There’s been an awful lot of debate on the social networks over the last few days about a particular newspaper article that I’m not going to reference here because I don’t want to give the paper any more advertising revenue or publicity than they have already (cleverly) generated. It’s that one written by the woman about her looks.
Allow me to present something written from the other end of the spectrum.
I am not good looking. On my better days I look presentable. The rest of the time I can barely look at myself in the mirror. I’m not saying this to garner any well-meaning sympathy. I am merely stating facts.
When I found out that I was having girls I was terrified that they would look like me. I didn’t want them to suffer the abuse and ridicule that I have suffered for years. I could cite hundreds of examples here but I’m only going to give you one.
A few years ago, pre-children, I was walking home from the gym. We only lived a short walk away from the gym so I used to walk home in my workout gear and shower in (relative) comfort rather than risk the communal showers. I was trotting home one day along a reasonably busy road when the traffic lights ahead changed to red and the traffic stopped. As I walked past a stationary van the window wound down and the driver decided to ‘have a chat’ with me:
“YOU’RE A FAHKIN’ DOG BUT YOU COULD AT LEAST MAKE A FAHKIN’ EFFORT”.
At that point the lights changed and he sped off before I had a chance to retaliate. Although even if I had used my right to reply, I’m not sure what I would have said. I have tried many different approaches to this over the years (I’ve had a fair few opportunities to practice), from giving them both barrels back (usually met with ‘Don’t have a fit luv’ or ‘Ooh language’), to performing a two-fingered salute (greeted with gales of laughter) to my current approach, staring straight ahead, pretending I haven’t heard and not responding. I don’t think there’s an adequate response that would make me feel any better about it.
When I was a teenager, I figured that success would make me immune to such abuse. I hoped that living well (said to be the best revenge) and getting educated, meeting someone and getting married, having children and having a good career and lovely friends and family would render me immune to the White Van Wankers (Ooh language!) but it doesn’t.
One effect of this is that I now can’t leave the house without a full face of make-up, hair blow-dried and straightened and clothes immaculate. Even my ‘casual’ clothes are carefully considered. I make the best of what I do have and wear dresses to work most days. This isn’t vanity, it’s self-preservation.
I envy naturally beautiful girls that can slouch around in trackie bottoms, Uggs and messy hair and still look fabulous. I simply couldn’t get away with that in public without attracting ridicule (believe me, I’ve tried).
As the months and years pass and the girls get older, I breathe a huge sigh of relief that the girls look like Dh with their fair hair and green eyes. They haven’t (yet) developed my too large for my face nose and they have something resembling a chin, which I definitely don’t. (I went on a date once that was going well until the guy looked at me carefully and said ‘Your nose it too big and you’re quite plain, but I like you. You won’t be shocked to learn that there wasn’t a second date).
I’m incredibly lucky because Dh tells me I’m beautiful every day – and after nearly 12 years I think he probably means it! R and G aren’t of an age yet where they notice prettiness or ugliness, but they have noticed my make-up ritual, the length of time it takes me to get ready in the morning and my array of dresses and pretty scarves. Of course, I think the girls are gorgeous but I’m biased because I’m their mother. However, I’m relieved that they don’t look like me. I’m told that there are elements of me in them, expressions and frowns (frowns mostly) but they look more like Dh and my sister than me.
I don’t want R and G to ever experience what I and other women that don’t conform to normal boundaries of beauty go through at the hands of thoughtless, mindless morons*
*I like to think that they have small penises, or are in fact as smooth as Action Men.