Like most women, I’m often afflicted by feelings of not being beautiful enough, but as of late those feelings have been particularly bad. Body dysmorphia is something I’ve been handling and working on for a long time, so sometimes I forget just how troubling it can be to lose my grip and let toxic thoughts take over.
Out of nowhereand with no particular trigger, my self image has been all but entirely shattered and I’m seriously considering quitting everything and going back to ringing that bell at Notre Dame or assisting that nice Dr. Frankenstein in his laboratory. I can’t even say that in my heart of hearts that I know I look okay or that I know it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m so very hideous that I want to apologize to everyone that has to look at me.
Head to toe, I just hate my appearance and there’s nothing I can do about it. Last week, I saw some pictures of myself that confirmed what I already knew: I am the ugliest girl in the world. My hair? Awful. My face? Deformed. My body? Disproportionate, stumpy and lumpy. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I had gotten so fucking fat? I’m not just a goblin, but the most unfortunate looking goblin of all.
If I look in the mirror, my eyes will zero in on one body part and then dart from flaw to flaw until my eyes blur from frustration. I could spend all day picking myself apart inch by inch if that was at all an okay or productive activity. Name a body part and I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. If we were having a conversation in person, all of my imperfections and disfigurations would be glaring you right in the face.
I’m not always like this. Sometimes I feel like I’m able to fool people into thinking I’m average or even kind of cute, but when I’m overcome by bouts of physical self loathing, I’m the one who looks foolish for thinking strategic eyeliner and some bobby pins could trick the world into being attracted to me. Those moments, when I realize what an arrogant idiot I was for not remembering I was irreparably ugly for a minute are when I most want to hide in the shadows and let the darkness cloak my repellant form. It’s completely illogical, this whole thing, but recognizing that doesn’t do anything but make me feel crazy and homely.
Part of me knows that I focus so much on my appearance to distract myself from my “real problems.” Every minute spent toiling about how masculine my face is or my witch-like my complexion or my squishy thighs is a minute I don’t spend being crushed by guilt and anxiety about bigger things. Why couldn’t I have a better coping mechanism than self loathing? More importantly, why couldn’t I just be prettier?
Boys who have rejected me romantically have always told me that I’m smart and funny as some sort of consolation. I hate that. Not that I don’t want to be a clever girl or a laugh, but it’s hard to have a sense of humor when you feel like the joke is on you for not being very pretty. I don’t always want high fives from the boys and I don’t always want to make people laugh; sometime, I’d like to be a bombshell or a vixen or at the very least the kind of woman that gets taken seriously romantically. It feels like it’s been a long time since someone looked at me like that.
Unfortunately, lines of admirers and suitors wouldn’t do much. Compliments from friends or family or even well intentioned strangers wouldn’t either. The only person with an opinion that matters is the haggard banshee in the mirror screaming at me: “You’re fat!” and “How dare you go outside like that?” and “Anyone who tells you differently is pandering to your ego!” Everybody loses.
My vanity and bad body image aren’t entirely incapacitating, of course. I go to work, read books, try to learn new things and spend time with loved ones. There is more to me than what I look like, even I know that, but it doesn’t matter when your brain is telling you that you’re the ugliest girl in the world.
Image via Warner Brothers Gremlins (1984)