The Female Dresser

By: Amanda Smiley

Major: English & Spanish

Year: Senior

Hometown: Denver, CO


If you’re a female, you probably have a dresser. My dresser is a manifestation of myself in a myriad of horcruxes, a collection of glass and plastic and small items that look like my own little city model of streets and cars and buildings and back alleys. A dresser is something to hold your clothes in, with some space on the top for your decorations. Sometimes, it has a mirror to help you pick out your outfit for the day, to remind you of what you look like in case you forgot since you went to bed last night.

My dresser also holds lip gloss, among other things, like a vase of flowers bursting with yellow and white. The green stalks stretch far up the neck of the vase and bend slightly as the pedals spread. Each flower is her own tall self, reaching upwards, and as I gaze at the fresh flowers I keep in my room simply for the sake of fresh flowers, the mirror I have hanging above that dresser shows me my own legs, my own neck. They’re long and tall, but defined, strong, and not like the green stalks. Not like them at all.

And my neck looks stubby now as I stare a bit longer. My dresser is the home of my necklaces, too – my favorite gold chain with a pearl at the end, the silver “7” necklace my best friend once made me, the antique my mom found at a market and thought her daughter would look “pretty” in. The dresser holds those, too. And they might look even better on another girl whose neck stretches forever, like a beanstalk reaching for the sun.

But no sun grins above my head this morning. All that’s above me is an ugly, white ceiling. And my neck looks stubby and short.

If you keep moving up from the neck, you find the face. Don’t worry – the dresser has something for that, too. The makeup tray is stocked full of blacks, browns, creams, powders, lip sticks and glosses and more and more of “not me” falsehoods I, a woman, wear like a badge, like a membership card that tells the whole world, as if people couldn’t tell, “I am a Woman. See? I’m wearing makeup.”

And there are girls who tell me, “Don’t wear makeup to impress others; wear it for yourself, to feel good.” But I honestly don’t know why I wear makeup, why the Woman wears makeup, because if it shouldn’t be for others, and the woman wears it for herself, why is she asking herself to wear it anyways? Is she, herself, asking her to thicken her eyebrows with a pencil because it’s fun? Because society likes them that way? I have short eyelashes and thin lips and a pointy nose. I have acne sometimes. Is that why I wear makeup for myself?

“She would be really pretty if she just put a little makeup on.”

“Did she dress herself in the dark?”

I do have makeup on my dresser. I have perfume. I have dangling sets of earrings I never wear and Q-tips and extra buttons and a scrap of paper my friend painted for me that reads, “In your presence is fullness of joy.”

And I have a dresser. The dresser mocks. It sneers and whispers under its breath. It offers me pieces of my public self: a new pair of earrings, a spritz of perfume for your stubby neck and not-slender wrists, a new bottle of “Lash Blaster Mascara” for the eyelashes you don’t have.

If you’re a female, you probably have a dresser.