I decided to choose beauty as this week’s topic, because that’s the first topic that came to mind when I thought about THE LIFE OF GLASS. In the book, the main character Melissa believes there are two types of people in the world – the outwardly beautiful people and inwardly beautiful people. Her mother and her sister clearly fall into the first category, as her mother was once a beauty queen, and her sister is a frequent beauty pageant contestant. But Melissa does not see herself as beauty queen material, nor would she ever want to. While her sister, Ashley, worries about make-up, becoming queen of the spring formal, and losing enough weight to be a size double 0, Melissa likes to wear baggy sweatshirts, she avoids make-up at all costs, and she worries about dying like her father did a few years earlier. But when a new beautiful girl moves to town, everything changes for Melissa, and over the course of her freshman year in high school, her ideas about beauty, life, and love are tested.
When I was writing the book, I thought back a lot to my own teen years and thought about my own ideas on beauty. I was not one of those beautiful girls like Melissa’s sister, certainly no pageant queen or even a pageant queen wanna be. But I do remember the idea of beauty being on mine and my friends' minds a lot as a teenager. When I was Melissa’s age, I knew girls who starved themselves to be thin and then fainted in gym class, girls who were made fun of by other girls for not being thin enough, girls who wore too much make-up and looked ridiculous, and girls who didn’t wear enough and were teased for being “ugly.”
And then there were those girls who always looked perfect. Who showed up every day at school, with straight shiny gorgeous hair that never fell out of place, girls who were tall and skinny and dressed in designer clothes and dated the most popular boys. I was not one of those girls. But I kind of always wondered about them, which is why I created the character of Ashley – just to see what would happen, just to see what she was really like.
But me, I was the girl with the always out-of-control curly frizzy hair. I thought a lot about my curly hair when I was writing the book, because even all these years later, even with a multitude of anti-frizz product and straightening devices, I still take issue with my hair. And it occurred to me, that maybe I wasn’t the only one, that maybe, for everyone, there is one thing, that one thing that makes us question our own outer beauty. Maybe that’s just part of what makes us human. Melissa and Ashley sprung from there, and this was also part of why my original working title for the book was “Beautiful.”
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