I can't imagine because it's not what I've been taught. I've been taught that all I have is my beauty. I've been taught that I'm fortunate because I can walk down the street and garner the licentious stares of men old and young (though mostly old), black and white (though...when I was heavier mostly black, now, mostly white) women who are either 1. confused or 2. jealous, and children who don't know any better because they haven't yet learned that looking at people for the sake of looking is a shame to be covered with sunglasses and sidelong stares.
Here I am, wondering if maybe my whole world won't fall apart like an Oreo left in milk a second to long. Here I am, wondering if maybe my outside can make up for what I lack on the inside. I quit my job, yes because it drove me insane, but for other reasons. Reasons I should be ashamed of.
I just couldn't be pretty enough. I was too busy working hard. I couldn't be skinny enough. I had no time to exercise. I couldn't stand to see the beautiful black girls failing my class because they spent too much time dieing their hair the perfect shade of burgundy (from root to tip) and finding the right shoelaces to match. Partly because I was disgusted, partly because I was jealous.
Oh to have that much time to get ready. To beautify. To make myself perfect for the male gaze (and enviable for the female one). Nothing skanky, that would push me out of my comfort zone. Stylish, urbane, unique, and beautiful. Shaved legs and pussy, skin smelling like Brazilian nuts and lips moist with plum tented lip gloss. Hair pulled back, or left free flowing, I'm natural. All this to fool them into thinking I'm comfortable with myself. I don't need to show skin to be beautiful, I don't need to conform to western European white bitch standards to love myself and hold my head high.
I can't hold it high unless I know someone is looking. I can't pretend that my confidence isn't directly correlated to the stares that send shivers down my spine. They tense me, they scare me, they make me feel dirty and cheap. I complain about them to my friends, I look down on those who direct them toward me, I avoid them by sitting in the back of the metro or walking so fast by a construction site or group of niggas that people think I have to pee.
But I'm nothing without it.
It's a reminder, that no matter what, I still have something. I could be cold, uncharitable, stupid, silly, mean, petty, manipulative, insecure, but I'll always be worth something to someone. And sometimes, even if I'm not any of those things, I'll only be worth that to someone. I can never rise above it, but I can take comfort in knowing I won't fall below.
At least not for about 20 years.
After that is the expiration date. When the cookie falls to pieces in spite of your efforts to put it back together. When all you are is a broke down Oreo that someone might want to eat, but why bother fishing you out of the glass when there is a perfectly good, perfectly new cookie sitting in the wrapping right next to them? No, you can just drown in the milk, breaking down further and further until all that exists of you is a queer brown tint. You've been used to make the milk sweeter. You purpose served, you sit, deconstructed, undesired, and you wait until the end when they will either drink you down, or pour you out.
The milk was only for the cookies anyway.
So you want the truth then? The truth is, despite knowing all this, all I want to do is be that beautiful cookie, soak up the heinous milk, and fall apart in the hands of someone who will leave me there. I want to be the best of them. I want them to love me so hard and so violent that they crash their cars into light poles, they leave their wife and children, they pay all my bills and sing odes to me in heartfelt and trite RnB songs. I want it all while I'm still young and can have it. Leave that feminist bullshit for when I get old and don't have any choice.
But I should know better than that. And I do. But how does one navigate themselves out of the reality they live in? In order to not be moving toward adoration, I'd have to ignore every ounce of media that comes my way. I couldn't look at people. I'd have to leave the house ugly and dare myself to feel something else. I'd have to do it everyday, until one day it's not scary anymore.
But when I come back to my reality, with a critical eye and a mind that's been trained to reject it, I can fall right back into old patterns in an instant by a single trigger. An article in a magazine. A Vh1 special on beautiful women. A handsome wealthy white man begging to turn me into a caramel Julia Roberts. But Julia had to fuck Richard before he could see...and what was it he fell in love with? Because I watched the movie several times, and it seemed like he fell in love with the redeeming quality of her pussy. That's and her one thousand watt smile. And...um...she was cute. In a clueless sort of way. She rescued him with pussy.
She was, like me, a pretty woman. And now that she is pushing on 40, she's almost dropped off the national tongue. She's no longer the flavor, to be replaced with younger less soggy cookies. She holds on for dear life, like the beauties before her, but all she could ever hope for now is an honorable mention. A flash of a picture from her past, the voice of an adolescent male saying "she used to be hot" or "I'd hit that 20 years ago." Soon she'll become the nurturer, the sweet comforting tint that will be used or thrown away, but that sits there. Waiting. Patiently.
Because what the fuck else is she going to do?