I have only recently worked out that I am, at best, a mildly pleasant-looking woman. For most of my 41 years of life, I truly believed I was gorgeous. (Of course, I’m being a little tongue in cheek.)
We can ‘blame’ my father for this. He always told me I was a beautiful person. He always built me up. I drew the so-called ‘genetic short straw’ amongst my three sisters – I’m the shortest, the allergy-prone one, and the least academic. And I knew it. My dad, acknowledging that feeling inferior can damage a person’s soul, was determined to have my back.
In fact, in our last ever conversation, he turned to one of my sisters who was laughing at my incorrect maths calculation, and said, “Not only is Nama the smartest out of all of you, she’s the most beautiful.”
God I miss that totally biased, completely delusional, loving liar.
Listen to Mia, Monz and Jessie discuss whether you should call your friends ‘beautiful’. (Post continues after audio.)
His presence is obviously wearing off, because I recently showed someone a school photo of myself, and I was stunned by how average I actually looked in my brown and blue uniform. I thought I had looked like Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I did not.
Now before you dismiss me as arrogant, let me make this clear: you can like yourself, and not think you’re better than other people. I don’t believe, and have never believed, that I am better than anyone else. But Dad knew that you can’t be a strong and powerful person if you don’t like yourself first. So he fed my soul.
Despite what my sisters will tell you, my father’s words haven’t created a monster. I’m not a narcissist who thinks she’s the only person in the room (even though I often literally am, because I’m single – but I digress).
Dad calling me beautiful also hasn’t meant that I only value myself on how I look. Because, as I explain below, I knew he wasn’t just (or even) talking about my looks.
But the words have meant that I’ve never hated myself. I can honestly tell you that I’ve never compared my appearance to another woman’s and felt inferior – because I don’t compare myself, full stop.
I’ve never thought about a crush, “Oh, I’m not good enough for him.” Even now, at middle-aged 41. I suspect my current crush is most likely not interested in me for other reasons (I can’t think what they could possibly be), but it’s never crossed my mind that it’s because he’s ‘out of my league’.