This post by My Era got me thinking.
My preteen and earliest teen years were spent being a total tomboy. I had a ‘proper’ boy-cut, wore boy’s clothes and generally was very thrilled when people mistook me for a boy. I have no explanation for my behaviour- I have no idea what was going on in my mind, but anyway, that’s how I remained till age 13. Not to mention the fact that I had acne AND really thick glasses AND braces:)
My interest in looking like a girl began in 8th grade, specifically, after I fell hard for a boy. Predictably, he was older, REALLY good looking, and reserved nothing but the faintest acknowledgement for me. It was around this time that I grew my hair , started treatment for my pimples and bought ‘girly’clothing , much to my mother’s delight. It was also the golden age of msn messenger, and I wasted no time IM-ing my crush.
Unfortunately for me, this was no american high school movie, and this boy promptly also fell deeply in love with my (very pretty) best friend. What hurt the most though, was his ‘revelation’ to her that he knew I liked him, but I was ‘too ugly’ for him to date. Ah msn, wish I could have unseen those words.
So there I was, fourteen years old, certified ‘ugly’ by the then love of my life who was snapped up by my best friend. To say that it was the defining event of my teen-age would be an understatement. I was hurt. I was angry. I lost my best friend of 3 years. Some obnoxious classmate wrote a poem about me(!). However, to my credit, I resigned myself to the new state of things- it’s truly wonderful what looming Board Exams can do to heal broken hearts.What didn’t go away was the belief that I wasn’t good looking.
Time passed by, and by college I had shed the braces, donned contacts and was feeling better about my looks. It also helped that I was in a smaller town , and in a medical college with a decidedly smaller female population. As a ‘fresher’ , I was suddenly considered ‘beautiful’. I gained my first ever admirer in the first week of college- it was flattering and also amusing. It would definitely gone to my head had I not also simeltaneously befriended my hostel neighbours- who were without doubt, two of the most stunning girls on the campus. Call it the ‘cheerleader effect’ (re: barney’s theory) or my own belatedly blossoming beauty (hah!) but my years in college redefined myself in own eyes- I gingerly came to believe that I was also pretty in my own way.
I began to date my current BF in the pre-final year of college. At that point of time, exams and academics were literally my life (as it so happens when the exams are around) and I really had let myself go- I’d stopped putting any effort into dressing up and had put on so much weight that I had to buy new clothes. My boyfriend on the other hand, was tall, lean and dimpled. There was no doubt in my mind why he was attracted to me ( I was reasonably smart, considered ‘bindaas’ and was the reigning public speaker of my batch)- but I did wonder , in the initial days, if he considered me physically desirable. I was , after all , short, plump and un-dimpled, and our ‘match’ was the butt of several good-natured WTF jokes.
Anyway that’s all water under the bridge now. I’ve gotten wiser, as also the ‘friends’ who thought he deserved better.I’ve grown thinner , he ‘s grown fatter, and we’ve both grown so much as individuals and as a couple that me worrying about how I look is now laughable.I’m glad we’re together,like two contented cats, (though taking photos together is still a challenge , given the vast difference in height.)And I’m glad I’ve reached this point of being comfortable- with myself, my body, my looks and my personality- relatively early on in life.
What I’ve learnt so far is that how is see yourself is heavily influenced by how other people see you , which in turn in affected by which sort of people are around you. So you can either surround yourself with people that evaluate you based on your looks, or choose to be with people who like you for who you are-it’s that simple.