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She looked at the mountain despondently. It wasn’t as big and grand as the mountains in the advertisement. Something about its shape didn’t feel quite right – it irked her. 

What a waste of time to have come here. 

She thought about all the people having a better time gazing at a truly majestic mountain, and her mood sank lower. 

She didn’t enjoy the freshness of the air or the coolness of the breeze. She didn’t notice the little purple flowers by her feet. 

Her walking boots made a satisfying crunching sound on the pebbles beneath her feet, but all she could hear was the hum of her own churning mind. As she ascended, her breath became heavier, and her body, warmer; it was singing a joyful hymn in praise of movement. She didn’t hear it. The music was drowned out by her disappointment. 

Finally at the top, she looked down at the view of the valley below. The grass should have been green, but it was a little yellow. It was not the scene she’d imagined. It was a cloudy day, so she couldn’t see very far. 

She should have chosen a different holiday destination, or at least picked a better day to do the hike. Snow-white clouds danced above her head – an elegant waltz laid on just for her in that place in that moment. A gift freely given. The grass below couldn’t resist joining in – it gave in to the wind and swayed to and forth, a sea of amber moving up and down in time, like the legs of a glorious chorus troupe. 

She missed the show. 

She trudged back down the mountain, her head full of thoughts still blocking the view. 

The next morning she weighed herself. No change. All that walking, and she hadn’t made her body look any more like the ideal she held in her mind’s eye. Maybe she’d never measure up, and she was doomed to look disgusting forever. 

She didn’t feel the softness of her skin or the warmth of her breath. Her chest rose and fell rhythmically in sync with the whole of creation. She was oblivious, focussed instead on keeping time with the mental whirl of worry and regret. 

She looked in the mirror. Her eyes were deep pools of mystery, the windows to unknown depths of her soul. It was a shame her eyebrows were the wrong shape. 

Her personal history was written in the lines of her face. A testament to her growing irrelevance. 

Her legs were the colour of the moon. It was embarrassing how pale they were. 

The contours of her belly undulated like the waves of the ocean. She only wished she could burn and hammer them as flat as a sheet of metal. 

The blood beneath her nails imbued them with a rosy glow. The colour was too delicate to make an impression. She really should paint them a brighter colour. Then she’d be more presentable. 

Her body, the home for her soul, was a miracle, created to experience the wonder of life. Every cell pulsated with the potential for pleasure, primed for joy. Yet, to her, it was nothing but a symbol of failure – the barrier, rather than the gateway, to fulfilment. 

She couldn’t see her own beauty through the thick fog of her thoughts – thoughts that were not her own, that had colonised her mind, infecting her perceptions and robbing her of the ability to see herself outside an inhumane framework of arbitrary rules and punitive judgments. 

Unaware of the mental filter creating her experience of ugliness, she stayed blind to her beauty, which was always present, and felt defeated.

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