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May 2014
When I was seven, my best friend and I used to dress up and have tea parties. We wore the torn, hand-me-down dresses from my cousins like they were gowns straight out of a princess’s wardrobe, and we were beautiful. We would prance around my room with purple plastic teacups, and there was no better place to dine than the blue **** carpet from Goodwill.

When I was seven I wanted to be a dancer. Not just a ballerina, no. I wanted to do everything. I watched with rapt attention as my cousin’s modern class tumbled to the floor of the stage, and as I stared at their neon colored tank tops and black jazz pants, it seemed that my world made sense. It seemed that as long as I was there on stage, dancing with the same skill and emotion and passion, I would be beautiful.

For my eighth birthday, my friend gave me the sixth Harry Potter book. My favorite character was Hermione. At recess, we would tie the sleeves of our red uniform sweaters around our necks and run around the blacktop pretending to play Quidditch. I thought Harry was smart and cunning and funny, but Hermione. Hermione was full of enthusiasm and rules and always made friends even if they were only in her head. She was top of her class with hair that everyone noticed and her brain was bigger than her group of friends at lunch and that was okay because she was like me. I never thought Hermione was beautiful. She didn’t need to be. Her bushy hair was full of intelligence and her buck teeth were strong enough to bite off the tongues of her oppressors and her dull, brown eyes weren’t dull at all because even the Whomping Willow began as a patch of dirt.

Hermione wasn’t beautiful like a garden. Her fiery eyes were dancing with flames that could wipe out an entire forest without even breaking a sweat. I have never wanted to be beautiful like a garden or the sunlight on the Fourth of July. As I tumble onstage in a blue dress with a tear in the front, my feet are ***** and my palms are sweaty and not one girl has brushed her hair. Footsteps pound the floor like a mighty pride of lions and hearts race as the bass drops and I am not a garden. Don’t you dare call me beautiful.
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