First, you must be willing. Willing to hide away the things you know and defer to a man's concept of the world, or maybe every man's concept, if you are really ambitious.
Next, turn on the television. Go to the movie theater and sit through every film, at every showing, back to back-- until they shut the projectors down. While you are there, you must memorize the faces of every young woman you see on the screen. Study the way they dress, the clothes they wear and how their bodies wear them. Memorize the way those women laugh, the way they tilt back their heads and the beautiful, gentle sounds they make. Go home and look at yourself in the mirror. Tilt back your head. Make those sounds.
Notice what you are lacking.
Practice being better than you are.
Or just stand at the checkout of the grocery store and scan the perfect faces on every magazine cover. Whatever you see -- on film, in print, in the front windows of the stores at the shopping mall -- this is what you must try to be.
If you want to be the perfect woman, it will be hard work. There are so many things you are going to have to be.
But there are so many things you can not be, too.
Do not be old, because old women are irrelevant.
Or rather, if you want to be perfect, you can be 70, but you can not look like it. As the years pass, remember this: Your worth will now be measured in the distance between how old you really are and how old you appear to be. This is all that must matter, in perfection.
Do not be certain, because certain women are threatening.
Do not be loud, but be loud enough to make people want to hear you. Make them want to look your way.
If you are fat, you must be funny.
If you are fat and funny, you must acknowledge this to every single person you meet.
If you talk like a man, and say the things that men say, or wear your freedom like a vest, people will be nervous. People will get anxious.
Do not make them anxious.
If you have sex because it feels good, because you want to, because you can, you will be a slut.
Do not be a slut.
When you are asked, "How are you?", only be "great." Or be better than "great." Be perfect.
If you can't say something nice, shut your goddamn mouth.
And never be sorry. Unless you are too noisy, or in the way, or ask too much, or change your mind. Then you must apologize. You don't want to be a b*tch, do you? Or do you?
If you can do all of this, if you can find a way, if you are lucky and willing and young -- you could be perfect. Maybe.
You will please them all. Everyone will love you. Everyone will know you. Everyone will be happy.
You could be perfect.
But will you be happy?
How to be happy
You could laugh and laugh until the lines of your face are trenches that your children bury their memories inside.
You could love a man with fortitude and faithfulness. You could wear his naked body as a cloak at night, let it cover you up and carry you. You can carry him too.
Or you could live by yourself and please no one but yourself, sleeping with the constancy of your own skin as a warm reminder of what remains whole. Of what remains yours and yours alone.
And if you decide he is worthy, you could let him marry you. If he is lucky.
You could demand all the things you deserve in a voice that is loud and certain and sure.
You could wait your turn when it is right to wait and push ahead when you must push. You could do both. It's okay to do both.
You could care about what matters most to you, to only you, what makes your heart sing, what keeps you awake at night.
You could walk by the glossy magazines and remember that even those women do not really look like those women.
You could grow old with purpose. You could notice that no one notices you anymore when you walk down the street in a short dress. That heads no longer turn when you flip your hair.
You could be sad.
Or you could be thankful. Thankful that your heart beats, tick tock. That your hair is thick and growing, if grey. Thankful that one man notices the curve of your back, the softening folds of your skin. The depth in your words.
You could be useful.
You could correct them when they tell you that you are funny, for a girl.
You could dance all night. You could sweat and shine and drink beer.
You could swear.
You could tell them the truth, when they ask "How are you?" Even if you are not great. Even if you are not fine.
You could value what your best friend values in you. You could value what your children remember most about their earliest days. The way you scratched their back with your bitten off finger nails, the way you always let them bring a friend to dinner. The way you crooked teeth smiled to them over the edge of their crib at night.
You could be content. You could be comfortable. You could be enough.
You could work harder, to be someone else. You could be perfect.
Or you could be exactly who you are, with perfection.
You are good enough, for all the people who love you, just as you are right now.
When will you be good enough for you?