspiring! Get at me!”
“If my beauty draws men and woman, how come I couldn’t get ‘him’?”
Her beautician had no response. Thus, Bella had her commence. She washed, she dried, she combed, and she rolled. She creamed, Bella screamed, she washed, and she dried. Once she finished, for Bella, it looked like her hair was alive. In the eyes of her beautician, her hair had apparently died. Bella never felt so alive. She glided out of the shop in all her pride.
Before she could return to the crush who had hurt her, a good man appeared. He just had to say a word.
“Excuse me!” he shouted from down the street.
She rolled her eyes and looked away displeased.
“I don’t mean to bother you. I just had to say. You are so mesmerizing. You take me breath away!”
She smiled pretentiously and reached out her hand. He shook it with joy and put his phone in her hand.
“Let me take you out. I wish to see your beauty,” he asked with glee.
She bellowed and replied, “Who do you take me to be?”
She laughed at the notion of him trying to be with her. He took his phone away, and became unnerved.
“Do you see me? All this fine on me? There’s no way we’d ever be a thing. I mean, look at you. You aren’t for me.”
“Oh,” the man uttered. His joy flustered by her devious words. “I just thought you were beautiful. That’s all. Whoever has your attention, let him see you in heels from the mall.”
She thanked the good man and headed to the store. She bought the pair of heels that’d make her feet sore. The eyes that stared were galore. It made her uncomfortable but she still felt adored. There was no way he’d deny all this beauty she became. There was no way he’d turn her away in shame.
She came back to her crush. She flaunted her face. She bared her body. She headlined her hair. She smiled from ear to ear, ready to receive his admiration. Instead, she received most dreadful information.
“Who are you?” he asked with a tone so crass. “You got your fake hair, your fake butt- your fake breast and you’re covered in makeup. If you don’t move around. I’d rather be with a woman than be with a clown.”
Once again, her heart was thrown into a sea of melancholy to drown. All this effort and he still hadn’t come around. She ran away, again, from him and his men. She came back to the mirror and felt even uglier. It didn’t matter her shape; it didn’t matter her face. She would always be ugly to him. That was the truth she couldn’t see. She wept and wailed and called her mommy.
When her mother came, she found herself feeling very estranged. The daughter she had come to know now looked so unrecognizable. Her skin was so smooth, and her hair was so straight. She couldn’t see her eyes beneath the paint.
“Come here, my pretty,” her mother said gently.
Bella turned from the mirror and faced her mother. With gentle hands, her mother lifted Bella’s face. She looked into her eyes, beneath what was displayed. Deep in the core, her daughter was still there, weeping evermore and trapped in despair. The sorrow of a woman trapped in a man’s world. She hoped for love, but was rather gifted misery. She thought she’d be different enough to avoid this ill-gifted destiny.
“Come,” her mother said as she turned her back to the mirror. “Tell me what you see.”
Bella looked at herself with pity. She had changed so much of herself to fit into the admiration of men that she didn’t know if she’d ever recognize herself again. Who was this woman with the straight hair and the constructed shape? Was all that she had done a mistake?
Her mother sensed the absence of safety within her being. She whispered and said, “Have I ever told you you’re beautiful?”
“You’ve said it many times before… but if I’m so pretty, why doesn’t the man I want most want me?”
“What we want isn’t always what we need. Tell me. Has no one else ever called you pretty?”
Bella searched her memories. She remembered every voice that had said she was pretty. She remembered hearing, “Wow”, as the artist breathed. She remembered how the surgeon breathed because she took his breath away. She remembered being called “pretty” in the beautician’s seat. She remembered the man who only wanted to see her beauty. All these ignored moments almost caused her to weep.
She confessed, “I prayed to God to make me beautiful, insinuating that I wasn’t already. Yet, God still sent me messenger after messenger to remind me of my beauty. Turns out I was beautiful all along. I was just caught up in looking like the woman who gets her own song.
When you’re looking to be loved, you can’t forget to love yourself. For if you love yourself, you have obtained a gift of insurmountable wealth. I wish I had remembered this before I altered my body. Seeing me now… I don’t even recognize me.”
She fell to her knees and began to weep. She didn’t know who to be in her new body. She wanted her stretch marks, her scars, her wrinkles, her bulge. She wanted her burns, her hairs, her curves, and all her blemishes, including her off-colored pigmentation. Beauty still faded when she lost what was important. It is not the surface that makes you pretty, but always being who you were meant to be.
“Trying to be in his world should’ve never costed me ‘me’,” she whispered softly. “I have to get back to loving me for me. I have to refocus, and find who I’m supposed to be.”
So ends the tale of a woman trapped in a cell that she created in her own mind when she saw a man and became blind. A beautiful woman living a beautiful life turned ugly just from one sacrifice. Thankfully, this one had time to find herself again. Thankfully, this one realized her mistake before the end.
She, was but one of many who have lost themselves in a struggle to be a certain man’s type of pretty. She, was one of many who have lost themselves in infatuations and crushing. She, was one of many redefining themselves with their new bodies. She, was one of many…