So, when was the last time that you really looked at yourself? I mean, look in the mirror at your hair and the waves or straightness of the fringe? Have you considered how the curve of your face is shaped or the thickness or narrowness of your lips. Have you examined where the colour on your face various and when was the last time that you looked into your eyes?

I realised when I was fourteen years of age and I tried to cover my eyelids with ‘blue shimmer’ that I was different from other girls. I mean really different, it wasn’t just that I was always trying so hard to please my parents, my grandparent and trying to fit in with the ideal of being a friend, it was that I thought differently to other girls. I was not giggly, I was not studious, I was not looking for a relationship with boys. I think that I realised that I was surviving and that when I placed my fingers in the pot of shimmer eye shadow that I should enjoy the experience of the action and the look when completed as I would not be like my school friends, enjoying the anticipation of the response from others telling me that my blue eyes stood out or that I was looking grown-up. No, for me the experience would be short-lived. The moment that I stepped out from the bathroom chaos would ensue. I would be noticed alright, but for the wrong reasons.

It is with a sad heart that when I now look back on that day with an adult’s eyes I can see that I was so hypersensitive to everything that went on in our home that I was very aware of the responses to my actions, even before I had taken them. I remember looking at my blue eyes and lashes covered in black and my pinched cheeks glowing before me and smiling. I had to enjoy that moment.

When I walked from the bathroom all I heard was the deep growl of my father’s voice… “you can take that muck off your face, right now.” I remember the lurch of my heart, as I understood that he was standing before me, his face was red and my mother was behind me and I could sense her nervous energy. I did what I was learning to do and that was stand my ground. The fact is that I washed the ‘shimmering blue’ from my face. I felt the tears falling down my face. I was old enough to look after my siblings, old enough to cook meals and manage the family washing in the twin tub on a Saturday morning, but I was not old enough to experience the joys of make-up.

This was a story from a chapter in my life, this story was revisited a number of times!