Disclaimer: I don't own any Azumanga Daioh characters.

Note: Might continue this one.

Beauty and Her Beast


Koyomi Mizuhara stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She was wet and the air was still thick with the steam from her bath. Around her ankles a light blue towel had pooled where she dropped it. Back straight, hands resting gently to the surface of the counter, she refrained from looking at anything but the brown of her own eyes.

The common opinion was that baths were the best part of the day. The bath was the time to unwind and forget about the outside world. For Koyomi, the bath was the worst. She, like any other person who partook of an evening bath, knew the subtle awkwardness of being nude and alone, a body bereft of cultural identification. The significance of the shape and form of the body became exaggerated through the cleansing process. The process was not so much an event, but rather a system whereby a person had no choice but to gain intimate knowledge of themselves.

Koyomi didn't have her glasses on, but she didn't need them in order to know what she was seeing. Brown hair, brown eyes, smooth skin wrapping the shapely hour glass frame of a developing young woman. Her own body.

Every girl was familiar with her own face. Only an individual's self scrutiny was capable was picking out every line and detail, every nook, curve, formation, freckle, and inevitable imperfection. Imperfections were human and ultimately inescapable. To make and have errors was nothing less than human, and therefore to lack defects meant to become less human.

Koyomi knew these things just as all people did. As it was applied to the human race, perfection was non existent, and yet millions of people continued their struggle to achieve it.

Get rid of all odor, get rid of all hair below the neck and leave no trace of stubble or grain. No dry skin, no chipped nails, no pale complexions. Pluck eyebrows, lengthen eyelashes, exercise to get rid of all body fat that could potentially provide depth where depth was not wanted. Lose the fat to lose all curves. Imbed plastic to create synthetic symmetry and bust size instead. Plastics make everything possible. Everyone can get rid of their faces and build new ones. Permanent masks to wear for the rest of their lives. The more work required, the less natural, the more beautiful. Anyone can be anyone but themselves if they so desired.

Natural was not a beautiful thing by common standards. For women, natural was hairy legs and arm pits, thick eyebrows, blemishes, and complexions based solely upon genetics, race and sun exposure. Natural meant no diets or exercising. What fat was burned during daily activities would be the fat burned period. Natural was natural. Natural was what a girl was born with.

Koyomi frowned. What were girls born with? What was anyone born with? She herself was not natural. She plucked, she trimmed, tanned, groomed, waxed, and most of all, she starved. Each individual was given their own metabolic code. Her metabolism was slow and therefore she compensated for it.

"What is this?" she whispered and lifted her hand to her reflection. The tip of her middle finger traced the image of her jaw, stilling just below her chin. She could be a beautiful body if the rest of the world just dropped its definition of what beauty was. Why should thin have been more attractive than thick? Too thin was not healthy, and too fat was not healthy. Even being slightly over the 'commonly healthy' line was something that people noticed.

She dropped her hand and glanced down to the counter top. The surface of the counter was covered with bottles of moisturizers, body creams, facial creams, foundation, and other items marketed for the purpose of helping women recapture the essence of their 'natural' beauty. Along side the bottles was a container of wax and a small bag containing the tools necessary for nail care and eyebrow shaping.

The bag was taken up and Koyomi unzipped it, reaching inside for the pair of cuticle scissors. She slipped two fingers in through the scissors' looped handles and turned the instrument this way and that for examination.

There was no hiding the fact that beauty was painful, and this notion was nothing new. People were often repulsed by the old Chinese tradition of foot binding. The thought that the feet of young girls were bound tightly over many years to create the three to five inch result, the Golden Lotus, was hard for many to grasp. The process was incredibly painful and left the girls crippled for life, all in the name of living up to what was considered beautiful at the time.

Contemporarily, foot binding was barbaric. However, painful manipulation of bodies in the name of meeting modern beauty standards was not. Koyomi remembered her first introduction into that torturous realm. She had been fitted with braces in grade school and worn them for four years, the first of which had been agony on her entire mouth. The result was a set of twenty four teeth, perfectly straight. However, straight teeth were not necessary for survival, and thus her entire ordeal with braces had been for cosmetic purposes only.

Koyomi lifted the miniature scissors to her face, pressing their tips against the skin of her cheek. If beauty was pain, then she should have been able to create her own standards of beauty. Standards that she could achieve. If the world knew that she had made herself bleed for the sake of being attractive then they would see her scar as something lovely. They would commend her for the lengths that she had taken. The gash would hurt worse than any waxing or purging or cosmetic surgery. She would be completely awake for it and she would be able to look at it in the mirror for the rest of her life and remember how important being beautiful was.

She dug the scissors further against her skin. Pain sparked out across her face, and then she pushed a little more. There was no reason for her to believe that the pain was unpleasant. Comeliness was key.

No sooner did the points penetrate her cheek than she suddenly dropped the scissors back onto the counter. At all once her breathing became heavy and her skin flushed from her face all the way down to her chest. She looked at the scissors, then back up to her reflection.

"Stop it."

She crouched down and grabbed up her towel from the floor. Wrapping the towel around her, she then reached for her glasses from beside the sink and perched them upon her nose. How cliché it seemed to her, a teenager inflicting injury upon herself due to stress and confusion. There were many people in the world less fortunate than she was. Disfigurations and illnesses of all sorts were out there, and the worst of them were the cases that happened to people who had once been perfectly average.

Koyomi's syndrome classified as an irrational obsession with details. The older she grew and the more her body developed, the more in-tuned she became about the minute aspects of herself as compared to other girls. For someone not in her position, her mannerisms were difficult to understand. How could it be that a normal looking teenage girl could look at her reflection and see nothing but the flaws?

She sighed as she left the bathroom. A gash on her face would have done her a world of good. The scar would have stood out as a blatant disfiguration and given her a reason to think the way that she did. At least then others would see what she had been seeing all along, the inescapable repulsiveness that was Koyomi Mizuhara.

Note: A very short snippet, I know. I do have a plot set up for this but, as it usually goes, continuation depends on motivation.