All the ways you’re made to feel ugly

I was never into fashion, at least I could never afford to be and right now my only fashion rules are to brush my teeth, take a shower, and look clean when I’m out in public.

I was born with cross-eyes and had to wear very thick glasses back when it wasn’t cool. I hated wearing them so much that once, I remember my mother tried to bribe me with 10 cents for each time I wore my glasses.

So I wasn’t bought out.

Kids consistently teased me and school and at church. Church kids were actually the worst. Sunday school teachers get busy teaching you to forgive others because “that’s what Jesus would do” and rarely ever did anything to anyone who did anything to me.

There was a girl whom I’m call Cee. Cee once grabbed me by the neck and choked me at church. There was this one guy who I’m Ro. Ro just kicked me in the shins (also at church) and left a scar that barely disappeared a few days ago, but it was my left shin.

Adults would walk by my mother at Sunday services and said things like, “But she’s soooo pretty!” and I knew they were lying about this.

Later in life, my family would talk about my figure constantly as if I wasn’t there. I have a cousin with whom I generally get along with, but who always looked me like a canvas or doll that she had the right to dictate (at least when it came to fashion and clothes). And yes, I get that one needs to look a certain way for work or some occasions, but a lot of us just can’t afford it. All the boring professional clothes are expensive anyway. We’re busy trying to conjure ways to survive or trying to find ourselves. Some us (or at least me) aren’t seduced by the ads on TV that tell us how we’re supposed to look, or what games we’re supposed to play in order to get someone else to like us. Some of us (or at least me) don’t care if people don’t like us because we know that there are people we don’t like us—sometimes for stupid reasons too. I guess some people aren’t built to play games or feel ashamed when looking a certain way isn’t in our budget.

Conversations with older women in my family include them giving me make-up I’d never wear (I hate AVON, it gives me pimples. Give me Lush, MAC or give me nothing!), telling me what I need to do to attract a conservative church-going man (whom I’d make miserable anyway because we’d be incompatible), or telling me my split-end count. Don’t get me started on people judging my food choices or telling me to stop after my second plate of food.

In the end I don’t feel like people see me, they see what they’d want to change, and though there are many ways to do this, feeling like someone’s makeover project is one of the many ways you’re called ugly, especially when these are the people who are supposed to love you. I remember feeling ugly starting at about age 3.

I’m now 30, and I try to stay away from mirrors.

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