Today I was eating my dinner behind this group of six guys and suddenly their conversation caught my attention.
“… (girl) … is fucking ugly”
“exaggerate leh, say until she is fucking ugly.”
“aiyah, she is average lah…”
“please, you call that average…it is below average can”
“aiyah, take out picture see lah.”
And this bunch of guys just whipped out their phones and started looking at the photo of this girl.
“Okay lah, she is not fucking ugly, but she is definitely below average”
And all these while I was sitting behind them, eating my food and silently cursing the lot of them.
No girl deserves to be called fucking ugly by any guy in this world. It doesn’t matter how good looking the guy is, but no one deserves to be degraded like that. Even I would get angry if it was a girl that called a guy fucking ugly.
Society judges appearances so harshly and really, I don’t think anyone has the right to judge another person just based on appearances. Appearances only make up for 10 percent of the true potential that you have. If just by judging on appearances and people can get work done, then I am sure, yes, there would no longer be a need for anything else no? Afterall having a beautiful appearance is all that is needed. Why would anyone still need to study so much now?
When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.
“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.
“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!
“Don’t worry. We’ll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.
But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.
Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”
All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”
And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.
This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.
About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.
This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.
“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”
I watched Kate Makkai’s speech the other day and I felt so impressed by it. Subsequently, I really thought her daughter will be such a blessed person with a mother with such self-love.
We describe good looking people with adjectives like pretty, beautiful, chio. I’m not saying that it is wrong to look pretty or beautiful or just “suitably fuckable”. I’m sure beautiful people don’t have it better than any other person, but all I’m saying is being good looking is not to be put on a pedestal for girls and guys to look towards every single day.
If you have the need to take self shots and post it online every day just to validate yourself, quit it. Why would you need to take photos of yourself to be able to appreciate yourself? It is alright if the whole world does not think that you satisfy their standard of being pretty or beautiful. Being beautiful comes from within and self-confidence and self-respect is the most beautiful item that would make people feel beautiful.
I admittedly say, that I am a below average girl and every single day I feel the need to do something to my looks and it has got to be the most annoying thing ever. Self-confidence and self-respect is what I really need to have and not feel bad about myself over egoistical judgemental idiots.
To the 6 guys that I was eating behind: You can judge others for all you want, but one day you will really really regret making all the statements. Being a little snarky here. so pardon me: If the mirror saw you, they would probably spit at you and say fuck, stop blinding me with your ugliness.