I was the lead instructor for the new agent training today. For the occasion, I wore heels and a pencil skirt and a collared blouse. I used bobby pins. My hair was up in one of those ponytails with the little Hillary Duff-reminiscent bump in the front. I looked in the mirror and instantly hated didn’t recognize myself.

I looked fine. Several people (including The Boss – who was at the apartment this morning) commented on how nice I looked, or how good my figure looked in the slimmer skirt. But I felt like a clown all day.  That wasn’t half of it—I had the weird feeling of wearing someone else’s skin. There is nothing more unnerving than looking in the mirror and not seeing the “you” that you’re used to.

For 8 long hours I had to pretend to be a woman with no soul and inverted priorities. For 8 awful hours I had to be the girl who would snub her best friend in favor of people who sold their souls to the fashion industry. Oh wait, that’s not it. I forgot I wasn’t auditioning for a part in The Devil Wears Prada. But I might as well be – the feeling is the same.

Perhaps the most horrible part of this little paragraph in my life occurred as I was walking back to my apartment. I was with Marcelo (he’s my immediate supervisor who was nice enough to walk me home) when we passed by a group of people—two guys, one girl. Once we were out of earshot, Marcelo informed me that one of the guys had given me a thorough once-over. Unpoetically put, he “checked me out.”

In one terrible instant, I found myself believing the lie that society has forced on the human race. This guy found the “fake me” attractive—the cookie-cutter, Mattel-inspired, conformist “me.” Chances are the real me—the real Gourmet Girl—wouldn’t have warranted so much as a second glance. For one awful moment I believed that in order to be beautiful, I must become fake. If I wish to be loved, I must cease to be myself.

And then I remembered. Those who love you for your mask do not love you. Those who only look at the skin and not the heart do not know what love is.

With that knowledge, I walked back to my room, ripped the bobby pins from my hair and traded my Barbie for the real me. baggy shirts and all.