Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pretty on the inside.

When I was a young girl and a “tween” (I hate that word), I hung out mostly with a group of friends. We were all Girl Scouts and we would congregate at one of our houses for slumber parties on a fairly regular basis. During these slumber parties we did all the requisite things that girls that age do: watched movies, ate pizza, danced together to Wham! Songs and had beauty pageants.

The beauty pageants always consisted of the following: 4 contestants and 3 judges. The contestants varied each time, but generally it was me, my friend who was tall and lanky and never wore make-up or had any interest in boys at all, my friend who had braces but also blond hair, and my friend who was tall and skinny and had acne but was cute and played lots of sports.

I was always crowned third runner-up. Always.

The winner was always the girl with the braces, because she had blond hair. Second runner-up was always my friend who was tall and lanky and never wore make-up or had any interest in boys at all, and first runner up was the tall and skinny friend with acne who was cute and played sports.

One day I was tired of this and actually cried. Being twelve is really emotionally challenging anyway and these pageants were adding insult to injury. The girl who was my best friend, who was always one of the judges, said to me, “Don’t worry. You’re pretty on the inside.”

Translation= You are ugly.

“You are so nice!”

Translation= We could run laps around you.

This leads me to two conclusions:
1) My friends were huge bitches.
2) I really was an ugly kid.

And I was ugly. I look at pictures of myself from that time and I had a mullet (I like to call it a 2/4/7- 2 inches on top, 4 inches on the sides, and 7 inches in the back) and coke bottle glasses. I was afraid to smile with my teeth because I had a part so large between my front teeth that you could drive a truck with the doors open through it. I got two pairs of jeans per year and if I outgrew them then it was just too bad. There was no money for new clothes and certainly no money for nice things. I was ugly. I felt ugly, I looked ugly, and I was ugly.

As my daughter approaches this tender age I worry more and more about her. She’s a tiny little thing; hardly bigger than a minute. She’s very smart and funny and self-assured. She doesn’t doubt herself. She’s not afraid she might get the answer wrong, she just gives the answer. She gets really angry when someone picks on her brother. She’s sweet and silly and uses really big words. She is the person I would like to be when I grow up someday.

She’s also highly opinionated and not afraid to tell you about it. And while I absolutely adore that about her, I just don’t know how well that will go over when she’s twelve.

I lost touch with those girls, mostly. As we got into high school we talked less and less. Everyone sort of split off into their own groups and our individual groups had less and less to do with one another. Girl Scouts ended for us and that pretty much ended our friendships. We were nice enough to one another I suppose. The blond girl with braces finally got her braces off. She played all the sports in high school and was in the top 20 of our class. Last I heard she’s a stay-at-home mom. The girl with acne’s skin cleared up. College wasn’t really for her and last I heard she manages a store. The tall, lanky girl graduated near the top of our class and is married now and does something absolutely brilliant, because she is absolutely brilliant. I think she’s like an aerospace engineer or some crap. I saw her last in 1995 and she acted as though it was extremely uncomfortable for her to talk to me. Maybe it was? I don’t know. The girl who was my best, best friend has three sons now. I think the oldest one will be sixteen this summer, maybe seventeen? She had him between our sophomore and junior years. She and I emailed a few times back in early 2000 but I’ve lost touch with her again. I don’t know that her life turned out the way she wanted it, at all.

And then, there is me.

I got married when I was twenty. He certainly wasn’t my first boyfriend or even the first boy who proposed, but he was definitely not the right person for me. I knew it even then. I knew our relationship wasn’t normal and it wasn’t what I really wanted. But I wanted to get married because I felt like it would prove to everyone that I was pretty and someone did love me. That even a girl who was so ugly that her best friends said she was pretty only on the inside could be loved.

Of course he didn’t really love me. He married me…well, I don’t know why he married me frankly. I have no idea. But not because he loved me, because he didn’t. Our marriage was so shockingly brief that I’ve just really tried to put it out of my mind. I refer to him as SD (sperm donor) because he’s nothing more and nothing less than that to me. I appreciate his “contribution”. That’s all. I used to think that he ruined my life, but he didn’t. I wouldn’t allow him too. My life is far, far better now than it would have ever been had I stayed married to him.

I’ve turned out to be a strong person. Is that part of being pretty on the inside? Maybe.

I look in the mirror every day of my life. Do I like what I see? Sometimes. I have really beautiful hair. Thanks to the braces that I finally got when I was seventeen, I have a perfect smile. My clothes fit. They may not be really expensive designer clothes, but they fit and they are clean and they look appropriate. I have really green eyes so green that people sometimes ask me if I’m possessed (why? I have no idea).

The main difference now, I guess is that I have a smile on my face a whole lot of the time. Even when things are crappy, even when I almost get killed three times on the way to work this morning, even though I don’t understand half of what’s going on at my job and even though I feel like a huge idiot, at the end of the day, I’m happy. At the end of the day, my son draws me a Valentine that says, “You’re the best mom every” (yes, he meant ever). My dog sits on my stomach while I try to do sit-ups. My daughter reads to me from the funny papers in a funny voice. My husband says, “Thanks for making dinner.” and “How was your day?” And even though a great deal of my life is spent being sarcastic about everything, really things could be a lot worse.

I’m no supermodel and I’ll never be called beautiful, by anyone. But I’m pretty on the inside. And I didn’t realize until just lately how very important that is.

16 comments:

Brown Eyed Girl said...

You are not pretty on the inside.

You are absolutely beautiful on the inside. I've been telling you this for 3 years. Maybe NOW you'll listen to me huh?

It's so painful to think of my childhood, much because it would read a lot like your post.

I was ugly, we were poor, I had BAD hair and did I mention we were poor? Yeah...as in electricity shut off at 5pm on a late fall night. Ya know when you and a friend are walking down the street from the activity bus and all the houses on the street have lights on but yours? You laugh that awkward chuckle as if to say "Oops no one left a light on at home" only to say goodbye to your friend and pray that they don't stand in front of your house waiting for a light to go on and watch you wave from the front window..because you can't. Because when you get inside it's pitch black and none of the lights will go.

10 minutes later your mother arrives from the local dollar store with 3 boxes of tea lights.

This is how you will do your homework tonight and when you go to bed, you silently thank God that it isn't winter in Chicago because this time it's just the electric bill, next time it could be the gas and therefore you'll be in the dark AND the cold.

I hated my childhood..but to know someone as wonderful as you ever felt a moment of being ugly....reminds me why you and I got some of the most awesome offspring EVER created..because we deserved a little happiness.

Kellie said...

Awesome. You have a fantastic way with words.

How 'bout teaching me the same things? I want to be able to realize that being pretty on the inside is better than looking like a model. Low self esteem sucks.

wopalockapino said...

On American Idol the other night one girl was crying because her mom didn't support her dream. After hearing her sing I can understand why but do you know how her mother tried to persuade her not to try out? She told her "As pretty as you are, you are not TV pretty."

After knowing you online, I have come to find that you are a beautiful person, inside and out. I am lucky to have "met" you!

Stacey said...

That was a beautiful post.

CPA Mom said...

You are EXTREMELY GORGEOUS inside and out and I am BLESSED to be your friend. I am your friend, right? Because I've got huge self-esteem issues too from a VERY similar (eerily similar) childhood of being "pretty on the inside." Some day I may show you just how "ugly on the outside" I was. And fat. And ugly, did I say ugly yet? I too, married someone just to prove I was loveable. Lord knows we didn't really love each other though.

I'm worried about my baby girl too but I'm sure it is for nothing. She looks like her Dad so she is beautiful in every which way. I hope and pray she will be confident and strong and never self-doubt.

Rachel said...

It's amazing how the older you get the more you realize that looks are not nearly as important as you thought they were.

You're happy, you have your husband, your wonderful kids, and a dog that likes to help you exercise. Sounds good to me.

I think you're pretty and I love love love your personality.

Bethany said...

You are beautiful! Inside & out. I am so glad to know you.

Gerbil said...

Here's the sad thing... you DO get called pretty, beautiful, stunning... ALL THE TIME. But you can't or won't hear those people because you keep thinking otherwise.

You have beautiful hair, yes, and gorgeous skin. And your face is lovely, absolutely lovely. And you know what? SO IS ALL OF THE REST OF YOU, NO MATTER WHAT YOU KEEP TELLING YOURSELF.

Nobody's a supermodel. Supermodels aren't exactly "supermodels" either, if you catch them without their gaggle of handlers to paint and polish away the imperfections.

What you are is REAL, in addition to gorgeous... Besides us, I know your family keeps telling you that.

Emily said...

Love this blog. We've all had times that someone made us feel ugly. Those times stick out so much more than the times someone made us feel pretty or smart or whatever. Man, those middle school years suck!

velocibadgergirl said...

This might sound like ass-kissing, but it's not. I don't want to say "You have a beautiful face," because that sounds like something a musty old aunt says right before she pinches your cheeks.

But, woman. You have a beautiful face. You are a beautiful, gorgeous person. I've met you, and your smile, your eyes, they show the heart of gold and the wonderful spirit and the wit and the brains and the ballsy-ness of you. You're seriously seriously one of the most gorgeous people I've ever met. I'm not bullshitting, you know. xoxoxoxo

Tonya said...

What a great post :) I am new to your blog but you must be a pretty amazing person to lay your heart out on your blog.. I commend you!

Angela Z said...

I can completely relate to the insecurities of the childhood/"tween"/teen years. I am Italian and Greek American and looked way different than my blonde hair, blue eyed girlfriends and they reminded me of this constantly, to the point that I was convinced I was so unattractive.

I have olive toned skin, green eyes, long dark hair and very short. I aslo aquired the "Noses" that both ethnic groups are known for.

Now that I am older, I turned out to be a fairly attractive woman who has never sought plastic surgery to correct my non-Anglo imperfections. I am happy with how I look.

Throughtout my marriage my husband constantly reminded me of ugly I was on the inside. Yes, I am opinionated..that's me. But, his ugliness is playing a huge (and not to his advantage) part in our divorce proceedings.

I have now found a man who loves me for me and states that he never wants me to change!

It's a wonderful feeling knowing you are loved for you!

Great post, Chick!!!!! I enjoy reading!

Christine Spencer said...

That was very heartfelt and an interesting read. And I have always thought that you were and are beautiful on the OUTSIDE (and on the inside too, but we already knew that).

frannie said...

that brought back so much pain from the past! I still have such horrible insecurities about my looks

Honest to God truth? when I first saw your picture I thought you were very intriguing and very beautiful. It was later that I learned that you are beautiful and intriguing on the inside as well!

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

First - Thank you so much for the Birthday wish. That was rather nice of you.

Second - I am glad you have made the decision to see yourself for who you really are. Most everyone is telling you how beautiful you are. I'm not going to do that. It makes no difference what anyone says about you unless you choose to believe it. You figured it out and you made your choice and you done did good!

Besides, God looks at the heart and not the outside appearance. You've got a good heart. Beautiful (pretty) inside and out? Gee, you have a great husband who adores you, happy children that think you are wonderful, a terrific sense of humor and Ginger the Wonder Dog. You already know the answer. You KNOW what is most important.

You also have that certain quality about you that make people want to know you and be considered your friend.

I, along with everyone else here, think you are FREAKING AWESOME!!

I am happy to know you.

Does Jason have a blog? I'd sure like to read his take on some things......

dawnabon said...

Sweetie, did I ever tell you that the first time I met you in person (remember? At O'Charley's? And they gave me the nasty rotten salad?), I was . . . . I don't know how to say this, because I don't mean this in a bad way, but the closest I can get is intimidated. You looked so stunning! I even remember the shirt you were wearing - it was a button-up fun print shirt with lots of green in it. You just work it, girl, and you come off as so confident and self-assured. I really wish that you felt that way inside, too! Hey, I know ya, chickie, and I think you're gorgeous times twifty. And someday when I'm visiting my parents, I'll find some pictures of myself in that gawdawful 10-13 age range of myself (the thick, clearance-rack old lady glasses! the hand-me-downs from my sister! the perm! the bangs! the baby fat! the horror!) and we can have a good laugh at my expense.