The Student Literary Journal of Vermont State University

Wake up at 6 AM every day, rain or shine. If you’re tired, go to bed earlier, your bags look like Hell anyway. Cleanser–exfoliant–toner–eye cream–day cream–serum–moisturizer. Don’t complain, do you want clear skin or not? Rub away the dirt and the oil and any traces of whatever it is you call a life. You obviously don’t care about your face, but luckily Clinique does. Good God, are those laugh lines? You should know better! It’s fine, it’s fine, moisturize them for now and tell Dr. Cazwell that you have a new spot to add to your list of bimonthly injections. Get a move on, it’s 6:30! Throw on some BB Cream and mascara. You don’t look good, you definitely need more, but you almost look human and that will have to be enough for the gym.

Go straight for the elliptical, don’t bother with the weights. Your chin already makes you look like a man without adding on biceps. Just set it to the highest weight you can take, then go. Don’t stop until you feel your legs begging for mercy. You should’ve thought of this before you stopped counting calories. Keep your head down, you’re sweating like a pig and your face is just as pink. No, don’t stop! It’s only been forty minutes, you need at least an hour if you want to keep to a size 3. Fine, you can be done, but you’re coming back tonight and working your abdominals until they’re flat. It’s almost 8, so you’d better hurry home if you want to shower before work.

Throw your greasy heap into the shower, keep the water ice cold. Hot water dries out your skin, and you aren’t getting any younger. Shampoo your hair–just the roots. The edges are already split and dead enough without you helping anymore. Then conditioner, but only on the ends, you know how greasy your hair will be come this afternoon. Wash off your stink, lather the soap until you can’t see the red dots along your thighs or the bumps below your stomach. Rinse it all off, then dry yourself. No, not like that. Dab yourself with the towel, it’s better for your skin. 8:30 and you aren’t even dressed yet? The world isn’t waiting on you, princess!

Barely make it to work on time. Remember that it’s better to arrive late than to arrive ugly. Try to get a parking spot as close to the door as possible. At 80 degrees, you shouldn’t need to blot your oil field of a face until 2. Walk inside, go straight to your cubicle and don’t even look at the Dunkin’ Donuts cart in the lobby. Sit down at your desk, fix your hair that fell out of place on the stairs and use more mouse tomorrow. Time to get to work. 9:15, almost on time. Tomorrow you’ll be better.

Be confident. When your supervisor tells you that you take too long to type up documents, don’t let it get to you. Sure, you used to type 120 words per minute, but your stiletto nails are fierce, and 50 isn’t that much slower. Do you want to be like Sarah down the hall, fastest typist in the building with a serious case of man hands? I didn’t think so. So smile, tell him you’ll definitely work harder, then get back to poking at the keyboard like a starving bird. See that? Marcus is smiling at you! He never smiles at Man Hands like that. Don’t smile too wide, he’ll think you’re easy. But God, smile a little, you don’t want to seem stuck up! There you go, just a small smile, just enough to let him see how well you redrew your lips. He’ll walk away, back to his office, but don’t worry. He’s totally into you, and it’s only a matter of time until he caves. In the meantime, reward yourself with a drink from your SlimFast and get back to pecking at the keyboard.

Lunchtime will be tricky. You packed a green salad without dressing so you wouldn’t have to eat the high-sodium cafeteria food, so good job there. But there are other challenges to navigating the world of worktime foodstuffs. You don’t want to be lonely, but you don’t want to sit with someone that will tempt you with bad food. Sit next to Stacey from marketing; she’s nice enough and a vegetarian. You know the one, with the obviously fake blonde highlights. Chat with her for a bit, tell her about your beauty regimen. She’ll mention that she’s pregnant and recently engaged. The ring will be unimpressive. When she invites you to her baby shower, tell her you’re busy. Baby showers are rife with junk food, and there will likely even be a cake. Best to skip the experience and get in a good jog. Buy the baby a rattle and Stacey won’t mind.

Finish the greens and drink all of your forty-ounce water bottle. Your skin has been drying out lately and needs the boost. Stacey will offer you some of her pasta, but don’t take it. Vegetarian or not, it’s covered in cheese and carbs.. Just lie and tell her you’re a vegan. Leave lunch early and take a couple trips up and down the stairs; it will help burn off the calories before they settle in your ever-growing gut. Be careful, though, or you’ll start sweating, and perfume won’t cover all of your B.O. Keep going until you only have ten minutes left of your break, then go to the bathroom. First you’ll want to fix your makeup, then pull out the pills. Take the vitamin E capsules first, they’ll rejuvenate your skin. Then the 2000mg of Biotin so that your hair and nails will grow faster. Finish with the Estrace; this is the most important one. It’s an estrogen derived from mare urine. It’s prescription only, so just hope your mother doesn’t notice half of her hormones are missing. It’ll be worth it, though. The extra estrogen will optimize collagen production so your lips will stop looking like two individual strands of licorice, and you just might luck out and grow something bigger than a B cup. Put the pill bottles back in your purse and walk back to your cubicle before your manager makes his rounds.

The rest of work will be uneventful, just type along and avoid chipping a nail. When you leave, Marcus will stop you. He’ll give you that smile, the kind that makes you feel clean like you just had a sea salt body scrub. He’ll tell you he appreciates all of the effort you’ve been putting into your appearance lately, that you look amazing. He’ll say he wants to go out for pizza. You’ll suggest a nice sushi place that you know has great seaweed wraps, but he won’t like sushi. Argue with him about where you can both eat, eventually decide to just go bowling. Marcus will joke about eating nachos, make yourself smile. Go home and prepare for your date.

Primer-foundation-contour-highlight-powder-bronzer-eyeshadow-liner-mascara-lipstick. If it takes you less than an hour and a half, you aren’t doing it right. By the time you’re done you should have the slim features of a malnourished elf. It’s bowling, so don’t overdo it, but you don’t want to look homely, either. Settle on a dress with a long skirt and a plunging neckline. Wear that Wonder Bra so he thinks you have cleavage. You’ll have to change your shoes anyway, so kitten heels will be fine. You don’t want Marcus to think you don’t care about the date, do you? Of course not, now hurry up or you’ll be late when he comes to pick you up.

When you get in his Honda Accord, don’t be worried by his look of surprise. It’s just awe at how good you look. You deserve it. He’ll be in a button-up and jeans, but that’s okay. His biceps and dimples are more than enough to make up for his clothes. Make small talk on the drive there; work, the news, Stacey’s baby shower. He’ll tell you he’s going, suggest that you go together. You can handle a day of avoiding cake.

The bowling alley won’t be pretty, but that will only make you stand out more. Walk down the mismatched carpet and try not to stumble when your heels sink into it. When the clerk asks you your shoe size, lie and tell him you’re a seven. It’s only two sizes smaller and Marcus doesn’t need to know about your giant feet. Go to the lane, then squeeze your feet into the clown shoes. If they’re tight, push harder. They’ll be ugly, but that’s why you wore the long skirt. Pick a ball, something pink that doesn’t weigh too much. Marcus will go first. He’ll get a strike, naturally. When you throw your ball, you’ll break three of the nails on your right hand. It will hurt, but just smile through it. When Marcus asks if you’re okay, smile and tell him that looks aren’t important to you. It will make you seem down to Earth. When the date is over, go to the store and buy press-ons.

Marcus will want to talk about your goals, so lie and tell him that you want to go up the corporate ladder. He’ll like that you’re ambitious. When he tells you that he wants to be a professional basketball player, don’t laugh. He may be stupid, but at least he’s pretty, and that’s a lot more than you can say. Flirt. Ask him what kind of girl he likes. Don’t let it bother you when he says that he likes girls with natural beauty. You’ve probably fooled him into thinking you have it. Play the rest of the game, only hit a total of thirty pins. He’ll think it’s cute. Let him take you back to his place. He’ll want to have sex, and so will you, but this is dangerous territory. You’ll need a battle plan.

When you start undressing, mind the light. Don’t let him see the stretch marks raked like cat scratches across your stomach. Take off your bra before he has the chance. The less he sees of your bacne, the better. Besides, if he’s staring at your tits, he won’t notice the way the skin around your thighs sags. Make sure he feels good, and appreciate the view. He’ll be gorgeous and passionate, so he deserves to think he’s getting the same. The sex will be okay as long as you don’t bend forward; hide the rolls along your sides. When it’s done and he falls asleep, get out of bed. You need to be gone before he sees you without your face. Take a cab to Wal-Mart. It will be late, but you still need those press-ons.

No no no, don’t cry. This is good. Don’t you understand why you have to do all this? The late nights, the cold showers, it’s all so you can be your best you! Don’t you want smooth, clear skin? Don’t you want to have sex with attractive men? Yes, that’s right. Just breathe. You’re okay. You’re doing so well. You know it will all be worth it. This is what healthy feels like. This is taking care of your body. This is loving yourself.