I used to hate my looks. I avoided looking into mirrors. I squashed any compliments on my appearance. I voraciously consumed what the media told me was beautiful – tall, thin, curvaceous, busty and perfect facial features. Every woman in a magazine or television was a moving work of art. And I hated myself for not being even close to looking like them.
It didn’t help that I was highly sensitive, idealistic and introverted. I was this little, shy girl and inside me was a mess of insecurity, self-hatred, perfectionism and anxiety that brewed and knotted itself into greater insidious tangles. I didn’t have many friends (two, to be exact) to feed my ego. I never really talked to boys and had zilch reassurance from the opposite sex that I wasn’t disgusting. My mother was no help. She called me beautiful but it was perfunctory, as I was her daughter. My sister tore down my self-esteem every day through verbal abuse, commenting on every aspect of my looks until I wanted to cry. She laughs about it now and tells me she was joking but I have never really forgiven her. What she did was cruel. She didn’t realize that every insult dug like barbed wires into my skin and that, as a result, I was bleeding for many years.
After being bombarded with representations of beauty, it got to the point where I was too anxious to leave the house. My face and body seemed odious. In my head, I imagined coating my face in tar so other people wouldn’t have to look at it’s ugliness. My eye were not brilliant enough. My eyelashes were not long enough. My nose seemed to be a fat potato resting in the center of my face. My lips were too broad. Now I know I look perfectly normal. But at the time, my mind warped my face into one that was freakish and grotesque. My idealism yearned for perfect skin, perfect eyes, perfect body, perfect lips, perfect hair. I wanted to be elegant and flawless and every day the mirrors contradicted this illusion.
I started binge eating intermittently. My depression started to tickle at the edges of my consciousness. I experienced immense anxiety if I was stared at. I avoided people because I thought they wouldn’t want to hang around someone as ugly as me. I had flighty urges which I never acted on to wear a paper bag over my head when going out. Hoodies began to be my favorite clothes. I watched movies to escape but it only made the problem worse as the actresses were all stunning.
How did I get out of this funk? No, I didn’t come to the epiphany that beauty did not matter. Of course beauty matters. Beautiful people consistently receive higher salaries, have more friends, are more successful, happier and confident and even perceived as being more intelligent and likeable. There were girls at school at the time who were fantastically beautiful, intelligent and witty. The jealousy writhed within me every day. It was incredibly unhealthy. I could see their bright future ahead of them. And my future? It was bleak.
In the end, what helped me to come to terms with my looks was pondering about existence. I became aware of my own mortality. I realized how stupid a thing it was, to care about one’s external beauty when one day everyone’s flesh will rot and their bones will crumble. When we’re fertilizer, we’ll all look the same. Also, beauty fades. When I am old and wrinkled, will I lament not leaving behind something that will immortalize me, such as a book, or that fact that I was never pretty or that my beauty is gone? I’m sure I couldn’t give a damn about beauty if I was on my deathbed. No one would. They would be thinking about the significance of their life, whether they had any regrets and be reliving joys.
Beauty can sometimes be every thing. In our society, looks are paramount. Humans are visual creatures. The prettier you are, the more chance you have of attracting a mate, of getting a job, of being selected as a model or actress, etc. But in the full scheme of things, when life or death stares at you hard in the face, beauty doesn’t matter one jot. Whether you are ugly, average or beautiful, you are still going to experience suffering and sorrow. You are still going to be born. You are still going to die one day. Because we’re all humans. We’re all blood and sinew underneath. It doesn’t matter.
Do I still feel ugly sometimes? Hell yeah. And, just saying, Facebook doesn’t help. But do I let it get to me so much anymore? No. Even if you’re not the most attractive person, you can still read. You can still write. You can still dream. You can still create. You can do all sorts of things. You can be happy without being the epitome of beauty. You can be happy with being average. If you think you’re ugly, you can use make-up sparingly to brighten things up and work on your confidence. There’s always going to be someone out there who thinks you’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful. So what? You’re ugly. So what? No one really cares.
So, all I’m going to say is, live your life, breathe the air, smile and to hell with what society or other people think. You are you. You exist. You have a mind. You can think. Your hands can do things, your eyes can see. And that’s all that matters.