I was recently at an event with my parents, not knowing many other guests there, surrounded by pretty young things wearing gorgeous dresses. I glammed up for the occasion too – my pink Cinderella skirt from St Frock, and my silver jacket and floral top that I wore to the AusBlogCon (though I always seem to feel really overdressed due to the amount of layers I need to wear!).
While I was talking in hushed tones with my Mum about how beautifully dressed some of the girls were, it turned out some of those beautifully dressed girls were talking in hushed tones about me too.
Later on in the night, after a few wines, I went to the toilet and got talking to a girl I met on the way. We talked through the toilet walls, small talk – that we liked the food, that the event was a great one, that our shoes were killing us.
Then, out under the fluorescent lights as we washed our hands, the girl turned to me, looked closely, and said,”So what happened?”. What happened to my face, she meant. “I was born this way,” I told her. “And what happened?” she asked again. Drunk people can be hard to reason with. “I was born like this, that’s what happened,” I told her. Again.
She asked me if it was a skin condition, I said yes, and I told her the name. Drunk people are also quite honest. “I thought it was a skin condition,” she said. And then she added, “The people I am with were arguing about whether it was a burn or sunburn all day”.
Right. So while I was probably complimenting some of those girls, they were discussing my appearance.
I know this happens. People ask me all the time. People stare. People ask friends or family or colleagues what is “wrong” with me. It’s curiosity. But I didn’t even think people would be spending more than a few seconds thinking or commenting about my appearance or discussing appearance in general in a negative way. Certainly not when there’s so much beauty and fabulous personalities and wonderful acts of kindness to compliment. And I thought about the shallowness of being so image focused.
I went back into the room happily laughing with the girl I met in the toilet. We went on to discuss the cute boys in the room, arms linked like old friends. She wasn’t meaning harm. But our toilet discussion left me feeling a little self conscious, and got me thinking.