The prettiest girl in the room

Me circa 2003 in Venice, with my painfully adorable kid brother.

EDIT: At no point during this post will I write the words “I am an ugly lady.”  Just FYI.

Since it seems to be the topic of the moment, let’s talk about the ladies.

As I’m sure many of you know, a British blogger recently made a post to the effect of “I’m so pretty, the world can’t even handle me right now.”  She goes on, in great depth, to report all of the free stuff men throw at her and all the hate women harbor towards her.  All because she’s just too damn good-looking.

Is it just me or does this sound like a bad sequel of Zoolander?

Needless to say, it’s got a lot of women’s knickers in a twist.  I won’t get into the ins and outs of the feminist/patriarchal/societal commentary, I’ll leave that to the Ashley Judd’s out there.  I’d like to make things a bit more personal.

I’ve never been the prettiest girl in the room.  That’s not a self-pity comment, that’s a fact.  I am absolutely, 100% aware of my attractiveness level, unlike Ms. Brick. (Ohhhhhh snap.)

As I’ve mentioned in another post, junior high was pretty rough for me.  I got braces, glasses, and eventually a retainer.  I had no idea what the hell makeup was about and had a propensity to wear corduroy pants and t-shirts with puppy dogs on them.  My idea of hair care was brushing it once and letting it all fall in my face.  I was flat-out ugly most days, I’m afraid to say.

Plus I was smart.  As in, always-knew-the-answer smart.  Did-the-homework-during-class smart.  95% average smart.  It was a lethal combination for my social rank.  Needless to say, I wasn’t terribly popular.  I had a handful of friends, but none of them were really in any of my classes except band.  That was my safe zone.  But anything else… I was fair game.

I acquired my posse of pests early in grade 7.  I had never been exposed to this level of mockery and constant jeering before, and I had simply no idea how to react.  It was senseless.  It was pointless.  And hurtful.  Most mornings I woke with a sense of dread – what kind of idiotic, mean-spirited joke was I going to be the subject of that day?  Shoved in the hallway?  Openly laughed at?  Or just the usual mimicry of my odd tics?

You can guess what the group looked like.  Pretty.  Popular.  Lots of drama.  When they weren’t gossiping, they were flirting with the popular guys.  And when they weren’t doing either of those, they were giving me a hard time about pulling a Hermione in math class.  It was torture.

Notice that these girls were pretty.  Not gorgeous, but knew how to use that ever-popular, sparkly, blue eyeshadow.  And every day they made me feel ugly.  It didn’t matter what I wore or how I acted, there was always something worth laughing about.  If it wasn’t my awful hair, it was my hairy legs or my hideous face or my lanky gait.  Nearly every day for a year and a half, I felt like the most unattractive person on the planet.

Then a miracle happened.  My parents whisked my brother and I away on an amazing adventure around the world.  We travelled together for nearly 6 months, seeing everything from the pyramids of Giza to Big Ben to Victoria Falls.  And I forgot those girls.  I forgot what they’d said and how they’d made me feel.  I remembered how to be happy.  And more importantly, I remembered how to be happy just because.  I don’t know how I would’ve turned out had I not snapped out of it when I did.

But there’s no denying the effect those absolute morons had on me.  I still have a small group of close friends.  I still have an unfortunate, instinctive mistrust of popular, attractive people.  I’m still working through some residual social awkwardness and low self-esteem.  I never leave the house without spending the time on looking presentable. (Especially when you have a med class that’s as hot as ours!) Don’t get me wrong – those teenage twits didn’t break me.  I’m not damaged goods.  But I am different.

And bringing it round to Ms. Brick’s article, I was a bit shocked to read her sentiments, given how insecure I am about my looks.  Because to me, she’s one of them.  One of the pretty girls who took immense pleasure from making someone else feel miserable.  At least, she’s the embodiment of that idea.

But the point is, I can now pinpoint the root of my incredulous reaction:  to me, she’s one of those bullies and she’s trying to explain how tough it is to be her.  Not only that, but my initial flare of rage merely confirms that uglier women are instinctively jealous and fearful of people like her.  Because we’re inferior.  Pretty is something we just don’t have, so we make life difficult for people that do.


I appreciate Ms. Brick’s message of self-confidence and a devil-may-care attitude when it comes to workplace gossip and what have you, but she’s presented it in such a way as to be completely unpalatable to anyone who’s ever experienced bullying.  Trust me, I know what it’s like to have it rough because of looks.  News flash:  Being showered with gifts and favours doesn’t count.

 – Atalanta



Filed under Personal & Blogs

6 responses to “The prettiest girl in the room

  1. Nelle

    A cursory search on Facebook suggests that a good number of the “uncool” kids from high school are now vets-, dentists- and doctors-in-training, engineers, teachers, politicians and student executives, talented fashion designers and actors and musical virtuosos.
    The kids who tormented us in high school . . . had unplanned pregnancies. ‘Nuff said.
    Keep on rockin’ in the free world, m’dear!

    • How did I miss your comment? Yarr.

      Much obliged for the info. I don’t wish bad things upon people, I really don’t. Even people who make things difficult. But this makes the future CHHS reunion much more interesting. 😉

  2. Chantalle

    Oh junior high. I don’t miss that time (although I feel like we could have been friends). I also had braces, glasses, retainers, a complete lack of fashion sense, and (get this)… headgear. Which I wore to school, every day, for an entire year. To this day, I still don’t know what I was thinking.

  3. Person

    Look for beauty and you will find it. Sometimes you don’t even notice it until one day you realise that everyone and everything around you is beautiful and unique. I guess that’s the key to seeing it in yourself.

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