The Upshot of Being Ugly
I was so confused by women when I was a teenager. I was confused by the girls with their short skirts, and their hair twirling, and the giggling at boys.
They wore Impulse perfume and Australis lipstick and read Dolly magazine. At the time I would have told you they were idiots. That they were bimbos. Not being a bimbo was very important to me as an adolescent. The truth is, I was jealous. I had no idea how they were doing what they were doing, and I was even more baffled that it worked.
But it was like being a boy-crazy tree. Every dude saw me as a tree. Solid. Perennial. Funny. Tree. No one saw me as a prospective pash. There are myriad of reasons for this.
I was not a “natural beauty” per se. Ahem. I was…gawky. I had pointy teeth at the front. I was whooping cough skinny. I had a big nose for my age. It’s a shame it doesn’t work for noses the same way it works for IQs.
“My daughter has such a big IQ for her age.”
“Well my daughter has an enormous nose!”
*awkward slow nodding.*
Don’t worry, I don’t have low self-esteem now, and this is not an attempt for me to try and connect with you over our current body image issues. I’m cool. But this was the truth.
I had no sexual connection to my body. I desperately wanted to have a boyfriend but the idea of having sex or even getting fingered, as was the fashion of the time, terrified me.
I didn’t get my period until I was 15 and I was so A-cupped that I told my BFF I was born with a concave chest. She believed me until the summer of ’97 when I won the boob lotto, then she was devastated and betrayed. Getting boobs at age 17 was as likely as Steven Bradbury winning at the Winter Olympics.
Also, I didn’t know what boys were attracted to. My grand plan was that I would befriend the boys. Be one of them. Get real close. Act all manly. Be super competitive. Make them laugh til we got in trouble. Never let them win at anything. Never humour them. Outwit. Outsmart. Outplay. Survivor style. I thought this was a water-tight plan. I was convinced that this would coax them over to the Wardy side. I was like the “cool Mum” trying to tell you that the Friday night church group band was “groovy” because the bass player wore a bandanna. (Co-incidentally for 2 years I also attended Friday night church group called Squids. And that bass player is now my uncle.)
You know in Monsters Inc. (Spoiler Alert) where they find out that children’s laughter is 10 times more powerful than their screams? That’s what I thought would happen by me acting like a dude; that by behaving in the exact opposite way to “the girls” I would attract them in a way THAT HAD NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFOOOOORE!
I should also point out, I liked being this way. I loved having heaps of male friends. Shout out to Ben Darling and Ben Hodges who I laughed with nearly every day for four years.
Lastly, I asked boys out. All the time. Repeatedly. The same boys. Who had said no. Repeatedly. They felt bad for me. I was hoping to catch a little sum-sum on the sympathy rebound, but no dice.
So where did this leave me? Virgining out, that’s where. Fortunately I did not learn any lessons in the language of flirt until I was 17 or 18, right at boob o’clock. And I genuinely didn’t know how to be sexually comfortable or use it to my advantage without feeling like I’d just snuck into the VIP section of a club I wasn’t invited to, until well into my late 20s. I pretended that I did. But I really didn’t.
So in the years leading up to the mammopolypse, I did well at school. Learnt guitar. Wrote a lot of bad poetry and bad song lyrics. Sung and played bad guitar in a grunge band. Studied Japanese at school. Tried to get political. Didn’t. Just had a lot of attitude against “the man” until I was about to get in trouble, then I’d do anything they said. I was Vice-Captain. I took up photography. I fell in love with drama. I saw more bands than I had money. Basically, I got interesting. And then when I was 19, I started travelling.
Now if I was pretty or sexually inclined, or had any clue how to get a boy to like me, I don’t know if I would have been or done any of those aforementioned things. I don’t. I don’t trust teenage me. And this is no disrespect to any of the gals that could.
As I said: I envy you.
And I’m also sure that the pretty teenagers are interesting and cool women now, too. But what all those years of desperate clambering to be noticed did, was make me very noticeable as an adult.
Personality is a great currency. Sexuality is too. They’re great bedfellows, no pun intended. But I’m glad I really had to work on my character exchange rate, rather than my eyelash batting.
High School is the worst. Even if it’s the best, it’s the worst, and I would never want to go back to the daily grind of paranoia in the harsh daylight of 1200 other insecure lemmings.
But I would love to sneak back and leave notes in the lockers of every young girl. Go ahead, figure out how to be hot. That’s awesome. But go and get sweet hobbies. Learn to ride a motorcycle. Get someone to show you sign language. Volunteer at a shelter. Do a knife throwing course (I’m sure they exist). Get heaps good at Judo. Learn to sculpt.
Because you will never regret being interesting. You may regret trying to pretend that you’re not.
(If you want to see me Kansas City, Los Angeles, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, or South Africa you can go to my website www.felicityward.com and I have all the dates listed there. Or I’m on Facedick or Instadouche or Twatter . Hopefully I’ll write more regularly than I have been)