How do I look?

I grew up thinking I was ugly. Part of this could be attributed to being a different (unwanted) size at each phase of my life, and the other part could be attributed to always having been associated with contemporaries who were considered good looking (hah!). Or maybe everyone who came up to me and said, “But your mother is so beautiful!” caused a little bit of pain somewhere inside the recesses of my heart.

Let’s see, there are those baby pictures, where I look like a potato which suddenly sprouted hands and legs, and a head of curly hair. Then came those years of being a scrawny kid, when adults looked at me and exclaimed, “We cannot believe you were a fat baby!”. Possibly sometime around what they call the tweenage years, I was back to being chubby, with cheeks that stayed pinchable even if I’d been sick for two weeks. The years when my body refused to acknowledge the onset of puberty and remained stubbornly childish. Watching my classmates in school, with clothes that hugged their curves, while I sat there thinking – curves? Trigonometry or algebra?

Something seems to have changed. Or maybe nothing has changed.

My teeth are still big and crooked, and after years of smiling with closed lips, I decided I’ve had enough and went back to showing my teeth in photographs. My eyebrows are unruly and thick, my hair resembles thorny bushes found in semi-arid regions on its best days. I still get asked if I want to buy padded bras to look better, my arms are called twigs, my legs are disproportionately wide compared to the rest of my body, and numerous magazines tell me my body shape is a pear.

I am beautiful.


Written for the Yeah Write #225 Weekly Writing Challenge – Personal Essays and Mostly True Stories

Editor’s Pick this week at Yeah Write! I’m almost embarrassed to admit how happy this makes me. This is what Rowan had to say:

“I grew up thinking I was ugly,” Anusha says, and then backs her statement up with an engineer’s precise grasp of evidence. She doesn’t waste a word or pull a punch- this essay would have been half as powerful if it had been twice as long. From the snide and circumstantial evidence of people’s actions to dispassionate descriptions that compare her awkward body to tubers, sticks, scrub, she builds a stone fort of reasons why the reader should believe her, and the people in her life, when she uses the word “ugly.” And then, with a theatre director’s grasp of timing, she knocks the whole fort down with one simple declaration: I am beautiful.

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8 thoughts on “How do I look?

  1. I loved your post and i felt echoing some of your points. Humans have set high standards of beauty and not everyone can climb up with the help of a ladder. But despite aĺ shortcomings each one is beautiful in mind and body. A beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

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