Pretty: Excerpts from Chapter 16

…In first grade I often stood in front of the double dresser that was in my bedroom facing the mirror that hung above it. I stared as hard as I could but I could not see myself. I could only see the light reflecting on the mirror and I said to myself, “Would have been such a pretty girl.”

I felt so bad. Why was I blind? What had happened to me? Some kid said my right eye looked white with red in it and the other eye had a little blue. I pulled on my eyelids by the eyelashes just to have some contact with my eyes.

I thought about what my nine-year-old friend Maureen said sometimes. “You would have been a really pretty girl if you could see.” Or what my eight-year-old friend Carol said to me, “Your eyes look bad, but, oh, well…”

Anytime someone wanted to take my picture, I turned my back to the camera. I spent countless hours trying to see myself in that mirror. I have never recovered from my unhappiness over the blindness and the disfigurement. It was seemingly more than I could deal with and yet I have dealt with it.

Sometimes I thought about the witch in Snow White: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

As I grew older I realized the importance of appearance in women’s lives. Women constantly look in mirrors to reassure themselves that they look okay.

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