In public school, I was voted second ugliest in my grade. My first boyfriend told me that I'd never be beautiful. My last boyfriend told me I'd never be pretty. Some drunk guy at a party laughed at me and told me there was no way I was as attractive as my much taller and much blonder friend.
Tuesday Bassen’s “Ugly Girl Gang.”
I think it's the nose. My oversized “family nose” is so bulbous that a quick splash of red paint would land me a role in the IT movie (at least Tommy Lee Wallace’s version). It balloons off my face like a pimple I wish I could pop. It haunts my dreams like the heffalumps and woozles that haunt Winnie the Pooh’s (that episode is a trip and a half).
Or maybe it's not the nose. Maybe it's the chin. My face kind of gives up part way down, like a sad loading sign on an internet page that you know is just frozen. Or a poorly cropped image. Or that poor smushed hotdog bun in Sausage Party. The resulting effect on my neck is something akin to a turkey wattle. (That's what that ball sack-ish part of their face is called. Now you know.)
Just in case you were curious further about turkey anatomy.
Either way, when I look in the mirror I know I'm not that cute. Especially when I can compare my reflection to the endless barrage of flawless visages that scroll across my Instagram. Rationally, I have to assume that at least half of those images are highly edited, but that still leaves half the virtual population that's exponentially more attractive than me. But this all got me thinking, what if it was just okay to be ugly?
As a female, I've been taught that my worth lies within my physical appearance, and since I lost the genetic lottery on that one, I haven't felt very worthwhile most of my life. And yet, in our modern age of 2018 where sex robots are actually a thing and Doritos are coming out with “chips for her” (finally!), shouldn't I know that I'm worth more than just my looks? There has to be some reason people put up with me.
Finally, chips for my delicate feminine phalanges.
And there is. I'm just generally a decent, kind and interesting enough human being to be around. For women, this seems radical. And in a way, I guess it is. As women, being ugly is exactly what we're taught not to be. Being ugly is exactly what society condemns (because how else are they gonna sell those expensive “miracle” beauty creams?)
The Empress of fashion herself, DV.
Now, I'm not here to sound epiphanic or revolutionary. To be honest, I'm running (not walking) to the nearest doctor as soon as I can afford that pricy new nose and luxury chin. But perhaps while I'm waiting for that, it's important to realize that I'm still worthwhile as a person even though I'm not beautiful. There’s a really great quote about that. Although it’s been credited to Diana Vreeland, famed editor-in-chief of Vogue (and spiritual leader of my soul), it’s actually written by Erin McKean, founder of the world’s largest online not-for-profit dictionary (also a cool accomplishment). Nevertheless, I like to imagine DV in her luxurious New York apartment, schooling me on self-esteem. The quote is this:
“You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”
And like mother Ru always says, “if you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
The queen and mother, Ru Paul.
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