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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I, the Ugly Duckling.

This post is based on this week's RemembeRED prompt, which was:
Everyone remembers that first inspiration or mentor in their lives that made them want to be or do something in their lives, whether you actually followed through with it or not. Tell us about that inspiration/mentor. How did they affect or change your life!  Let's keep your posts to 500 words or less.

I, the Ugly Duckling

There is a time in every girl's life when she wakes up not caring about how she looks and by the time she goes to bed that night, it's all she could think about.

For me, it happened when I was fifteen.

My mother had been nagging at me for weeks to pay more attention to how I looked.  “A little bit of make-up would do you a lot of good,” she kept on saying.  I ignored her. 

I knew that my mother was beautiful because people told me that all the time.  I also knew that I did not look like her.  My mother always looked her best.  She would tease her hair at the crown and curl up her eyelashes even if she was just going to bed.  Her bathroom drawers were filled with rows of make-up, hairbrushes, and beauty creams and lotions.  I treated them with fascination, but never with interest.

One day, my mother had tea at her friend’s house, where she met her friend’s 16 year-old daughter named Claire.  By the time she got home, my mother could not stop talking about her.  Apparently, Claire was not only smart and brilliant, but she was also a beauty. 

I had always been smart and brilliant.  Even my mother would agree to that.  But nobody, most certainly not my mom, had ever called me a beauty.  I would not have thought twice about Claire if she was only a beauty.  But Claire was both: smart and beautiful.  Right there and then I decided to hate Claire, whom I never met before.

Weeks later, the same friend had once again invited my mother for tea.  This time I was to come along, because wouldn’t it be wonderful if her daughter and I became friends!  I was NOT excited to meet the smart and beautiful Claire.  I already decided to hate her, remember?  Plus, with my mother launching her usual tirade against my hair and my wardrobe choice, I was nervous.

I knew it was Claire the moment she opened her door.   

She was everything my mother said, and more.  Claire wasn’t drop dead gorgeous, but she knew how to dress herself up.  Suddenly I noticed her perfectly arched eyebrows, the eyeliner that emphasized her eyes, the tint of mascara over curled eyelashes, the hint of pink blush on her cheeks, and the pearly lip gloss on her lips.  She wore a simple cardigan set with capri pants.  I was star-struck.

When I got home that day, straightaway I looked for my mother’s cosmetics.  For the first time, I saw the endless possibilities they offered.  I went to bed that night thinking about how I could dress myself up, how I could be both smart and beautiful, and how I could finally have a chance with Peter, this cute boy with dimples that was on my yearbook team.   

I never saw Claire again until a few years ago, at a friend’s wedding.  At first she didn’t recognize me, but then I introduced myself.  I told her she had inspired me, and even though in the beginning I had many more failures than success (just ask my Mother, she had the pictures to prove it), it had all been worth it.  This time, it was Claire’s turn to gush, “But you’re so beautiful!  I just couldn’t picture you any other way.”       

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