“You’re going to do great, Pam!” Dahlia, my younger sister wished me luck as mum handed me my script.

After quickly gulping down a glass of orange juice to wash down my breakfast, I waved them both goodbye as I walked to school revising my lines over and over again. As nervous as I was, it was still an exciting thing to be a part of.

“Today is the big day,” I thought.

After reaching school, I went straight to the auditorium and was awestruck as I looked around, hardly believing my eyes. The whole auditorium was transformed overnight: its rust coloured walls were draped in lilac and pink sheets, while the background wall of the main stage bore a series of pink and purple polka dots, contrasting the cardboard cut-outs of trees and the castle set in front of it. Our creative team, consisting of five of my friends, really had outdone themselves.

The stage was swept and every nook and cranny stood sparkling clean. All the props and mics were at their proper place and there were about a hundred seats filling the whole auditorium for the audience to sit upon. A large flower bouquet was set in the middle of the judge’s panel, standing in the centre of the room.

That was when a voice from deep within me reached out and asked me if I really wanted to fit in the moulds made by society on order to attain beauty?

The sound checks and last minute rehearsals had all been done the day before. Everything was perfect. The act of the play would go as smoothly as its preparations did, I hoped. I tried to be as optimistic as possible and buried any and all of my pessimist thoughts deep down inside of me.

I snapped out of my thoughts as the other actors of the play began to file into the auditorium, each of them reflecting an expression similar to mine. There were cheers and some nervous laughter.

I skimmed my way through the thin crowd and walked towards the area of the backstage that has been reserved for the actors of the play to change from their school uniforms into their assigned costumes.

“Hey Pam! How’re you feeling?” Jasmine, our narrator asked, me warmly as I walked past her on the way.

“Never been better,” I chuckled nervously as she smiled in response.

The act of the play was not the nerve-wracking part; the panel of judges whom I had to impress in order to secure a position in their drama society was. In the play, I would be playing the main character, a princess, who had to be saved by the prince, played by my friend Nathan, from the evil sorcerer, played by my best friend Kate.

I would be wearing a beautiful peach-coloured dress that would complement the settings of our play and the colour theme. Speaking of which, I really should get dressed in my costume by now.

I looked around the backstage-dressing area to find my dress. I skimmed through the vast array of a variety of sequin embedded and silky fabrics but, in my quick search around the room, I only found a few odds and ends, but no dress.

That is when the realisation crept upon me and I had to take in the ugly truth: I forgot my dress at home! I could not believe this! After all the preparations and anticipation and build-up, I was going to be the one responsible for the mess our play is going to be.

Tears clouded my eyes as my mind went blank and my vision fuzzy. I found my way back into the auditorium where all the other actors were already in their costumes.

“Pam, your dress?” questioned my drama teacher, Miss Jane.

“Miss, I can’t find it, I think I forgot it at home,” I cried as I felt guilt eating me from the inside.

To my surprise Miss Jane, hugged me and told me that it’s going to be alright, she told me not to worry and that we could make it work somehow. The news, however, had spread like wildfire amongst the other actors of the play and they all formed a supportive circle around Miss Jane and me.

We all agreed that it was too late to do anything and the only possibility was for me to wear a spare dress. I gasped, however, as I saw the spare dress in question. It was of a hideous blue colour with a yellow tinge to it, a few of its beads and sequins were falling off while the lace on the cuffs and neckline was barely hanging on by just a few strands of thread.

My heart beat fast against my chest, as tears brimmed my eyes once again, bile stirred at the base of my throat as my hands went sweaty. My vision blurred and my thoughts came out clouded.

“I can’t wear this,” I thought, “I would look hideous, the blue of the dress would never go well with my makeup or our props, the awful condition of the dress didn’t make the situation any better. I would look ridiculous wearing that, I would not look pretty enough to impress the judges. I would not feel beautiful.”

That was when a voice from deep within me reached out and asked me if I really wanted to fit in the moulds made by society on order to attain beauty? Do I really not want to give it a shot just because of the piece of fabric hanging on my body? Is beauty something as temporary as how you look?

“No,” I answered my thoughts; “I want to be judged because of my skills and inner beauty, rather than my outer one. No, I don’t want to enclose myself in the cage called ‘looks’, a cage made purely out of societal pressure. I want to prove my talent and worth by my own hard work and not by the influence of the aura of how I look.”

That was exactly what I did as I received a standing ovation from the entire judge’s panel, once the play was over for my part in the play and a place in their drama society — all while being in that rundown blue dress.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 27th, 2021

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