Whoever said “Beauty is only skin deep,” was wrong.
Whoever said “Pretty is as pretty does,” was only a bit closer.
Whoever said “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone,” was actually on the right track. They just didn’t realize it applies to both beauty and ugliness.
The truth is, beauty starts in the heart, or, more accurately, in the emotions. And so does ugly.
We hear a lot these days about how airbrushed photos in magazines and other images of impossibly beautiful women affect girls’ self images, but most times those poor self images start way before that.
If we are unloved, unwanted, and abused we know there must be a reason, and we come to know that the reason is because we deserve it. That we are unworthy of being loved and cherished. Children who are loved and cherished by the adults around them grow up with feelings of self-worth and self-love. And they rarely think they are ugly. At least, not the Ugly that goes bone deep. The Ugly so Ugly that it deserves a capitol letter.
By time I hit adolescence I thought that the only reason men were interested in me was because I was Ugly. That they believed that, since I was Ugly, I would be so grateful for their attention that I would have sex with them. Or at least let them feel me up.
And who were “they”? “They” were the construction workers who frequented the local diner where I waited tables from the time I was fifteen. The manager of the grocery store who offered to “lift me up” so I could reach the item on the top shelf instead of reaching it down for me as I had asked. The clerk who had to cup my hand in his to give me my change. The men in church who couldn’t talk to me without touching my hair or putting their hand on my back – and then sliding it down to my waist.
A lot of girls like us do go for sex because it is the closest thing we can get to love. But my reaction was different. I felt humiliated. And manipulated. And I scorned their attention.
In retrospect I think that was a good thing. It kept me out of trouble, kept me from being used, abused, and tossed aside once they were done. It left me some pride. But I still thought I was Ugly.
I had no clue that they were interested because I was built like a brick shithouse. Even though many of “them” had told me that. Not to mention I had that long, gorgeous blonde hair. That many of “them” commented on. Looking back on photos of myself I can see that I really was a walking wet dream. As many of “them” had called me.
So I got a lot of attention from men and that didn’t stop when I was married at nineteen. To a man six years older than I, who I met in collage. Who I thought only loved me for my mind. Because he told me so. And I believed him. Because I was so Ugly it had to be true.
It took a lot of years for me to understand that I was “physically attractive”. That’s the best I can get. Attractive. But at least it’s not Ugly. And when my now-husband Lionheart sees that it’s me calling on the phone he always answers it, “Hey Beautiful”. Capitol letter. And some days I almost believe it.