She was quite young, really, no more than 26 or 27. She had been out in the working world a few years, and she’d enjoyed finding her voice, showing off her skills, proving herself intelligent, making sure others know she wasn’t just attractive.
She was attractive. She’d been dogged by it for years. Using the term “dogged by it” might seem rather insulting to the plain, to the unattractive. But she’d found it wasn’t easy to be pretty. When she was a child, people stopped her mother on the streets to comment on the curls, the blue eyes, the cute little freckles.
In high school and college, it was more of the same. Strange men would approach her, then, and she wouldn’t have her mother around to fend them off. She had to learn those skills herself, and she became rather adept at brushing unwanted attention away, at curling her lip just so, at striking a bored-to-no-end pose. Some might have seen it as conceit, as playing hard to get, as being self-centered, but it really wasn’t like that at all.
She’d thought she’d have an easier go of it once she was surrounded by colleagues, professionals, men who were driven by their work and not by the scent of her. But she had found it wasn’t like that at all. It hadn’t dissipated. And, oh, how she’d complained to her friends – real and imagined – about what she'd had to go through to be seen for her merits inside. The real friends had rolled their eyes behind her back. The imagined ones had laughed out loud to her face. She really couldn’t get any respect.
Years later, she has finally figured out how to be considered for who she is inside, not who she is outside. She wears a mask of crow’s feet, and lines around her mouth, and age spots. She wears a costume of veiny hands, wobbly forearms, sagging breasts, varicose veins, and many, many scars of accidents from her gymnastics and cheerleading days.
And, while it’s true that they no longer pay attention to her because of her looks, it turns out they also no longer pay attention to what she says, what she thinks. The mask of old age turns out to be a mask of invisibility.
[I am not the woman described. Or at least I wasn't the woman without the mask and costume.]
[Read what others have to write when it comes to the prompt of masks.]