The mirror is not my friend this morning. It’s showing me a tired, pasty, slaggy-faced kind of girl and I’m QUITE SURE that’s not what I looked like last night. Maybe I should start wearing make-up. Or drinking 8 litres of water a day, or whatever it is. Or actually getting some quality sleep. Or not stressing about stuff. Right.
At the grand old age of thirty-three, when I pretty much thought I’d be reconciled to my looks and accepting of my flaws, I am still as fraught as a teenager about my appearance. There is a reason for this.
When I was sixteen, I was waiting at a bus-stop to go into town. There was a gig up at my school and all the cool folk were going, including the boy I fancied who also played guitar in one of the bands due to perform. I had on my DMs, tight black jeans and a blue, floaty top. My hair was loose and was so long it reached down to my bum. Sure, I had big glasses and bushy cave-woman eyebrows, but I felt all right. I felt almost grown up. I was excited and thrilled at the thought of being included in something as awesome as a gig.
A car stopped right beside me because of the traffic. The window was down. There were four men inside. The man in the passenger seat leaned over, looked me up and down, and said, ‘You’re so ugly, you make me want to punch my eyes out’.
His mates laughed, the traffic moved, and they disappeared. And with that one sentence, that stupid man confined me to a lifetime of insecurity. As a sixteen year old, I already felt angst about how I looked. As a thirty-three year old, it still resonates with startling vivacity. I can even hear his voice, the exact words he used, and the disgusted tone in which he said it. He definitely will not recall that incident, but unfortunately for me, it’s inscribed on my mind forever.
I feel weird typing this now. My throat went all narrow. My heart is beating uncertainly. I’ve not told anyone that this happened, ever. Mostly because it’s such a stupid thing to hang on to. I’ve been told countless times since that I’m pretty, or beautiful, or attractive. I apologise if that makes me sound vain, but you see, I really don’t think I am any of those things. I think I’m ugly enough for people to want to punch their eyes out. That’s what I see when I look in the mirror. I didn’t know this man. Yet what he said – in the moment, as a way of showing off to his pals? Who knows, perhaps I really was that offensive – is the one of the only things I carry with me that I use to beat myself up every now and again. Which is DAFT.
I want Moo to grow up and find beauty in many different things. I don’t want her to subscribe to the notion that you can only be beautiful if you conform to whatever the media says is beautiful at the time. Yet how can I do that when I am so stricken by what one fecking bastard said to me almost twenty years ago? How can I tell her that it doesn’t matter what other people think when, to me, it so patently does matter?
I think part of me blogging about it is partly me trying to let go. Keeping it secret means I can never move on from it. I realised that as I stared at my face in the mirror just this morning.
Maybe it will be a good day after all. Maybe I’ll go put on the clothes that make me feel great and my hair will behave itself for once and not look too scraggly. Or maybe someone will take a moment to wind down their car window and tell me I’m the most beautiful creature they’ve ever seen…