I am so pretty that no one ever really sees me

They see these lashes so long and black,

hypnotising as they flutter past.

They see these brown eyes,

wide and doe-like, two deep wells of chocolate.

They fantasize about these lips,

plump and pink, scrunched in a pout.

They run fingers through this mane,

full and black, cascading down my back.

But they never see me, little and afraid

Slut… Slut! Slut!!! SLUT!!!!!!!!

How I have come to hate that word.
S.L.U.T. Four letters, one syllable, label. One girl started it, said it behind my back, whispered it as we filed out of the gates of school. And the Chinese whispers flowed, spreading from person to person, growing into this malevolent thing and clothing itself in falsely spun tales. They raised their voices just so I’d hear, rubbed it in and cackled as their lies stripped me of my dignity and honour. I ignored the sideways glances as boys to whom I’d been invisible sat up and began to take notice. Graffiti etched indelibly into the wood of my desk with a knife. A squiggly ‘WHORE!’ that screamed to remind me, when class sat in silence. A confrontation at the end of class in the quiet corner, Safiya spurred on by cronies and eager spectators. Fingers pointed, accusations laid at my feet. Shock held my tongue and silenced me. A slap, swift and unexpected. I hate to admit, I cried as she spat that vile word in my face to cheers and derisive laughter.

They came one after the other, to test out how ‘loose’ the slut really was. And she was loose, she surpassed expectations by far. Not that she didn’t know that they didn’t love her, that their lust drove them to her like flies to a wound. All she wanted was to prove them true, she’d given up on trying to change their perceptions of her. It didn’t matter if she rejected them, which she tried to do at first. She turned away the first, second and third. And they went back to their friends with victorious smirks on their faces.
“She was so easy,” they lied. “I didn’t even finish before she spread those beautiful legs.”
And they would cheer, they didn’t even doubt the tales, or wonder about the obvious holes therein. She hated her eyes and her hair, and how it drew them to her. How they never really saw past the alabaster skin and that suggestive smile. How she was wishing as one pulled her to the back-seat of his father’s new car that he’d notice her eyes shined with unshed tears.

They found me, these girls. Rhoda, chain smoker with the droopy eye. Nnenna, still a little chubby from her last child, Lotachi, class dullard, originally two years my senior.
“You’re the one they call slut, ehn?”
It was the first thing they said to me, I steeled myself for violence. Instead, a friendly nudge and an invitation to skip the class for some buka comfort food was offered. We sat and smiled and they talked between mouthfuls and slapped their thighs as the small shack rattled with their raucous laughter. They spoke so freely of their flaws and their fears, unshackled from the very things others sought to dangle over their heads. Then they grew silent as they noticed me watching.
“Close your legs, nne. Shut them tight.” Nnenna said with kinship in her eyes. “Open them only for the one you love, and not because he expects you to.”
The moment lingered for a moment and passed as they returned to their chatter, and I picked up my spoon and shovelled down my food. They didn’t even ask why or how, they just took me in. The slut had found her posse.

They pass by me in the halls and stare at me, unashamed. I feel like a hypocrite sometimes, when I feel rage or turn away in shame. The other girls avoid me, turning up their self-righteous noses or looking to the ground as they pass. The people I call my friends are shallow and petty and small. But they smile when I walk up to them and they are not ashamed to call me friend, the beautiful slut.

Beauty is affliction, it scars me from the rest

I only want to be ordinary,

To be no more, to have no less