Photo Caroline Marsh

When I was twelve years old,

it felt like looking at myself in the mirror

for the first time


I didn’t know how to explain

that nauseating feeling

until I was around eighteen


At first, I thought it was

my weight, or how a number

looked like on my body


Then, I thought it was

my face, and the features

white people call ugly


And while

those were all there,

in some ways


I realized, at eighteen,

that all this time

I had been pretending


To be skinny,

To be pretty,

To be a girl,


I had been pretending,

through the cracks of my teeth,

through the gaps in my blinds


I realized that I was jealous

of most girls

for being better than me at pretending


But they weren’t pretending

to be pretty girls,

and they didn’t get it


They didn’t get that nauseating feeling

when you look in the mirror

and you know that what you are looking at


Doesn’t reflect who you really are.

This article originally appeared in The Body Issue, published February 1, 2022.