7 December 2012

6.59am by Tess McPhail

6.59am by Tess McPhail (17)


Alarms sound and an army of women prepare for battle.

Make-up is their war paint, fashion their armour.


Amidst clouds of steam and doubt

The bathroom mirrors impressions of women:

Hair stuck to cheeks and a face that looks like skin.

They are bare. They are flawed. They must be fixed.


They raise their weapons and prepare to fight.

Attacking blemishes with concealer

And combating ugliness with the perfect rouge.

They need to feel wanted, as beauty is a currency that conquers.


Obedient soldiers patrol the streets,

Their bodies are hooted and honked at,

Men applaud their faultless facades.

Living beneath the disguise of approval—

They say obsession with conformity

Makes the greatest warriors.


Declaring war on what is within,

Willing to go without.

Illusions are policed and rules rarely broken.

They search for security at cosmetic counters,

And believe everything they’re missing

Can be bought in bottles and jars.


But the enemy within takes hostages,

She locks them in cages of bones

With a funhouse mirrors

Or plays cruel tricks with time,

Setting grays and gravity upon them.

Wasting away,

They chase a mirage of beauty.

In envy of the youthful ranks below,

They turn to the knife,

To buy their own private mask.


The battlefield is scattered with casualties of the self-loathing,

In the home, the waiting room and the office.

Tomorrow, schoolgirls will join countless women in their march

But in this crusade they cannot not know victory.