“Mama said, you’re a pretty girl
What’s in your head it doesn’t matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters”
As I heard the first few lines of Beyoncé’s pretty hurts, I smiled, just like every other time I heard it. It was almost like I wrote some lines out of that song.
Sitting in my dressing room putting finishing touches on my make up with about twenty five minutes left until my appearance, I allow my mind drift back.
I was raised by my single mom, a stripper; I doubt she even knew who my father was. I basically grew up at the club; by the time I was old enough to walk, my mother would take me along with her to work and I would sit in her dressing area and watch in bewilderment as she wore her ridiculous make up, skimpy clothes and then rushed off into the club.
My mother was a druggie, she was constantly under the influence of one drug or the other. She was proud of her profession and made it no secret at the club that she also wanted me to be a stripper like her. She told me that I was beautiful and that’s all I’ll ever be. She said girls like me didn’t grow up to be doctors or lawyers or even wives. She said girls like us, me and her, were born to be the other women, born to offer solace to men running away from the women we were not, born to entertain and born to be promiscuous.
I started taking ballet lessons at a very tender age, and by the time I was 14, I was a very good dancer. My mother personally taught me pole dancing and many other exotic routines. Because of my knowledge of ballet, I soon became better at the pole, than my mother.
I never wanted to be a stripper, my childhood dreams were of becoming a dentist but I never even finished high school. My mom overdosed when I was 19. The owner of the club where my mother worked Persuaded me to come work for him. At first I refused, but soon the hunger pangs drove me to the club.
“You have 10 minutes left.
I look up and see Charice, one of the club managers, poking her head into my dressing room.
“Alright”, I reply curtly.
I am always curt with my employees. In such a profession, it’s easy to get disrespected. I’m something like a queen around here, it is my club after all, they all look up to me. I’m the best exotic dancer in these regions and people travel from far and near to watch me dance.
Beyoncé is still singing. I had set the song on repeat.
“Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
A number of times, I dream about another life. A life were I was born in a normal home to normal parents and lived a normal life, you know, high school, college, marriage, kids. A life were I was probably a dentist.
But other times I am genuinely happy with what I have built here. This is my home, this is my family, this is my kingdom. I have worked hard and now I own my own exotic dancing club where the girls are not mistreated, raped, harassed or dehumanized. We are not drug addicts, in fact I see to it that regular drug tests are carried out on the dancers. Here in my club, I have changed the prior disrespectful profession of stripping into something classy.
I adjust my thigh highs, strap my 7’5 work shoes and apply my signature blood red lipstick. Standing up, I walk to my full length mirror and stare at my perfect form.
This is my reality. This is my life now. There’s no escape. I was born for this. I am the best at what I do.
“Aurora, your fans are ready”
“Please hurry.” She added and rushed off.
“When you’re alone all by yourself
And you’re lying in your bed
Reflection stares right into you
Are you happy with yourself
It’s just a way to masquerade
The illusion has been shed
Are you happy with yourself
Are you happy with yourself”
As the last lines of the song play, I apply glitters to a few parts of my body and walk out of the dressing room, into the club and onto the stage.
Immediately, the spotlight finds me, there’s a deafening cheer from the crowd. People are screaming and clapping.
Yes, they love me.
Yes, Beyoncé, I am happy with myself.