Friday, September 29, 2006


I’ve never really been comfortable with how I look. As a little kid, I can remember avoiding mirrors, not liking what I saw. I was skinny and awkward and not what anyone would refer to as “classically good looking.” I battled with my skin from the age of 8, and because of that assumed it made me ugly. And, if I was going to be ugly, I thought, I could at least be thin. (Growing up in the heyday of heroin chic was awesome, let me tell you). Because thin obviously was good, and thinner was better. Or so my 9-year-old brain figured.
All through junior high and high school I maintained a ridiculously low weight, but was always discouraged because I couldn’t get my weight to get lower. Obviously I needed to try harder. It didn’t matter that the mirror showed a thin girl, clearly, I was ugly and only skinny could make up for that.
Over the years, I finally got a little help with my body issues, but never really believed that I was attractive. So, all through my late teens and early twenties, I slept around. Because, clearly, if men would sleep with me, I couldn’t be that unattractive, right? Right? Please?

About the age of 5, my parents figured out I had really bad eyesight. At first I was thrilled to get glasses, because it made me feel special and singled out from my siblings. But then I wore them to school, got teased, and decided that glasses only added to my “ugliness.” I stopped wearing my glasses entirely at age 10. I preferred to be almost blind rather than make myself less attractive.
I finally got contact lenses when I was 18, and then only because I needed them to drive. After my first year at college, I found out that when you don’t sleep at all, and have to put contacts in, it REALLY hurts. So, I bit the bullet and decided to get glasses, once again. But not just any glasses, dark, heavy framed Clark Kent style glasses. And I liked them. I realized that when I wore them, people only really looked at the glasses. I could hide my face behind them. If I didn’t wear them on any given day, people didn’t recognize me. Awesome. I stopped wearing my contacts altogether. What? Let people see my face? I don’t think so.
It took until last year for me to realize that, hey, I’m probably not the least attractive person in the world. In fact, I kind of like that I’m not “classically good looking.” And after 16 years, my skin is finally not how I define whether I look good on any given day. Sure, Sometimes I wish I had a more prominent chin, or slimmer cheeks, or whatever. But, overall, I can look at my face and not have the overwhelming desire to put a bag over my head, in order to save the world from my hideousness. At least for 15 seconds.
Along with that realization, I decided that I could start wearing contacts from time to time. I still wear my thick, heavily framed glasses more often than not (you try staring at a computer for 9-10 hours a day in contacts. Hurts, eh?) But overall, I don’t necessarily need to hide. I usually wear contacts when I go out on the town, or to a party, whatever. Dressier occasions, I guess.
So, for the party Jen and I threwa couple weeks ago, we were dolling it all up. I decided to put contacts in. About halfway through the evening, a couple of my friends asked me why I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I explained that when I want to dress it up, I wear contacts. My friend replied, “Put your glasses back on. You look better with them on.” In my head, it sounded more like, “Why don’t you put a bag over that disgusting mug of yours. Your face is disgusting, put the mask back on.”
While I know this is my baggage, and he didn’t mean anything by it, it made me want to hide again. Not just wear glasses because they help me see, but wear them because no one will look beyond them.


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