Your mother was always careful not to use store-bought beauty products with you. Rubber bands for hair ties, home-made shampoo, no make-up. At times, her cautious nature bordered paranoia.
On the dawn of your thirteenth year, however, your mother came to you and said she believed in self-determination and a woman’s right to make choices about her body for herself. She said she could no longer, in good conscience, make those choices for you. You were free to take care of your body however you saw fit.
You take your birthday money and run to the store. No more rubber bands pulling uncomfortably at your hair! You’ll get nice, comfortable, cloth-wrapped hair ties and a couple of clips. You complete your purchase and scurry home, taking a seat in front of the mirror in your room.
You tie your hair up in one of the hair ties then open the pack of metal hair clips you purchased. You snap the hair clip in place atop your head and the beauty industry has you.
Still gazing in the mirror, you notice cracks and imperfections in your 13-year-old skin. All that time outside in the sun has done some damage, you think. Better pick up some serious make-up on the next trip to the store or the boys won’t give you a second glance. You look too used-up and tired to give them what they want without a hell of a cover-up job.
You immediately obsess over your weight. You tear through the kitchen, throwing out all the food except for celery sticks and ice cubes. Then you chunk the celery sticks. That’ll keep those stubborn pounds off.
Your mother says it’s time to go to the movies and you rush to the closet to change. Not a single damned thing acceptable to wear hangs on the rack. Some make you look too fat, others too skinny, and some are just ugh.
Mom walks into the room and asks you what’s taking so long.
“I’M UGLY THAT’S WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG!” you scream at the top of your lungs.
Always the quick thinker, mom notices the stainless hair clip atop your noggin and springs into action, wrestling you to the ground and removing the mind-control device. She rushes to the kitchen and douses the hair clip in a cup of water, killing the tiny hypnotic robot that lives inside along with its data transmitter.
Your mother frowns and nods emphatically over the cup that holds the broken device. “Not today, beauty industry.”