I don’t know when I started hating my appearance. Or when I became so obsessed with it.
Perhaps it was when I got my waist length hair cut ‘short’ for the first time and left the salon feeling like a grown up, only to see the monster of a weave slicked back in my headband didn’t look any different; and there began a never ending history of disappointing haircuts that made me feel a bit like a tamed beast.
Or maybe it was when a boy ran into me in year 2 and knocked my front teeth out, only for the new teeth to grow through crooked. Now I have a smile I try to hide; but being a basic bag of giggles, I spend most of my time screaming inside or retrospectively regretting whipping my grim smile out in the event of any joke – hoping the people around me aren’t freaking the fuck out about how my face just transformed into something much worse.
I don’t associate or recognise myself in photos other people have taken. And the stars have to align perfectly for me to find a good angle/lighting/mood/skin tone setting that makes me feel like I look average.
Because when I see photos people take of me, I see a very vulgar, manly looking thing. She’s not slim enough to werk it, or big enough to own some curves. Her hair is too flat and her nose too pointed. Her chin is too squishy, her face is too round and there’s too much skin on it… And when in anything tight fitting (which is most days as worry people will think I’m fatter than I am in baggy clothes), I see the podge that nobody else sees.
People ask me to smile for photos and I feel like a monster. My teeth on display, my mouth and face swell, the bags under eyes bunch up and it’s wrinkle central and I just prepare to be upset. Which is why the world of Instagram doesn’t see me happy. Or, you know, my face very often at all.
I always thought this was just me being overly self conscious. Freaking out that I didn’t look like everyone else; feeling like an outcast because contouring wasn’t on my list of things to do before school, but perhaps should have been. I quickly established that I would never feel the prettiest because there was always someone else I could find that made me jealous; someone more petite, skinnier, perfect teeth, hair that glistened yet looked amazing when messy.
I always wanted to be someone else.
But this was something I’d learnt to accept. Until recently when it’s all started creeping back up on me.
I’ve been on holiday for 9 days and probably only one picture of my face or body makes me feel good. I’ve hidden the Polaroids I took because my hair was in a ponytail and my face looked too round. I’ve felt disgusting over photos with my smile featured, or my tiny round tum on display.
And suddenly, I started to feel possibly more self conscious than I ever have. And for the first time, I’ve started to truly believe that there’s parts of life that I simply do not deserve.
And despite rationalising this idea that appearance doesn’t ‘earn’ you rights to anything, I can’t get it out of my head. I don’t deserve people being nice to me because I’m hideous to look at. I don’t deserve that managers’ job because I look like a washed up child. I haven’t earnt my place in a photo, or to really be seen smiling in public. I don’t deserve to have a boyfriend who thinks I’m beautiful. And maybe girl friends don’t stick around because I ruin their photos. Maybe I don’t really deserve to be loved at all.
I don’t know why this has all come about now, either. Perhaps is because I’m feeling like my weight is out of control. And by that I mean, I’ve gained about 5 pounds in 6 years.
I see myself as a pale, petite, skinny girl but my proportions no longer fit the bill for me when I look at myself. Yet I still put my size 6 clothes on every morning. Nothing drastic has changed and yet my hateful perspective has intensified.
On holiday I bought 2 skirts after concluding I couldn’t possibly wear any of my shorts (I took four sets) because all displayed that little bit at the top of your thighs that wobbles, and it made me sick.
Cept on the streets I saw ~ everyone ~ in shorts: Girls skinnier than me that made me feel jealous, girls bigger than me that made me feel jealous, old ladies who just outright shouldn’t be wearing shorts that short made me feel jealous. And I realised that there’s no winning here.
I see myself as something that I can’t capture in a photo. And I disassociate from the girl in pictures other people take of me, thinking ‘I can’t really look like that, can I?’ When I feel beautiful I could take a million selfies, and yet the facade would be crushed by one photo of me by someone else and I’ll vow to never take another photo again. And I become overwhelming terrified that those times where I feel good about how I look, I have no right to be. And I don’t know how to fix that.
But I think this is more of a problem than I thought; more than a girl being self conscious but snapping out of it when someone calls her pretty. I feel like this is much deeper and scarier. I don’t really know why this has happened or what could’ve caused it but it feels pretty shitty.