Tall. Thin. Blonde. Beautiful.

Tall. Thin. Blonde. Beautiful. Everything a girl wanted to be. When you are this way you can treat people with certain expectations. It’s justified. Obviously you were meant for something better than them.

Or so you tell yourself.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to realize you were wrong even though you wouldn’t admit it. You were so rooted in the need to be accepted, I’m not sure that you see the error. Instead, you continued your judgmental ways. Stubborn and proud as ever, desperately clinging to your popularity.

I hoped you would change your attitude. I hoped you would see that things could be better. We had been friends once, close friends. But that was when I was like all the other girls that befriended you. I wanted to be you.

It took time, like I was under a twisted spell, for me to realize that I couldn’t be happy with who I was when I stood beside you. I was beautiful, but you refused to let me see it. You made sure that I stayed out of your light, pushing me further down and reminding me that I wasn’t good enough.

I never understood why. Once I hoped the girls liked me for me, but you were quick to remind me that they were only my friends because of you. I was worth something because of your friendship. I was popular because you chose to be my friend. Maybe people wanted to be me so they could be close to you. That’s what I thought because that was what you made me think.

Then I met Neil. He wasn’t someone you would date. He wasn’t in our group of friends. He wasn’t one of the cool guys. He was perfect for me. He smiled when he saw me, his words were always kind, he helped to build me up and reminded me that I was worthwhile and that I was someone special.

You hated him and his quiet, nerdy ways. You pushed him away, and I let you. Your judgmental opinion was important to me. I wanted your friendship above all. I was led to believe - like many girls were - that you were perfect, that my life was incomplete without your love, without your approval, and in a way it was. I fought hard to stay at your side. When you smiled at me, I felt wanted. When you turned away, I was hurt and desperate to regain your affection.

Neil didn’t understand. Why did I care so much about what you thought? Why did you have such power over my life, my feelings? I couldn’t answer him; I wasn't certain that I understood.

Now you stand there staring through me like I was nothing; like we were never really friends. Your thin lips are pursed; your expression annoyed. You drum your French manicured nails against the counter.

"You don't have with it takes," you say. Your cold words hurt.

That’s when I realized that you never took me seriously. You only put me down. Changing was something I had to do on my own. You wouldn’t help me; you didn’t want to.

I decided months ago I wanted to grow and be happy with me. You confronted me when you first noticed my change and called it betrayal but I never lied to you. You knew from the beginning what I wanted. You swore we couldn’t be friends if I didn’t fall back in line behind you. You swore I would be nothing without you, that my popularity would fade.

Change was what I wanted. I couldn’t let you take it away. I never wanted to ruin our friendship, but as I let the insecurity dissolve I realized it wasn’t my choice.

You never cared about me. You only wanted to be my friend so you could overshadow me. And it worked, until now.

I forced myself to see why I didn’t need you. You made me focus on the negative when the positive was just out of my reach, making me believe I was nothing when I could have been something.

You were sure everyone loved you when in reality everyone hated you. None of the girls wanted to be your friend; they all liked me better. This was something you hoped I wouldn’t realize, something you tried to keep hidden forever.

So now it’s come down to you and me. Opposites as we’ve always been. If I let you win, I’ll be lost forever. But if I can break free - if I can be myself - then maybe I can win.

I close my eyes and draw a long breath. When I look in the mirror my face is pale, my hair long and dark. No blonde in sight. I glance at my fingers as they drum against the counter. They are finished with short, pink nails. Your French manicure is nowhere to be seen.

I twist a strand of thin hair around my finger, hating the flat texture. I feel the criticism creep back up inside me and I’m almost certain my hair begins to fade.

I drop my hand; I look away. I tell myself I’m happy. I tell myself I'm enough without you. I tell myself that you don’t help me anymore.

Even though I’m nervous that being myself isn’t enough, I take another deep breath and smile. I must remind myself its fine. I can’t let you take over who I am anymore. You are nothing more than my own insecurity, a mean girl telling me I’m not enough.

But you’re wrong. You’ve always been wrong and I’m only now discovering it.

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