Medusa struggles to let someone hold her femininity in their hands. She fears opening herself up, showing the most sacred part of herself to a room that sees her snakes as a poor excuse for what a woman is supposed to have.
Though my mom would hold my eyebrow skin taught, when I looked in the mirror, I’d smile at myself. Not because I thought I looked better — or fundamentally different, even — but because I felt better. I felt like an adult. I felt like a woman. And I felt brown.
Saying I “grew up ugly” doesn’t mean I was ugly — it meant that I never quite fit in the way other people did, and that's especially difficult when you have been forced to adapt to different standards of beauty your whole life.
And looking back to the young girl who secretly shaved her legs, I see a girl who just didn’t know how to exist in a body that seemingly developed overnight. But most importantly I see a girl who thinks she is anything but beautiful. I see a girl who was wrong.
I tell her I used to wear makeup because I felt bad about my face, but I stopped because wearing makeup felt like covering it up rather than learning to accept it. It's the same argument I made to my mom and grandma. The same argument I still make to myself.
I didn’t believe I had anything to say that would spark someone’s genuine interest in getting to know me, so I relied on my outfits to do the heavy lifting. Then I discovered a new social skill to add to my toolbox: Compliments.