i used to be afraid of makeup. i thought other girls were beautiful because they had learned it, i thought that if someone caught me sneaking lipstick into my pocket at the drugstore they wouldn’t be mad at me for stealing but for trying to audit a class i had no business being in. i thought that making an effort to make myself look like something i believed to be beautiful meant that admitting i was only an imposter. i am an expert at performing and failing at girlhood. once i bought a hairdryer the day before a slumber party so all of my friends would see it sitting on the dresser and let me into a club where girls suffered for hours each morning to make themselves “presentable.” i didn’t want them to know my hair was only frizzy because i was poor, and my mother was white, and we didn’t know yet that deep conditioner is the holy grail. i held onto to nuggets of dubious truth from teen magazines, boys don’t like girls who wear too much makeup, it’s all about confidence, someday you too will blossom. blossoming sounds so delicate and natural. if i ever blossomed, god knows it was a bloody fight. if it seems as though i love myself too much, it’s because even when i was very young someone made it clear that i wasn’t a person to be loved, i was something you could hurt. i thought other girls took lessons on being loved, something they learned from their mothers. my mother never loved herself, she couldn’t afford that kind of education. if it seems as though i love myself too much, let it be known that the classes weren’t free and i earned the grades myself. i will write summa cum laude in red lipstick underneath every iteration of my name.