I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long while now, because I think it is something important that is worth saying, both on my part and on the part of anybody else who feels this way about themselves, and to anybody who finds that this way of thinking is a sad thing that denotes low self-esteem, when it actually has more to do with self-identification and wanting to self-identify in whatever way we want.
So, here goes:
I am ugly.
Naturally, this is not the first time I have said this. As somebody who has had the severe misfortune of being a teenager before, I used to declare myself ugly all the time, just like pretty much everybody else around me. Back then I said it primarily to gain sympathy and maybe a denying comment or two. “You’re not ugly Gillian, what are you saying?” “C’mon, I’d kill for your hair/legs/eyes.” “You’d be stunning if you lost some weight,” etc etc. I enjoyed these comments, although to be fair they did not come very often. Certainly not as often as they did to the prettier people around me.
Anyway, it has been a fair few years since then. My appearance hasn’t changed much in the past decade or so, apart from my weight fluctuating a bit. I’ve always had the same thin hair, red cheeks, weird body shape, substantial amount of “extra, unnecessary, dangerous” weight, small piggy eyes, bad posture, I talk out of one side of my mouth, I could go on. While I am aware that attractiveness is very much a subjective entity and what is seen as attractive changes with the comings and goings of fashion, in early 21st Century Australian/British society I have a combination of aesthetic features that are not pleasing to the eyes of people who do not know and like the person within. These features are pleasing to people who know and like me, because they associate them with the me that they know and like. But to complete strangers, yeah – I am ugly. And today I would like to put forth the radical notion that that… might actually be okay.
I have pretty much always identified as ugly, I would say. What has been interesting to me is how my attitude towards this self-identification has changed over the years. As a teenager I hated it almost as much as I hated being fat, and I can’t say I was thrilled about it during my early university years either. But as I got more into fat acceptance and the like, I grew to be more accepting of my ugliness as well. Nowadays I think I am just about at the stage where my ugliness is a part of me. I don’t love it, but I definitely don’t hate it either. In a weird way I find myself almost attached to it, because it is a part of how I see myself.
There have been a few times where I have been wearing my “fat” necklace and been asked about it. I tell these people that I wear it because I am fat and I’m not ashamed of it. And more than once, the person I have been talking to has quickly said “but you’re not fat!” And I found myself getting really annoyed. Being fat is a part of me, and when they say I am not fat, it is like they are refusing to acknowledge a part of me and a part of my identity.
Having said that, I would not necessarily feel as annoyed if somebody were to say “but you’re not ugly!”, because, as I said before, ugliness is a subjective thing. While it can be seen quite blatantly that I am definitely larger in girth than most of the people around me, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that there might be some people out there who genuinely think I’m the epitome of hot stuff, and I’m hardly going to begrudge them for that. But they will have to understand that I, and most of society around me, do not share their opinion. But that is okay. It does not make me any less of a person or incapable of enjoying my life or the world around me or whatever else.
The point I am trying to laboriously make here, is that I choose to self-identify as ugly. Not because of my low self esteem or because I am a woman and therefore should not under any circumstances dare to think of myself as beautiful (a topic for another blog post, I think), but because I am not stupid or blindly unaware of what society deems attractive in this day and age, and I know that I do not fit that mould (a mould that is actually not necessarily as restrictive as people may think. That might again have to wait for another blog post). I have the right to self-identify as ugly, and I will fight to ensure that that right is not taken away from me.