(I originally posted this on Medium, but I wanted to share it on my main site as well)
I’m not beautiful… never have been and never will be. Not in the sense most people think of beauty anyway. The word makes me uncomfortable when applied to me. Especially when I try to talk about how I feel about myself, my body, my looks on line. Mainly on twitter, whether on my public or locked down accounts; it doesn’t matter. I’ll get called beautiful by well meaning friends, people who know me just from online. And I hate it.
That picture is a little over 2 years old. I look about the same now, maybe a bit more wattle under the chin. I know what I look like when not filtered, snipped, cropped, or the rare occasion I put on makeup. I also have feelings about the reaction I get when I put on makeup vs the other 95% of the time. It makes me wonder what they think I look like when I am not wearing makeup, be it a bit of lip colour or a full face. I’ve never liked the idea that compliments come when you put on a mask of foundation, eye liner, concealer, etc. Does it really make that much of a difference? It makes me not want to bother even when the occasion calls for it; as I think on the commentary I’ll receive should I share photos after the fact.
I saw this video and others from D&D Live and cringed. I’ve been having a really hard time with how I look vs. how I THINK I look vs. the ways people respond to me for awhile now. I really hated how I looked in a video interview from that same event, recorded later in the day I think? I don’t know but I had a very negative, very visceral internal “ugh, I’m so fat, so ugly” reaction as I saw the few minutes of footage out of the whole thing.
The problem with that is, if I say that online… regardless of context, of whether or not I say I am just venting? I will get people who will try to make me feel better. I know there’s a good intent behind it; I mean how often do we admonish friends who are far harsher on themselves than we’d ever allow another person to be towards them? Same principal, except a lot of these people don’t actually know me. Not personally, in the sense they can call me up or text me. That’s a part of the problem for me, and I struggle with how to address it without shrugging off what is meant to be a reassuring comment on a day when I’m seeming not to like myself very much in the public eye.
How do you say, no… that’s not what I meant, or no… I’m not asking for compliments here? How when that is often a response no matter how many times you say that I’m just trying to get these feelings out, or that I really, really don’t want compliments cause that’s not what I’m asking for or expecting after people read a thread on self image/self hate/body dysmorphia on twitter that I’ve written. It’s tough because you don’t want to seem ungrateful for a compliment that’s coming from a good place (I assume) but at the same time; how do you deal with the lack of respect when you put up boundaries around how you want something to be received?
It’s all subjective, dependent on how I’m feeling that day. Some times the replies don’t bother me, but most of the time the responses of no, you’re beautiful, or pretty, or what have you grate on me. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, especially when it comes unbidden. But what to do with the feelings that come along with the reflexive cringe, the “cat face” I make when I read those replies, unasked for.
I know people will miss the point of this, will not get what I am trying to say, albeit poorly and now with the words I can usually push and pull to my whims. I know what I’m trying to say but the proper words, if any would fit aren’t coming to me. I just know that beautiful isn’t a word that I am comfortable with when applied to me. I know people will tell me it’s not true, they won’t get past the first sentence, and attempt to correct me; incensed that I would speak of myself this way.
Tel me that I’m beautiful inside, or have a gorgeous soul or some shit. The problem with that is, no matter what people try to convince you of, or think repeating it will some how make it be true; or that I’ll fool myself into believing it if they say it with enough conviction.
I’ve come to accept that I never have been or will be beautiful. I just wish others could let me process that when I take a chance to do so publicly; or to be vulnerable online about my feelings about my body, my self, my looks. I just wish people could let others sit with their feelings without trying to “fix it” or convince them how they feel is just a momentary thing. Or that they are just being hard on themselves… etc, etc.
Some of us are not, or ever will be beautiful and that’s something I wish we could just explore in peace. It would help so much in my case, maybe not yours but again… my space, my thoughts.
Now to try and sleep off some of this melancholy… and brace for the impact of well meaning responses that ignore literally all I’ve said.
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