As a child, I thought I was beautiful. My mum told me I was. My dad told me I was.
At primary school, I was popular which further cemented this most subjective of things as fact. Because all the popular girls are cute.
I was a tiny little dot of a thing with dark blonde hair and a precocious personality. I had little reason to doubt that I was, indeed, quite lovely to behold.
Then came high school.
Being short and cute and flat-chested in Year 6 is quite acceptable. For a teenager at high school, it meant instant demotion in the popularity stakes. How could I possibly compete with my nubile contemporaries, their perky boobs and long legs? Sure, my French teacher said my accent was trés bien! but a perfectly pronounced pourquoi did not bring all the boys to the yard. No, that was strictly the domain of milkshakes. Of which I had none.
So I started to get an inkling that I was not going to make my fortune as a model. More and more, I scrutinised my face in the mirror. I lamented my tiny breasts, hardly more than glorified nipples. I cringed at photos of myself tucked under the armpits of my willowy friends.
Interwoven with my own scrutiny came the careless comments of others. Flat-chested jokes, short jokes. They were hackneyed and constant. And they chipped away at my teen-aged confidence.
And then, I grew up. Well, not so much in the vertical sense. In this way, I have remained diminutive. But knockers? Holy smokes, did I grow myself a fine pair! Good things come to those who wait and for puberty, I seemed to wait FOREVER. It was worth it.
Even more important than the boobs though was to grow out of my teens and into me, slowly reshaping my opinion of myself and gaining back some self-esteem; coming to terms with the fact that I wasn't beautiful but that I didn't actually have to be; learning that who I am is quite enough. The process was a long one and it continues today.
But there is one bump in the road that I will never forget. An event that shook me to the core. A comment that was made after high school was done and gone, and the cruelty of that time gone with it.
Its power was greater for the unexpectedness of it.
In my early twenties, in a bar and prettied up as a young woman is wont to do when she is out on the town. My confidence was never greater than when I had my hair and make-up done, a pair of killer boots on and the flush of whiskey upon my cheek. Ironically, I had run into one of those boys who never considered me girlfriend material back in high school. I had not seen Joe for years. He looked much the same but me, I had changed in countless ways. I felt particularly pleased to have run into him on this particular night. I was young and sexy and I had a boyfriend so Joe could just eat his heart out, oh yes Joe could!
And as Joe and I chatted, it happened.
I saw him stumble into my peripheral vision but he kept stumbling until he was right in my face.
"Fuck, you're ugly," he said, slurring and swaying.
I can't tell you what I did. Or said. I don't think I said anything. I just stared at this completely inebriated, complete stranger. And died.
An eternity passed as the three of us, me, Joe and the fall down drunk stranger, stood suspended in this surreal and torturous moment.
"Fuck off, you fuckin' idiot." That was Joe. I remember that. God love him.
And then this odd, drunken stranger was gone.
Joe and I awkwardly wound up our chat, my humiliation and his embarrassment leaving nothing more to say.
And though I can barely picture him now, the stranger's existence in my life, all 60 seconds of it, is indelibly etched in my memory. An awful, dark smudge that still sends me to the mirror to wonder what it was he saw that night.
And what the hell possessed him to tell me.
This piece was written in response to the following prompt from Mama Kat:
5.) Share something mean someone said to you once, why has it stuck with you after all these years?
Ohhh honey you were & always will be beautiful 🙂
I too had a moment that is etched in my mind forever, on one of my many unsuccessful weight loss journeys I was out walking & a car full of young guys drove by & yelled out “Keep walking you fat ugly bitch” I cried for days after their cruel taunt.
Jesus! What the fuck makes people so cruel? I just would never dream of saying such a thing. I can’t imagine the thought even running through my head.
I’m sorry those fuckwits made you cry.
Thank you, honey. You, likewise, have always been gorgeous – inside and out.
Isn’t it funny how some random, drunk stranger can say something so lame and ridiculous yet it resonates with us for years and years? I had a similar thing happen to me when I was out on the town with my sister. We were having a great, care-free night. Lots of dancing and fun! I was happily married and feeling great until some drunk dude got up in my face and said; “Hey fatty!”
Suddenly I wanted to go home!
Deb, this makes me so angry! I will never understand this behaviour. Deliberate cruelty. It makes me despair of the human race. Who is raising these people?
That feeling of deflation is so horrendous. I’m sorry that you were made to feel that way.
You know I think you’re gorgeous. xxx
People are so cruel. I have weight ‘issues’. My mother had several pearls…
…You’d be so pretty, if you’d just lose some weight *sigh*
…They won’t give you that job. I don’t think they hire fat people.
And wedding dress shopping? She wasn’t allowed back after the first fitting…andI haven’t seen her in years. Best decision I ever made.
Mine would have to be my sister telling me i was an embarassment to her. This has affected me alot especially the way i see myself and develop friendships as sometimes i feel not good enough for anyone.
Sometimes you have to cut people out, Ange. It seems a drastic measure and particularly harsh if the person is family but just because a person is related to you doesn’t mean they’re not a poison in your life.
Good on you for honouring yourself enough to take that step.
It’s very hard to erase those comments, isn’t it, Zoe. They cut to the bone and make us question ourselves endlessly.
Your sister is just one person though and family often say the cruelest things. I hope you can see that she was wrong and that your value as a person doesn’t lie in her opinion of you.
Thank you for commenting. xx
It’s funny how the grass is always greener – through those formative years I was so tall, and all I wanted was to be short and cute. 🙂 I eventually learned to appreciate my height, but I never did get any boobs. As a matter of fact on the subject of booblessness, one boyfriend of mine told me, “I might as well be feeling up your back” – talk about a self esteem crusher. Thank goodness I eventually got better at picking boyfriends!
The short jokes never stopped for me! But I don’t care. I always just say that good things come in small packages. 😉
Your boobs and my boobs share the exact same story. Love that!
And Joe? He sounds like his insides are nothing but pure ugly – the worst kind of ugly.
As for you, I hope you know how gorgeous you are – inside and out. xxx
I’m short, too – but I never did grow those boobs you’re talking about!
It always amazes me how a comment in passing can stay with us – and what possesses someone to say the meanest things – what could possibly be the motivation, drunk or not?
I saw this prompt and it looked like too much to handle. I have a long memory as you know – it isn’t a conscious decision to hoard pain but I do it so well.
Let’s just say I empathise with what you felt after hearing that. It was designed to knock you down a peg and it worked. He’s a dickhead – hopefully he’s matured but you know what? He probably hasn’t.
Anyone can be unintentionally hurtful but to be so obnoxious is a low art indeed. I wonder how many other women he’s charmed with his winning ways.
Love ya – and lots of others do too. xx
It’s the best kind of boob story!
Joe and the drunk guy were not the same people – you’re not the only one to think they were so I’ve obviously written it in a confusing way. I might try and amend it.
Thank you for your lovely words. xxx
I agree. The short jokes were boring! I’m adorable, dammit.
Yes, what possesses them? I think that is what has stuck with me for so long, the question why. A room full of people and stumbles over to me.
I’m sorry you didn’t get the boobs!
Thank you, Mel.
This is one of those memories that’s the hardest to talk about. So strange because I did not know this guy from a bar of soap. But he was sort of odd and awkward and as mentioned, completely shit-faced, so his insult felt worse somehow. Like, if even this guy thought I was ugly, maybe I was?
Ugly. It’s a very powerful word. I think of all the insults you anticipate hearing in the course of a lifetime, I suppose I never thought I would hear that one.
Thank you for the love. I appreciate it so, so much. xxx
Yep. That grass sure looks green over there!
That boyfriend of yours? Are you kidding me? So glad you fine-tuned your boyfriend selector to weed out dickheads like that!
I don’t know if you’ve amended it, but I just reread it and, duh me! Of course they weren’t the same. That’s what I get for reading your blog first thing in the morning before the caffeine has kicked in 😉
It breaks myheart and pisses me off all at the same time when I read stories like this…why can’t some people just keep their mouth shut? why do they feel they have to put someone else down?
your pics looks absolutely beautiful and i can’t imagine that you’ve changed too much.
For the record Ang …you are one VERY HOT MUMMA!….gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
I tell you the only thing that idiot saw that night …a toilet bowl. Because he must have been SERIOUSLY drunk to even think you were ugly….
I would say more likely he had been watching you that night and you had not even looked his way…..and his anger got the better of him.
Wonder how his life turned out…..who cares…look at how wonderful yours has!
Drunk fucker – grrrr!!!! Clearly his vision was impaired from too much booze…
I have a similar story to yours. Short, blonde fairy of a thing. Pretty enough to keep me confident to some degree. And flat-chested. Alas, my tiny tits never blossomed 🙁 That is until i was 28 yrs old and could afford a boob job 😉
But the one remark that has always stayed with me (and there were many), was from a guy i used to go to high school with (let’s nicely call him Dweeb-head). He also ventured to the same uni as me and ended up doing the engineering degree that Paul (now hubby) did. As you know, Paul and i met in our first yr of uni. We’d noticed each other for 8 longs months, but neither had the courage to actually do anything about it. Not a word was spoken. I guess we both had self-esteem issues and we both thought we were ‘out of each others’ leagues’.
But one day, when Paul saw me hurry past his tutorial room, he made a comment to his mates about finally going to go and talk to me.
This is when Dweeb-head pipes up (he wasn’t Paul’s ‘mate’ – he just knew him due to the same classes) and says, “I know that chick. I went to school with her. Her name’s Rae. She lived in Leura, and she is a nice girl. She’s good looking too…expect she has no tits”.
And suck rotten eggs Dweeb-head (who, let me tell you, was no friggin oil painting) – because Paul walked straight out of that door and went after me anyway. And we’ve lived happily ever after – haha!
But yeah, i love Paul for that – but i don’t think i’ll ever forget that comment. So nasty and unnecessary.
I think the worst thing I have experienced in this regard is someone I love, making me feel ugly – inside and out. I really can’t say much more than that about it, it hurts too much to be honest.
I’m sorry that you have this memory etched in your mind and heart – it’s really not fair that you had to experience that. You have such an amazing spirit, I find it very hard to believe that someone could be so cruel, yet they were. May karma bite them on the arse.
Wait… the picture on top of this post… that’s you, right? Cause if that’s you, then you’re a hottie. Seriously.
Stopped in from Mama Kat’s.
Oh my word. Who let the drunkards out???
That’s you no? In the post? You’re beautiful!!! Don’t let one random idiot who was swimming in booze that night make you think otherwise.
And I bet the drunk b*stard was the ugly one.
Visiting from Mama Kat’s
You’re precious–screw drunkwads. People always made fun of me for being the tallest in the class. Whenever they would ask how the weather was “up there,” I’d say it was raining and spit on ’em!!!
It’s amazing the things that end up sticking with us. I used to be a heavy teenager, and I still can remember all of those hurtful comments that people used to make.
Amazing how we can replay moments like that in our heads forever, but we can’t remember where our car keys for days? I’m glad you’ve filled your life with people who speak the truth and will stand up for you.
That’s so awful Angie! 🙁 People can be pig-dogs, truly…..but we usually learn the most from those people that leave imprints, even if it was for only a few minutes in our lives! Bizarre how life works, but it all shapes us into the beauties we are today. XOX
Oh, that’s awful! It’s amazing how those words stick. I was never told I was beautiful, that I remember, until I was about 15 and a friend of a friend said that a friend said I was beautiful. I was shocked. Later, long hair dyed blond, tall and sporting a Byron Bay suntan, I used to get stopped in the streets. I think prepubescent ideas of me being the ugliest person in the world stuck far greater than any comments I got from passers by when I was in my 20s. Ironically, the most sticking comments were received during pregnancy…they are really genuine! How we define ourselves, it’s a wonder. And what an impact our parents make on our esteems. Mine constantly told me I was going to have a big nose. Maybe they were scared I would I think I was beautiful.