hello again, self-hater
This season they’re wearing skinny faded-gray jeans with wide, flowing tops. A very hate-provoking combination, seeing as skinny jeans make me look like a walking ham (nobody likes gray ham), and flowing tops on me either become figure-hugging (healthy full figure it is, huggable indeed) or resemble a sack underneath which things are happening. I am sitting in a cafe downtown and pretending to be working on my term paper on pejorative nouns in Polish dialects. Instead, I find myself applying those nouns to every girl in a dress and leggings that walks past me.
Umberto Eco had a reason to write his On Ugliness to go with his earlier work, On Beauty. These two do indeed always go together. Just look at more or less any group of girls in the street. I always feel like the one who is there to reflect the others’ beauty. The gargoyle against the breathtaking Gothic spire. The one who dressed in what was on the floor in the morning in a surge of what’s-the-use-trying self-pity. To be honest, self-pity is a big part of my day. It has its own drawer in the office, so to speak.
The only people who have ever thought me beautiful were either married or directly related to me. My first love used to tell me I was pretty, but feigned surprise when a belt he’d pick up would fit around my waist. ‘Why, you are slender enough! Why do you look so chubby then?’ Those were the days when I was actually much slimmer than today for virtue of being sixteen. In the two following years, during our difficult long-distance relationship, I grew many a protective layer. When we met again in person, ‘You did gain weight’ were his greeting words. Of course, it’s not just the weight, rather, weight is the vanguard of all the things that are wrong, easiest to pick on.
The rest of the world’s population usually pick their words more carefully, all said with love, with the political correctness of today’s world, so full of deformity that it is becoming the new form, and everyone avoids speaking up on pretty much any topic. ‘This shirt looks lovely on you!’, ‘New haircut?’, or even, ‘You look so cute with that puppy fat!’ — a very recent addition to my collection of things that stopped being funny when I reached the age of 20. Or, to circumvent the topic of beauty altogether, ‘How clever!’, ‘What nice photos you take!’ —
I do try to take nice photos, craving beauty like the monster who lives in a dark pit craves light and warmth, devouring soft creatures who wander into its trap in the hope of absorbing some of their vitality and having it reflect on its own hideous scales. (Beauty as a priority is only superficial in those who possess it in plenty, much like food and money.) I also like to write greatly exaggerated self-deprecating blog posts which to read later, when the wave of hopelessness is on the decline, chuckling. ‘It’s not that bad. It’s not what others say, it’s what you feel. Don’t you feel good about your nose? Your ears? Prime stuff, those.’