The Upsides of Ugliness

I'm not a good-looking woman. That's a fact. I'd say I'm ugly - not exceptionally so, but the fact remains that I'm not easy on the eyes.

I used to curse that. I used to be so upset and wish that I could be pretty and loved and worth something to men.

These days, I'm not so upset. I know ways to put in effort to look almost pretty, but it's fairly low down on my list of priorities. In fact, I'm almost pleased at being plain.

I still haven't quite outgrown my teenage misanthropic phase, which is a bit worrying, but the long and short of it is that I take a dim view of most of you. My friends are wonderful, beautiful people and have to put up with some utter fuckwits messing them around. I look like a trashcan, so the fuckwits don't touch me. Not as much, anyway.

Ugliness isn't just an external thing. It exists on the inside, as anyone with a basic understanding of humans will tell you. Now, if I were following a conventional narrative, I'd be plain (but not too plain) and also be kind, generous and compassionate.

I don't exist very well within the confines of a conventional narrative, being a contradictory and multifaceted person and whatnot. So I defy the tropes: I'm ugly on the inside, too. (Except for my spleen. That's pretty good-looking, if I do say so myself.)

I'm a Sufjan Stevens fan and one of the concepts he uses has really stuck in my mind: the idea that people have "sharp" edges, the parts where people are still sensitive about traumas, where we lash out and hurt others.

So here's a part of me that fits into a reasonably conventional narrative: I'm sharp in a lot of places. I can cut people to ribbons. Maybe you spend your time scrolling through depressing quotes on Pinterest or Tumblr about girls who do that and you want to be sad and beautiful like them, or maybe you even want to date a dark, edgy trope. Take it from someone who actually fits those quotes: there's no beauty or mystery involved in having sharp edges. It's quite ordinary and you'll hurt a lot of people you never wanted to hurt.

I learned this through painful experience. So I bandaged my sharp edges and showed my soft sides, which is why I have meaningful friendships and relationships. That doesn't mean I'm incapable of showing a little harshness.

And show it I will. I was naturally soft once, when I was younger - very, very much younger. As an adult woman I am naturally sharp. If I am not careful, you will cut your hands on me.

I am not very good at being careful.

It's not brilliant, but it's something I accept and something which protects me from people worse than I am. There are upsides to just about everything, I guess.