Carrie stood before the bathroom mirror putting the finishing touches on her makeup before rushing off to the county fair with her girlfriends. Just a bit of lip gloss and one more swipe of the hairbrush and she was ready to go.

Carrie heard the horn blow as the girls pulled in the driveway, and she grabbed her sweater and yelled to her mom still in the kitchen.

“Bye mom, I’ll be home by eleven.”

“Be careful,” her mom called out. Carrie, Katie,

Clair, and Meghan scurried from booth to booth as the carnival barkers drew them in. They watched boys humiliate themselves with attempts to fire rifles at metal foxes running across a black backdrop, shoot basketballs into hoops that seemed strangely small, and bang a giant hammer to prove who was the strongest among the bunch. The girls tried their hands at throwing darts to pop balloons, casting rings over old milk jugs, and tossing balls in slanted straw baskets. After eating a pink sticky cloud of cotton candy, the girls wandered over to various side shows.

“Come one, come all,” the barker called. “Step right up and see yourself as you’ve never been seen before. The House of Mirrors, sure to entertain and amuse. Step right up.”

“Come on in, little lady,” the dark man with greasy black hair and toothy grin motioned to Carrie. She shivered and wanted to turn and run away.

“Let’s go in here,” Katie said. “This’ll be fun.”

Carrie was whisked away with the crowd and lured into the first mirrored room. Elongated reflections stared back, and the girls giggled at the taller, thinner versions of themselves. In the next room, they doubled over in laughter at their stubby arms and legs, expanded torsos, and chubby cheeks. They struck various poses and got a taste of what midget versions of themselves might look like.

The girls then ran to a third room, but Carrie stayed behind. She was silent as she stood mesmerized at what she saw staring back at her. Words began to appear across her chest, fading in and out in various scripted forms. Worthless. Unloved. Ugly. Stupid. Unacceptable.

Sharon Jaynes. “I’m Not Good Enough”…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves (pp. 7-8). Kindle Edition.