Reflections can be treacherous. They can force you to see yourself and face who you have become, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We became older. We became a product of our culture. We became an embodiment of societal norms and values. The metamorphosis of our bodies transformed us from puberty leaving scarred, stretched, and formidable vessels. Biology created us, yes, but society raised us. In our transformation we were not only evolving physically in ways that touched our surface, but our transformation also occurred within our mind, heart, and soul. As females, not only have our bodies been altered by the physical nature of biology- the monthly menstrual cycles, the distribution of fat as it stores itself in our bodies, and the hormonal changes in our thoughts, desires, and appetites- our bodies have also been altered mentally and emotionally.
During your metamorphosis, you go head-on with your most resilient, vigorous, and powerful component - Life. It's the ultimate boxing match between biology and society, and everyone is watching as you're about to go rounds. You're four rounds in and you believe your natural hair is too "nappy" and doesn't match the kind of hair that your dolls or the little girls on your TV shows have. You beg and beg for your hair to look like theirs so your mom takes you to the hair lady and you get your first relaxer. Your scalp is burning. Every inch of the life beneath the coat of white chemical is dying to the root.
The promise of your curls being voluptuous again has been sacrificed. But all the while, you keep going because you are tired of your hair not being straight and silky like the Barbie dolls you play with. After hours of heat torture and the smell of burnt biology filling the air, you look in the mirror and your hair is straight- no longer curly and wild. The hair lady says "you got that good hair now girl." And you smile as society takes that round. Fast forward to your twelfth round. You're in middle school now, you spend hours on YouTube watching videos on how to get "clear skin". You're crying every night because nothing is working. You've used every product and spent hundreds of your parent’s money on hair products. Instead of growing up in a society that acknowledges that acne is natural, major part of puberty and shouldn't be anything to be ashamed of, all we hear is how to get rid of it; how to cover it up. Disney actors and the pre-teens on Television, in movies, and on social media all have the "perfect" skin; clear and glowing with radiance. You hate mirrors now. You hate your reflection. You hate your appearance.
Now you move on to another source- make up. Conceptualize that term, "Make-up." A labeled commodity that intentionally tells young girls and women that using this product will make you up. You will be better looking. You will be superior. You cake this on. You start to watch more videos on social media on how to apply "Make-up," how to use it "properly," and how to make yourself look "beautiful." And with that, society won the twelfth round. We realize that society will continue to win every round if we continue to define beauty by external standards that deem biology as inferior.
Life never stops pushing though. When you grow older more components start entering the ring and society has influenced them all; components like love, pain, pleasure, passion, knowledge, and our choices. We having to take on all of these at the same time. Influenced by society’s portrayal of how to be a female, we have to figure out how to win at love, at knowledge, at making choices. You don't realize you've lost until you're looking in the mirror one day and you look beyond the physical parts of you and you start staring deeper. You're looking at yourself asking, "How did I get here?" "When did I become this person?" You haven't seen your natural hair in weeks, it's been straightened and concealed to reflect society’s beauty standards. Your nails haven't seen daylight in months for you have decided that acrylics are more presentable than stubs.
Your foundation is running down your cheek from the heat of the day, and the breakout you were trying to cover up is slowly revealing itself. You are facing the pressures of college. You are facing making choices about what you will do when you get out of college. You're in debt from student loans and you've been working longer shifts; five days in a row now. You tried that love thing and it didn't work out. You didn't match-up to societies expectations of a perfect couple. You are battling with your curves because it's been twenty years now and you've developed a fuller set body. But you still don't look like the Barbie dolls seen in the media you used to look-up to. This metamorphosis into a woman has made you sacrifice pieces of yourself, it has made you become someone you didn't know you'd ever be, and it has made you stronger.
You are standing in front of a mirror and the girl staring back at you is unidentifiable, but she meets every expectation of society perfectly. Well, once she fixes her makeup.
Three authentic voices