I try to arrange and rearrange my 43 Things list in some kind of order, with the more current or doable ones near the top, and the more adventurous or out of reach ones near the bottom.
Some of you might have noticed this goal of feeling beautiful is second to last. This could tell you a lot about me.
I’ve been wanting to write something for this goal ever since I got this account, but I’ve been stumped for words. It’s as though I have scraps of ideas and I’m trying to sew them together, so let’s start with photographs.
I have a phobia of having my picture taken. When someone gets their camera out I quietly slip out of shot, make excuses (“my hair is a mess, I’ll let you get a picture when it’s washed!”) and if I do give in I’ll make sure I never see the end result.
Naturally, on Facebook, everyone has photographs of themselves in their albums. I don’t even have a user picture and this has prompted a few conversations with people as to why this is.
When I was really ill, looking in the mirror for me was traumatic. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and seeing what had happened to me was personified by this stranger I saw looking at me in the mirror. Her skin was the wrong colour. When I’m healthy I am olive, but this… this girl, she was either so white – so white – or yellow, or blue, or green. Her hair was greasy and a mess because she was too ill to wash or brush it. She was thin because often she couldn’t even lift food to her mouth, and she scared me. She scared me a lot. She scared me because she was me and was consuming my future.
I don’t want to give the impression that I always hated looking at myself. I didn’t, but when it hurt it hurt, and left its mark on me.
On top of this I was isolated. I didn’t see people my own age and I didn’t know what normal people looked like. I saw well groomed beautiful people on TV and in adverts, but those aren’t normal people. The actors and models themselves don’t even really look like the finished product. I had no exposure to “real” people, especially ones my age, to buffer those images with.
I felt sad that I wasn’t keeping a record of my life. I have next to no pictures of myself as a teenager, and I think I’ve only had maybe one or two taken of me in my twenties. When I’m older, I know I’ll regret this and wish I could see my face again as it is now.
The other day, I was talking to two people on MSN. I knew what they looked like, they didn’t know what I looked like. I dodged, made excuses, even tired to turn it into a guessing game but then… I bit the bullet. I sent them a picture of me. One of the few I have which I took when I was in my late teens. And it felt really good.