She stared into the mirror. She’d happily leave the home as she was. Okayish. But okayish would not be enough today. Would not get her the money she needed. Today, it would have to be the stop & stare look. She needed people to stare to pay the electricity tonight. The shift in the cafe would not be enough, after she had to get the new pill yesterday. So if she did not want to sleep in a freezing room again — in the dark — she would have to put the effort in now. Since the XRAY glasses and lenses had become so cheap that nearly everyone had one, she had earned steady money through the WATCH-Beauty feature. A friend had told her to register and from that moment she got money from everyone looking at her. As soon as she could get people’s eyes to rest on her for more than 5 seconds, money came in. And the longer she got people to stare at her, the better.
So, she went with the full monty: the long and shiny hair that flowed around her and made the girls stare with envy. The elegant make-up that took her all morning but got her that how-does-she-do-it-look. The short dress that got everyone staring and wondering if she was wearing anything underneath. Which she did. The ‘family-friendly’ badge in her account gave her a lot of extra views. The girls that gave her the I-hope-to-be-like-her-when-I-grow-up-look would not count if she got into the over-18 corner. Yes, the guys payed a bit extra for that, but she got a lot of her income from the envy of women.
As every look counted it was a dog-eat-dog-world out there. She had heard horrible stories about all the girls who could not stand the competition. And those who could not stand the looks. She had been lucky so far. There had been days when the comments wore her down. A constant stream of complaints, requests for sexual acts of all sorts or gross insults. Projected directly onto her lenses as passers-by send comments to the person they saw. She had tried muting it, but for her it was better to know than to guess. She responded rarely and tried to keep herself to herself. So far she was far from these poor girls who felt like they could take it no more and disappeared off the grid. However that happened. But she could feel it taking its toll. She wanted to be on her own. Wanted not to do this anymore. Wanting to look just okayish.
Right, she stared into the mirror again. The person she was now stared back. Put on a smile as fake as her looks and stepped out of the door.