about my face

Formalities: happy new year! (It felt strange not to capitalise that.) I hope your holiday season was lovely! I hope some people got over their irrational anger over the phrase, “happy holidays”! Congrats on living to today! This is a little mess of what I think will become a little collection of essays about my insecurities on the internet. Yes, that is dangerous if some day someone finds a way to use these all against me in some super saiyan attack. Yes, I am posting it anyway.

Hello, gang.

It’s 3:57 AM and I have a day full of adulting that includes seeing other people (some of which include people from church and a 10th grade weeklong boyfriend), talking to university management, sort out this ear infection from hell, do my laundry and go to the pharmacy.

It’s not the busy that bothers me, really. Nor is it the lack of car, the ineffective public transportation system, or the lack of sleep I’d have gotten by the time I need to be up. It’s the fact that I have to see people. It’s also not the people that are the problem. It’s my face.

This isn’t a pity post. Even if it was, that’d be fine because this is my corner on the internet. This is a sort of…organising my thoughts about my face and my dislike of it post.

Growing up is hard to do. Growing up as a cis female in a somewhat accepting society has been a lot easier than it could have been, but it’s still been hard. I can’t say really when it started, but I think as I got older and became more aware of myself (and in turn, my face) in society, I really really didn’t like it. I just didn’t like my face.

For a while, it was anti-blackness. Oh my GOODNESS did I want to be white. It was a messy, messy stage, and I’m glad to be past it, but I understand where I was coming from. I was in the middle of primary school, and I wanted to be pretty. It was that simple! I was already smart, but every book I read told me that being just the smart girl was not enough to be liked by anyone; that the pretty girl always won; that the smart girl gets bullied, and that the smart girl only wins if she becomes pretty. So I wanted to be pretty. Pretty in 2008 was a petite white girl with blonde or brown hair in a pony tail some days and in two another. I wanted pretty, and I couldn’t attain it. It made me sad, because I didn’t really understand why I couldn’t be pretty. I had never done anything to make myself particularly ugly, except that one scar on the bottom of my chin. Why couldn’t I just be white?

When I got to high school, my sister told me that I didn’t like my face because I didn’t take care of my skin. A plausible reason, I took it seriously and started a face care routine. I also started watching Glee and did almost exactly what Rachel Berry did because she was a star and goddammit if I wasn’t going to be a star! My skin was pretty good, and I never really went through any bad hormonal changes in terms of it. I hated the fact that I had this baby moustache that I couldn’t get rid of, no matter how hard I tried to pull every hair out, and three or four random hairs near my chin stitches’ scar. I used to think they were the scar’s fault.

I learned the magic of threading and how a little less hair on my face could make me feel so much better – and I never really understood why that was so – and really wanted to feel better. And some days, I do! Some days, I think that my face isn’t too bad a face. Most days, I talk about how I want a head transplant but want to keep my brain.

I don’t like my face. I don’t like that it looks smooth but really isn’t. I don’t like how it makes me the go-to less conventionally attractive friend (cue society denying its very, very loud anti-blackness). I don’t like how, before, when I liked my body, I felt as though I could achieve much more if I did a trade-off and got a face that matched the body of a lean, strong, smart dancer and athlete. I don’t like how make-up brands think that black people darker than the preset brown on MS Paint don’t exist. I don’t like that for a year I decided to pull ridiculous faces in every photograph, because I figured I’d rather look bad on purpose. I don’t like that my hair made such a difference on how I felt about my face, and how I only felt pretty when I had enough hair to put into one long, flowy pony tail, or sometimes two. I don’t like how people answer, and will answer, “but you’re pretty, Shalom”, because it does nothing but make me feel bad for having convinced them to speak with that pitiful lilt in their voice. I don’t like how I’m fighting back tears while I write this because I don’t like how much I don’t like my face.

I don’t like my face, and I really wish I did. I wish I felt the slightest bit better about it. I wish my mother and sister didn’t say “but if you just _____” every time I tell them. I wish I could take it seriously when I get called pretty amongst my friends. I wish I could help people to understand that I’m really not being modest, and that I really can’t accept compliments because it feels like fraud on a massive level. Pity fraud. I wish that the lipstick, the eyeliner, the gold eyeshadow, the glasses that used to make me feel better still did. I wish I could work out why I felt like this. I wish I liked it here.

I don’t know if I just need more therapy or if I’m just going to keep on feeling this way for the foreseeable future (I hope the former), but I’d like to not feel this way in a couple of years. Self hatred can be really tiring, you know? It also plain sucks.


an awful quality webcam photograph courtesy of five a.m.

It’s after 5 AM and I have to be a human now. Now, you know even more about me than you’d thought you would. Do your best to have a good day. Do your best not to put any more hurt in the world when everyone’s doing their best to deal with their own. Congrats to Donald Glover and Tracee Ellis Ross on their Golden Globes!

Good morning.

love and light,
shalom xo

3 thoughts on “about my face

  1. Lorelai says:

    hi Shalom!

    This post. It just-ughhh, so good. And it hit close to home, too. So close to home.
    I totally understand how you feel. When i was younger, I too, thought that I was not pretty, that I was never gonna be pretty.I also remember wanting to have a paler skin.
    My best friend in 6th grade was everything I wanted to be my whole life: porcelain skin, sandy hair, eyes the shade of the tide when it retires. I, on the other hand, am of mixed descent, and it shows: Indian, French, Spanish, African, Arabic and maybe even a little bit of Chinese. I spent my childhood in Reunion Island (not too far from where you’re from if i am not mistaken), where the sun shines hot the whole year long so my skin was a little darker than café au lait. I was the smart girl, npt the pretty girl. I remember reading books and wishing to be just like the girls I used to read about. I remember never being able to identify to them because none of them were like me. I remember wanting to wear contact lenses (even though I had 20/20 vision) just so I could hide away the deep shade of brown of my eyes. I remember feeling terrible because I was the only girl with dark skin in my group of friends.

    And then one day, I said fuck it. Honestly. I don’t know how it happened.
    I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to do. Of course, I’m not entirely happy with the way I look sometimes- I could probably lose some of the love-handles, i hate that little pouch that is my belly, I know my face isn’t symmetrical enough to be considered beautiful- I could go on and on. But fuck it, I’m beautiful.

    And you are too. ❤

    (And again, this was a great post, and I love your writing! xx)

  2. Tara @ downtownsong says:

    This hit me so so so much. Ouch. Right there in the feels. About other people saying you’re pretty and that NOT HELPING. About relying on hair to feel beautiful … to cover up, to hide behind. About making faces on purpose. About the internalised racism. About feeling like a fraud as well. Ugh.

    This post rings so true.

    For me, wearing makeup and dressing up and using Snapchat filters and very carefully posing in photos does help me to feel better about my face, but then I get a dilemma because … that’s not how I always look. That’s not how I usually look. I don’t want makeup to be a “crutch” and I don’t want to feel like I’m naturally ugly.

    But it’s so much less simple as magically learning to love your looks.

    I really don’t know how to solve the problem, but I guess it’s maybe about holding on to the little things … little things that make you feel like maybe you are pretty … even if just a little little bit. In a certain angle. For a split second. Because if you can see yourself as pretty for a moment, maybe that will gradually turn into longer moments. And I guess maybe realising that many people don’t like their faces at all – and yet are really beautiful – might help, because honestly we tend to have such distorted perceptions of ourselves.

    Anyway, I love your post and happy new year (although a little late) <3<3<3 Hope my ramblings made sense.

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