Am I Pretty Now?

Am I Pretty Now?

A Story by Eleah Ruffin

There before me, I saw myself. A large, circular mirror with bulbs of light so blinding their imprints were marked every time I closed my eyes. They were stuck with me. I could see that the lights encircling the mirror reflected in my eyes, giving me a haunting glare. Dark marks dotted my face, scars, blemishes popped one by one under the light, laughing at me. It was as if the mirror was deliberately exposing every aspect of my appearance that I despised so much. My skin color was blotchy and blanched, hideous looking.

Footsteps echoed behind me, and I stiffened. I began adjusting my hair, smoothing it out, flattening parts that were sticking out, trying to give it more volume. They’re coming. I need to look my best. My absolute best. I continued to primp my hair and adjust my clothes, desperate to make my appearance more presentable, more appealing. After all, they had high standards. Very high. I needed to do my best to try to uphold them.

The footsteps grew closer, louder. My own heartbeat fell in line with them, pounding in my ears. My body began to tremble with fear, and I had to force myself to cease. That would only make things worse. As the footsteps neared, it felt as if I was shrinking in size. The mirror loomed over me like a giant that threatened to consume me and leave no trace. Without any warning, they dissolved from the darkness, one on each side of me. The man, his eyes analyzing every part of me. A scowl curled on his lips as he took in my appearance, clearly dissatisfied. Those piercing eyes clouded with judgement and disgust. My heart shrank, sinking with shame.

The woman, her arms crossed and a frown painted on her lips. Her fierce eyes with so much darkness stabbed like daggers into my heart. Judgement loomed over me with a simple gaze. I wanted nothing more than to cower in solitude. Her voice, thin ice and cunning, startled me out of my fearful trance. “Who do you think you are?”

I trembled. “U-um, I"”

The man cut in, voice raised and angry. “Honestly! You think you’re something, huh? Why, look at you!”

I looked to him. “W-well, I"”

“You’re an embarrassment, truly disgraceful.”

“Sad really.”

“We need to do something.”

“You need to do something.”

“You can’t possibly go out looking like that.”

“So many people out there will see you like that. Ha! What will they think?”

I was lost. “What do you suggest I do?”

The man rolled his eyes. “Well, for starters, those clothes.”

The woman joined in, voice echoing with power. “Yes, yes! That’s where we need to start.”

Just as they spoke, a chorus of clicks and rolls rang throughout the endless room. In the reflection of the mirror, I saw a white door amidst the darkness. A spotlight encircled it, like a lamp guiding me, encouraging e to come forth.

I stuttered, “B-but why do I"”


They were gone.


My body moved on its own. The closet opened up before me, like a ghost beckoning me forth, watching my every move.


Inside the closet was indescribable. Thousands upon thousands of clothes, whirring past me on hangers. Their jingles hissed a horrific melody. Cabinet and closet doors swung open, revealing endless piles of styles, shoes, jewelry, hats, gloves, anything you could think of. Luminescent bulbs radiated an eerie glow throughout the enormous space. Unbelievable. How could so many styles possibly exist? It was incredibly terrifying.

Any thoughts were drowned out by the hissing hangers. One by one, doors opened for her, extended on for what seemed like miles. The woman emerged out of thin air from one of the closets stuffed with clothes. “So, what’ll it be? I’m thinking something formal, professional. You can never go wrong with a professional look.” She reached into the pool of clothes and pulled out a pinstripe jacket with a white button down top. A pair of black dress pants appeared out of thin air. Her heels clicked and clacked on the cold, hard ground as she marched towards me. She let me feel the crispness of the selected clothes. “It would give off an air of confidence, that you run the show. Even though we both know that’s not true.” The woman scoffed, cackling in amusement. I felt a frown deepen on my lips. She elbowed me hard, making it seem like a joke. “Oh lighten up! Quit with your frowning, you look worse that way.”

I spoke up to defend myself. “I’m not that""

“Hey! What about this?”

The man’s words echoed in my ears. He sounded miles away, but he appeared not but a few feet away, emerging from another closet. In his hands, he held up a pair of ripped jeans with a graphic t-shirt and leather jacket. “What about this? You’d have a much cooler style than what you have right now. People would admire you for what good style you’ve got, because you clearly don’t have any.”

“Or maybe,” with a snap of her fingers, a rack of clothes sputtered from a door close by. It held a bunch of different styles, some I didn’t even think were common. “What about retro?”

“Eh, retro isn’t really in right now. Maybe a hipster look? That’s pretty popular."

“Or possibly a classy look? You know, something more mature, a more adult appearance.”

“Sporty?”

“No one really does sporty. Street style?”

“How about the classic bookworm, with a little modern twist?”

“Beachside? Country?”

“Or maybe a basic look to start?”

They bounced off ideas back and forth, naming style after style. They didn’t even bother to ask me what kind of style I preferred. What was the point of this? Half of these were completely unappealing to me. They ignored me as they rummaged through the rack, searching for a style that might suit me best. Why couldn’t I pick out my own style. At one point, the woman grew frustrated. She clapped her hands loudly, pulling me out of my thoughts. “You know what? Why don’t we let you try on some things and see what fits best?”

The man’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Oh, like a fashion show! Wonderful, I like it. Yes, here, take some clothes with you.” They each handed me piles of clothes, that towered and threatened to collapse in my arms. “Take those with you. Chop, chop! Let’s get this show going!” The next thing I know, I’m being shoved into a large circular room. A mirror reflected my bewildered expression. The door slammed behind me. “Let us know when you’re ready with the first outfit!”

Before I could contemplate any of the events around me, the hangers of clothes zipped from my arms and onto the thousands of hooks in the closet, displaying each style for me to examine. One by one, I observed each hanger. The number of them kept increasing, though I didn’t remember bringing in so many. None of the ones I spotted caught my eye. I settled on a business, professional look. A charcoal blazer and button down top with black dress pants and a pair of the ugliest shoes I’d ever seen. Just as I finished pulling on my shoes, the couple swung the door opened and entered, against my protests.

The woman beamed. “Much better! Much better! You look confident, but stop with the frowning, it contrasts the sharp look you’ve got going on.”

“Eh, it’s alright, but I think you can do better. Try on something else. That’s too professional. We want something a little more casual.”

“But still formal.”

“Yes still formal, but not too much. We can’t be too intimidating. A little more easygoing, but still having that mature look.”

What?  Is it possible to put all of that into one outfit? They slammed the doors on their way out and I turned, my reflection dreading the next outfit. I selected a more casual look, just a simple t-shirt, jeans and converses with a jean jacket to top it off.

The couple entered, matching scowls plastered on their faces. The woman shook her head. “Absolutely not. No, no, no. Too casual and basic. What is this, a TV drama in the suburbs?”

“Way too basic. Pick something else.”

I sighed. This is gonna take a while.

One after another, I tried on what seemed like a thousand different styles of clothing. The same critical comments would always spite me, like a knife to my chest. No. Absolutely not. Try again. It doesn’t compliment you. It doesn’t suit you. What on earth is that you’re wearing? Over and over again. It was tiresome. How was it they could come up with a completely different comment for each style. Finally, there was only one outfit left to try. It was hideous looking. A bright red button up top with splotches of yellows, pinks, and oranges. Black stripes cut through the colors horizontally and vertically. It looked like the masterpiece of a four-year-old.

The pants were the worse part. They looked extremely tight, made from a sort of leathery material. Holes were pierced on all sides. They were a sickening neon yellow. A pair of black combat boots were the only normal part of the outfit. As I squeezed into the pieces of clothing, I felt my body beg for room. God. Why was it so tight? Was this what people wanted? Would this make me look better? Would I be worthier wearing something like this? As I looked in the mirror, I tried to force on a smile. But my eyes showed nothing but despair.

Suddenly, the couple waltzed into the room. The woman was the first to gasp. “Perfect! Cutting, and stunning!”

“A great combination of something wishing to stand out and make a stand, without seeming too intimidating. Lovely, that’s it!”

“I think it works without any accessories, don’t you?”

“Why yes, the outfit speaks for itself.”

I shifted uncomfortably, desperate to make some room. “So, am I good? Does this look okay? D-do I look… better? More appealing? Attractive?”

They thought for a moment. Like daggers, their words cut into me. “Not quite.”

The woman chuckled, as if amused by my naivety. “We need to get you to make-up. Get rid of some of those blemishes.”

“And maybe give your face a… I don’t know, a glow? Something, anything that makes you look better.”

“Because let’s be honest"”

“You look awful!” Their cackles echoed throughout the room. The mirror behind me shattered with a large crack glittered across my weary face. All around me the room began to spin, but I didn’t care. I focused only on my cracked reflection. The lights flickered and burst, loud rumbling flowing through my body and roaring in my ears. My limbs were loose and swaying from the spinning, but I couldn’t take my eyes off my cracked reflection.

The next thing I knew, I was back in front of the mirror. The lightbulbs were even brighter than before. It was hard for me to focus. Speckled across my face were my many blemishes, splotches and dark marks. The couple emerged from the shadows, hands filled with clear make-up bags containing brushes, scissors and all kinds of horrors. Their mischievous grins made me uneasy.

The woman clasped my shoulder roughly. “Now, let’s get started, shall we.”

I shut my eyes tightly, wishing, praying to God that it would end. This nightmare or whatever it was, I wanted it to stop. I was done. I wanted to change, I wanted to look better, to look more attractive so maybe people wouldn’t see me any differently. But this isn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want it to be like this. I just wanted it all to be over.

Please.

Please.

Please.

A whisper tickled my ear. “Why are your eyes closed? Open them. See how beautiful you look!”


I opened them, and I gasped at what I saw. 


My face was caked with all kinds of product. My cheeks, chin, forehead, none of it was natural. It had a shine to it, like the glossy frosting to top off a cake. My eyes weren’t the color that they used to be. My lips were completely unnatural, when had they done that. My eyebrows were so much thinner than before, it was terrifying. I could tell they applied all the products to try and accentuate my cheekbones, but it was all fake. My hair stood on different ends, holding way more volume than it should. I almost looked like a lion with a wild mane.

“Do you like it?”

“You look absolutely phenomenal.”

Do I? I didn’t even know who that was in the mirror. That wasn’t me. At least, that wasn’t the me I thought I was supposed to be. That reflection in the mirror, it was some stranger. Someone I’d never met, never known. When did they get there? What had they done with me, the real me? Was this it? Was this all it took to be better? To look and feel confident? I couldn’t tear my eyes from my horrific reflection, feeling disgusted, humiliated and beaten. I shut my eyes, hands ripping through my hair.


I just wanted this nightmare to end.


© 2017 Eleah Ruffin



Author's Note

Eleah Ruffin
I tried my best to write this in a perspective that anyone would be able to relate to. This includes men, women or any person of any gender (forgive me if I forgot to include any). This was a story I had started writing a couple of months ago, but forgot about because of all the school work I had to do (cuz College, yay!) It kinda reflects how I've felt most of my life about my appearance, as well as how I feel like society wants me (or us in general) to appear a certain way in order to hold a certain quality about ourselves, and that I'd have more value if I dressed or looked a certain way. I'd constantly ask myself "Am I pretty now?" Hence the title of the story. I'm getting better, and I don't feel this way anymore now as a college student, but for a good portion of my life this was how I felt. Let me know what you think!

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It feels like the beginning of an interesting mystery story, rather than a semi-autobiographical statement. It left me wondering what would happen next.

My own view is that you don't need to try to hide gender. If a 'problem' is something that anyone might relate to, then they will understand regardless of whether it is a male or female voice describing the 'story'.

Posted 11 Months Ago


Eleah Ruffin

11 Months Ago

Thanks for the review! My goal wasn't to make it into a sort of autobiography, but rather my own per.. read more

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1 Review
Added on January 8, 2017
Last Updated on January 8, 2017
Tags: Beauty, Stereotypes, Society

Author

Eleah Ruffin
Eleah Ruffin

About
My name's Eleah. I'm a college student and a potential Psychology major and currently unknown minor. I have loved writing since I was in middle school. Though I unfortunately don't have much time for .. more..

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A Chapter by Eleah Ruffin