writings!: maybelline

steam rises like smog in the darkness. i do not know where it is going. my hair is wet at the ends, but my crown is still dry because the water is too hot to dunk my whole head into.

one of the four other girls in the hot tub kicks me underwater. edie. she’s so small her leg feels like a pool noodle, but it is colder than styrofoam. she kicks her way into the middle of the hot tub, where marion sits. marion is thirteen and angry. edie kicks marion. the underwater lights turn her body into a shadow, illuminates her baby teeth as she screams: “move, marion!”– with a lisp.

marion shoves her. edie grunts. camille laughs. camille is lying on the side of the hot tub, above the water. she is almost falling. but not quite. steady for now. the light does not reach her. her hair is stringy from the water. that is a guess. i cannot see her hair, but i know camille.

my sister is sitting quietly next to me. I cannot read her expression; her profile is a silhouette, but her infinitely long eyelashes stick out, flitting up and down once and awhile. she was born with them. or maybe it’s maybelline.

i sense she is vaguely annoyed. she does not like our cousins. they are too loud and mean and hurting.

marion stretches out her legs. she is tall and strong, with a face like her mother’s. dark eyelashes and light eyes. her feet almost reach the edges of the hot tub. they glow. “i’m fat,” she announces, chin pressed into the water.

the hot tub boils over with words. “no, you’re not,” I say the exact same time as my sister. “i’m fat!” edie parrots, jumping out of the water, and pinches her tadpole belly. camille laughs again. “you’re beautiful,” i say to edie and marion.

marion groans. “i’m not. i don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“i have a boyfriend!” edie yells. camille smacks her. “no, you don’t,” she says. edie frowns. “i do!”

marion looks at me. “she’s lying,” she says, loudly matter-of-fact. her chin sinks further into the water. “marion.” i say. “marion. you’re thirteen. it’s normal to not have a boyfriend.”

she doesn’t respond, instead slips underwater completely. “no,” says camille. “there’s girls at our school who have boyfriends. so many. and they wear shirts that are like, up to here.” she touches her ribs. “and tiny tiny shorts. and they do it on purpose. for boys.”

“boyfriends,” edie corrects from the darkness.

marion bursts out from under water, water streaming from her nose and lips and hair all at once. her eyes pop open. they are glassy. maybe it’s the light. maybe she was born with it. maybe it’s maybelline.

edie cannonballs into the middle of the hot tub. marion yelps, eyes closing fast. camille screams. my cousins are loud. they speak like balloons. bright and bloated and empty.  

“don’t slut shame,” i say, a little late.

“we’re not,” says marion. “it’s just the truth.” she takes another breath and collapses underwater.

this morning i put on mascara. i don’t know why. i did it in the bathroom, in the big mirror above the porcelain sink, cleaner than anything. i knew i wasn’t going to see anyone i cared about. but i did it anyway. habits are hard to break.

but i can feel it running off my face now. the water gives me racoon tears. i rub my smallest finger along my left eyelid, feel makeup come off. my eye stings from the chlorine. it stings from girlhood and hormones that we ooze. it stings from voices cracks. it stings from boys and my sister’s strawberry shampoo. it stings from jealousy, it stings from everything that seeps out of my cousin’s pores and swirls into the hot tub all at once.

it stings from my mascara.

fire using water like gasoline. we are all stabbing blindly with eyeliner at our faces in darkness.

i am tired.

we are so, so, tired.

maybe we were born that way. maybe it’s maybelline.


Opinion: An Open Letter To Donald Trump, From A Teenage Girl


Dear Mr. Trump,

I am a teenager, part of a demographic commonly overlooked due to assumptions of our decision-making ability, of our capacity to understand, of our age and presumed lack of maturity.

I also identify as female, part of a demographic commonly overlooked due to many, many years of prejudice, sexism, and people like you.

You say that you are the solution. You say that you alone will Make America Great Again. But what I don’t understand is how the hell you can utter those words when your slogan suggests reverting back to an earlier time– ‘Great Again?’ When was this country greater than it is now? The 1950’s?

You say that you will stop terrorism. I just looked up the definition of this word, the one you use so often. It is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”.

Sound familiar?

To many of my friends and peers, you are more of a terrorist than anyone else. You intimidate minority groups, refugees, claim you will rip their families apart and send them far, far away for the color of their skin. You say this with a pride that comes from knowing this will help you with your “pursuit of political aims.”

I saw a picture of you holding a rainbow flag inscribed with the words “Lgbt for TRUMP”. You looked happy, if not a bit smug.

Your running mate, Mike Pence, (who reminds me of a slab of meat, for some reason, not that it’s relevant) has advocated for conversion therapy for those who do not identify as straight. If you don’t know what that is, it is essentially where you hook up wires to someone’s head and electrocute them into being heterosexual. Obviously, this is a harmful, ineffective, and scarring process, and it is considered extremely inhumane. As someone who identifies as bi, I can assure you that I do not want to be shocked into being straight, and neither does anyone else, ever, and if they do, then that’s the problem–not their sexuality. You chose Mike Pence as your running mate, therefore you believe in his ideas. You clearly  do not support anyone in the LGBTQ+ spectrum, despite how many rainbow flags you hold.

Gun control. You support the second amendment, and you do not believe in background checks or gun safety laws. Your solution to the countless shootings every day by people who have a gun but shouldn’t is, simply, More Guns. Because if there’s More Guns, then obviously you can just shoot the person who was gonna shoot you, whoop de fucking doo, problem fucking solved! Yay!

The United States has the highest gun-caused homicide rates in the world. According to one statistic, these gun-caused deaths are quadruple the number of the ones in Canada, which has the second highest gun-related deaths in the world. Google it, it’s insane. And you will do nothing to help this; you’ve admitted it yourself. You don’t see a problem at all, not after Sandy Hook, Pulse, nothing.

Lastly. Maybe even most importantly. Your positions on women. Where to begin?

You have had five children by three wives. All of them have been young. All traditionally beautiful, these golden women, the kind you see in patriotic paintings, advertisements, the God Bless America types, busty, classic, dutiful, etc, etc. They each fill out the Ideal Wife stereotype. You use and have used them like props, dolls, something to show off your success.

And then there’s the rape allegations, by a woman who claims you assaulted her when she was younger than me. Thirteen. Most thirteen-year-olds are in eighth grade, just FYI. She dropped the suit after she got one too many death threats from your supporters.

There’s the tape that somehow didn’t destroy you and your campaign. Grab them by the pussy, you said, laughing, as if sexual assault was funny.

There’s the fact that you want to take away women’s abortion rights. You want to have control over what we do with our bodies.

There’s the countless beauty pageants you’ve run. You were a judge. You examined women’s looks and decided if they were pretty enough to win. You bullied the losers relentlessly.

There’s the women you called a cow after she gained too much weight for your liking.

And there was one particular woman–a strong, independent, confident woman– you called nasty.

Do you know what this tells me?

It tells me that I exist only to be a man’s accessory, if I’m hot enough. It tells me that you will do nothing for my empowerment. It tells me that my rights as a woman don’t matter to you. It tells me that I was right to have an eating disorder because my looks are the only thing that count, and if my weight exceeds your standards of pretty, I’m nothing. It tells me that you don’t give a fuck about me or what I’m worth. It tells me what women have been told for thousands of years. We are nothing but pussies on legs, yours to control, yours to have, yours to win, yours to grab.

I am so, so much more. We are so, so much more.

And if you don’t understand that–if you can’t acknowledge that–you are not my president. You are not our president.

Today, nearly my entire school–Berkeley High–walked out on you. We walked out on the fact that you won the 2016 election, we walked out on your racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic bullshit. But most importantly, we walked out to show our love.

We walked as one. We celebrated our diversity, our unity, our community. We walked to show the world that we will not be silent.

There’s a kid who sits in front of me in my math class. He often wears a red sweatshirt that has a quote on the back:

“Respect existence or expect resistance”.

I think that’s pretty accurate. If you don’t acknowledge anyone other than straight white rich men as humans, if that’s your America, if that’s who you’re going to make Great, then we will not stop fighting.

I am a teenager. I was unable to vote in this election. But the winner–you–will decide my future.

Decide wisely.

Respect existence or expect resistance.

Because we have more power than you think. And we are not afraid to fucking use it. Thank you.


A teenage girl, and those whom she is trying to represent.