I vividly remember sitting in front of the mirror, when I was fourteen and fifteen, looking intently at my face, trying to find ugly. I could not comprehend what it meant. “What is ugly?” I used to ask myself. I never saw or understood it, but it was not up to me to understand, I just needed to accept that others found me ugly. They communicated it in many ways, from directly avoiding or ignoring me to telling me straight to my face.
Interestingly, accepting their perceptions of me did not affect my perception of myself. I continued to focus on what was important to me and did not seek to look better or impress others. Something happened when I turned sixteen. I am not clear what it was that changed about me, perhaps I grew out of that awkward teen stage. All I knew was that people began to respond to me differently. Suddenly everyone found me attractive; guys would whistle to me on the street and boys would want to talk to me in school. I remember resenting this change in attitude toward me – I knew nothing had changed, I was exactly the same person – but somehow because my exterior changed, I was “worthy” of their attention.