This is a sensitive subject. For myself, and I am sure many others. Where does the first damning thought begin? That first occasion when you convinced yourself you are “ugly”? Maybe a bully made you believe it, or maybe it sprouted from your own perceptions of yourself.
I can tell you, for me, it began when I was eight years old. One day, I looked in the mirror and I saw a monster. I saw an asymmetrical face, cheekbones that were too gaunt and too high, the soft hair growing on my lip, crooked teeth. My face was a breathing mass of flaws.
This mentality ushered me into a very dysfunctional young adulthood. Everything I did was predicated around the idea that I was hideous. My 20s were filled with anxiety, not only the clinical and social kind, but the kind centered around my perceived ugliness. There were days where I refused to leave home because I did not want to subject anyone to my presence that day.
The occasion in the poem I wrote, pictured above, happened when I was around 29. I really did cry until my eyes felt raw. This was it. The confirmation that EVERYONE sees me as ugly as I see myself. This was the TRUTH! All the kind people who loved me, who told me since I first conceived my ugliness that I was, in fact, quite beautiful, were LYING! It was a big coverup. The outside world said I was beautiful, but my internal certainty was that I was horrendously ugly.
I have to call it what it is: body dysmorphia.
People throughout my life have told me that looks don’t matter. That it is my heart and intentions that people will love. But, they most likely, have never felt the heaviness of feeling ugly. Not unatttractive. Not plain or dowdy. Ugly.
For years now, I’ve taken selfies like I intend to fill a cathedral.Those selfies have helped me immensely. I really took a look at myself. I noticed my features. I became familiar with me, which made me less monstrous. Shit, I look at myself now and call myself pretty. But not always. I’ve grown. I’m in my 30s. I feel less…obligated. Obligated to be beautiful. Obligated to hate myself.
Wait…I feel less obligated to be beautiful? This is a big deal for me–a huge breakthrough. I used to stay home, and hold myself back from experiencing life for fear of being looked upon and judged. Now, I have realized that beauty is not the rent I pay to inhabit my body.
We are visual creatures. We have a need to feel confident, and attractive, but it should not become an overwhelming force that stifles us. Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, as they say.
How will you behold yourself today?
Hey, everyone! Long time no-see. Why have I been gone? This last week was finals week, and I am officially done with my first year of my MFA! Woohoo! I have been celebrating by staying up late listening to music and writing. I was particularly inspired by a Madonna song, “Bedtime Story” and decided to create a redacted poem from it. Here it is:
Thanks for stopping by.
The prompt: About You The poem: Youth harbored long enough. Then love.
Life really is a long learning experience. As a young person, I did not know myself enough to truly love myself. But here I am, learning about myself more every day, and of the world and people around me. Is it psychotic that I’ve found things I love about life now? The world seems to be in shambles until I walk away from the computer and watch honey bees in my parents’ garden. This life thing ain’t so bad. I wish I could tell my younger self that. I’m telling you now.
A word about this prompt: I am gathering these prompts from here, where there is a list of prompts for the month of April. I chose to not interpret this in a romantic way, or anything. That is just not something I want to write about. Instead, I wrote it around one of the most important male figures in my life, my father. I thought about him as a young man, and how little I know about his youth. Anyway, here it is:
The prompt: About a boy. The poem: Faded photo, young dad. No smile.
(Grad school). I remain imperfect. But the grueling behind clear eyes
feels like a portal to joy.
I began with my vision
But, the further
I dive into the forest,
the more the canopy
On my olive skin.
To look down
at my hands
is to look through a kaleidoscope
If the virus created
@ least I could shine
(This is from a writing prompt featured in “300 Writing Prompts.”)