Morning in Suburbia

I don’t look at myself when I get in the shower.

I don’t wash my stomach.

I try not to pay attention to it at all.

As soon as I’m done in the shower I grab my brother’s t-shirt from the floor and put it in before throwing open the shower curtain. I don’t want to risk seeing myself in the mirror.

No one else is up. It’s just me and my Lord of the Rings soundtrack and I’m so grateful to have this time to myself. I take out all of my make-up and set it out on the bathroom counter.

Time to get ready for school.

CoverGirl OutLast foundation in 01 Fair

It is a powder-to-cream foundation.

It comes in a black rectangle compact with a square cosmetic sponge.

Without foundation my skin is red and blotchy. I have dark circles around my eyes and some uneven texture and tone. I pick up the cosmetic sponge and swipe it across the foundation pad making an ‘s’ shape. I begin to apply the foundation in the center of my forehead and sweep it down to the left and then to the right. I lift up the pink towel and cover the top part of my forehead so there’s no uneven coverage.

Pick up the sponge.

Swipe it across the foundation.

Apply foundation in upward strokes on the right cheek.

Never wipe foundation downwards. It looks unnatural.




Begin left cheek.

I wipe the foundation up towards my temples and slide the sponge down my nose to my lips. I cover my lips in foundation so my face is one color. I use the rest of the foundation on the sponge to cover my chin and any spots that need touching up. The crevices on the side of my nose always need extra attention. I close my eyes and coat my eyelids in the pale peach color. I place the sponge back in its holder and close the compact ‘click.’

That is better.

Now I am one color. The pores on the side of my nose still stand out too much. I need better foundation. If I had extra money I would spend it on a better foundation. That’s what I really needed, just a better foundation.

L’Oreal Perle collection in Copper Penny

Experts say to put on eye shadow with a make-up brush but I don’t have one of those so I use a paint brush.

I dab the paint brush in the eye shadow and bang the end of the brush against my hand to remove any excess color. I glide the brush over my left eye. I only apply color until I reach the crease of my eyelid. I dab the brush in the eyeshadow again and continue to put it on my right eyelid.

I open my eyes and look in the mirror. I went too far past the corner of my right eye. Now the left side is uneven.

That’s okay. I breathe in.

I can add more color to the left side. I breathe out.

I put more eye shadow on the paintbrush and apply it again to my left eye. I take two steps back from the mirror to see how I will look to people at school. I turn my head to the left–then to the right. The eyeshadow still extends too far to the right. I bite the inside of my cheek.

I open up my compact and take the sponge out. I cover the excess shadow with the foundation left on my sponge. I wipe the sponge upwards and quickly check the mirror. Now it looks too severe. I take the tip of my right index finger and smudge the shadow. Another glance in the mirror. That will have to work.

Maybelline Liqui-Liner in Blackest Black

I shake the bottle and unscrew the cap to the liner. I remove the brush from the bottle and look at the tip to make sure it is evenly coated. Pulling my left eye taught, I begin in the corner of the eye and make one solid line from right-to-left. I end the line just past the corner of my eye.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t extend your eyeliner past where your eyebrow ends. I’m careful to not break this rule.

I dip the applicator back into the bottle and shake it again, I remove it and hold my right eye taught. This eye is always difficult for me. I draw the line from the middle of the eyelid to the outside first. Sometimes doing this will make creating an even line easier. I can’t remember where I read that.

I star on the inside corner of my eye. Connect the two lines in one stroke, that’s the key. I open my eye and check my progress in the mirror. The right eye looks terrible, it’s uneven and inconsistent. This won’t work.

I dip the liner-brush back in the bottle and take it out, I go over the line again to try and smooth it out.

I open my eyes and look in the mirror.

Now the right line is thicker than the left line. I go over the line on the left eye to try and match the right eye. If the lines aren’t even then my eyes will look uneven.

I take a step back and look in the mirror again–this will have to do.

Maybelline Mascara in Black Brown, Waterproof

I remove the green cap and pump the brush back and forth in the bottle, three times.

I coat my left eye in mascara, beginning at the base of the lash and sweeping outwards. I do the same to my right eye.

My eyes itch.

They itch all the time. There is probably an eyelash in my eye. I use my thumb and index finger to tug at my eyelashes. I tug until eyelashes begin to come out. When I see one, I get excited. I look at it on my thumb and then put it on the mirror of the medicine cabinet. I continue to pull out my eyelashes, inspecting them all. I notice some have little black bulbs at the end of the them–what does that mean?

I’ve plucked out most of my eyelashes.

Cover Girl Pink Rush Blush

I use my Mom’s blush brush because her brush is made from natural bristles which means the application will be smoother and more natural. I can’t use my finger tips to apply blush because the oils from my finger tips will make me break out. I suck in my cheeks. I sweep the blush up towards my hairline to create what I hope looks like a cheek bone. Blending the blush into the hairline gives the appearance of higher cheek bones and thins out the face.

I hope I’m doing this right.

I can’t apply lipstick yet. I always apply that last.

First I have to get dressed.

I dart across the dark, empty hallway into my bedroom and carefully shut the door.

What do I wear today?

I already wore my green corduroys this week so I can’t wear those again until next week. I open up my jeans draw, there are twelve pairs of jeans. I only wear two of them. I take out each pair and look at them. I don’t want to go through the process of trying them on because if they don’t fit it will just be further proof of how disgusting I am and I already know that.

I end up choosing the medium-wash large bell bottom jeans. They were my sister’s but they don’t fit her any more so she gave them to me. I know these jeans fit.

I open up my shirt drawer.

I can’t wear the blue faux wrap shirt because I can only wear that with my blue dress pants. I already wore the green floral shirt with the corduroys, so that’s out. This pink t-shirt shows too much of my arms. I riffle through my shirts and grab four possible options. I pick up my jeans, a bra, and some underwear and run back into the bathroom. I quickly lock the door.

I hate this part.

I press my lips together and take off my brother’s shirt. I shake the pink towel off my head.

“If you can pinch an inch that’s an inch too much.” That’s what Mr. Curren said to us in fifth grade health class.

I stand in front of the mirror, unable to avoid what I look like. It’s better to just face it that’s the only way I’m going to get serious about how much weight I have to lose. I pinch different parts of my body trying to locate every extra inch. There are too many. There are far too many. My throat begins to tighten and burn, my face turns red. I push all my fat to the front of my stomach, there’s so much. I let it go, the fat redistributes itself.

The back of my arms have these red dots on them, so do my legs. I rub my fingertips up and down my thighs. I feel every single bump. Why do I have these? Why doesn’t anyone else have them? Why can’t I just have one normal thing, why can’t I have one thing that I like?

I grab the tweezers and begin to pluck the hair out of the red dots on my legs. It’s got to be ingrown hair. I look at myself in the mirror.

My clavicle bone is too big;

and my feet are too veiny;

my brow bone is not even;

the bridge of my nose is too broad;

my jaw line is crooked;

my teeth should be the same size;

my skin isn’t smooth;

my shoulders are too big;

my back has no muscle definition;

Sweat drips down my arm pits and trickles down my sides.

My face is completely flushes, I close my eyes. It will be better once I’m dressed. I just need to get dressed.


I take my jeans from the bottom of the pile and bend over to put my right leg in. My stomach sticks out and creates a roll. I avoid looking at it in the mirror but I can feel it. I clench my jaw, I bite down hard. I put my left leg into the jeans and begin to pull them up over my thighs and butt. I quickly button them and take a deep breath.

I pick up the white shirt with lace v-neck. I’ve been yelled at twice for wearing it with nothing underneath it. So today I will wear a white tank top under it, even though I know adding layers is only going to make me look fatter.

I put on my bra. It’s the same one I wear everyday. I take my white tank top and put it on. My arms are so big, if I could just lose some weight, just anything.

I take the sheer white top and put if over my head. It is an empire waist, it has two strings just under the bust that you tie in the back. I take the two strings and pull tight trying to make my waist look as small as I can. I tie it tight.

I sit down on the edge of the tub and look in the mirror. I imagine myself sitting at a desk. This is how people will see me. Suck in.

The white tank top is bulky, it makes me look like I have extra rolls. I suck in more and adjust both shirts. I straddle the ledge of the bath and look and look in the mirror again. This is what I look like from a profile, that’s not so bad. I’m too wide all around, but you can’t tell so much from my profile. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m always wearing a coat, or have a binder, a backpack, or a book covering my stomach.

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Raspberry Glace

This lipstick was free with any Clinique purchase worth $29.50 or more during Marshall Field’s Beauty Week.

I take off the cap and twist the lipstick up until it is out of the tube. I dab it in the center of my bottom lip, then the top lip. I follow the shape of my lips until they are covered in lipstick. I press my lips together and lean into the mirror to see how I did. The left side of my lip is a bit smaller than the right side, just slightly so. I fill in the left side a bit more until both lips look even. Symmetry.

I grab the hair dryer from under the sink in the bathroom. Time to brush my hair. I notice how much hair I’ve lost. You can clearly see my scalp, I can’t part my hair down the middle anymore. Strands of hair fall out in the sink and onto the floor. I turn the hair dryer on and drown out the sound a brief but audible scream.

When my hair is finally dry I brush it again. I lay out ten hairpins on the sink. I take a bit of hair on the right side, twist it and pin it in place. I do the same for the left.

I use the medicine cabinet mirror to look at the back of my head to make sure that no part of my scalp is showing.

I stand back, on final look before I go to school; I remind myself to not eat, to suck in, to not be noticed.

I turn off the lights and close the door.

It’s 6:55 a.m.