I’m going to tell you a personal life story:
When I was in my early twenties, I went on a first date with this tall, handsome Swedish man. I was relatively inexperienced with romance, awkwardly shy. First impressions upon meeting him was noting he was the most attractive man I’d ever set eyes on, he looked like the actor Alexander Skarsgard.
His face was perfectly symmetrical, he was stylishly dressed, and smelt delicious. Over dinner, the conversation wasn’t really flowing well. We shared nothing in common. He was keen on a second date, but I realised, I just wasn’t really feeling anything, no chemistry whatsoever.
Years later, I start chatting to a man online. He had no profile picture. I assumed he was perhaps nervous of online dating, and that in time he’d send me one. We arranged a date to meet for dinner. Prior to this, he called me up to let me know he had hidden something from me. He was involved in a car accident in his twenties, and suffered severe facial disfigurement and loss of an eye. I didn’t have much time to react, but I said I still wanted to meet him. On the day, he texted me to advise he was already in the restaurant. I was extremely nervous, what if I stared at him?, would I find the situation awkward?
As I opened the doors and entered, I was greeted by a warm smile. For a few seconds, I noticed his facial disfigurement, but there after, we just hit it off, so much so that after the evening came to an end, he called me minutes later wanting a second date that very night, we grabbed coffee and chatted some more. When I was with him it felt like time stood still, I didn’t notice anyone around me, just him. Despite the painful multiple operations to reconstruct his face, he was always smiling, carried on life as normal, headed up meetings where all eyes were on him, he was an incredible character. We didn’t split because of how he looked, but differences in wanting children. I don’t regret him having been a part of my life, he showed me how to be courageous in the face of adversity.
Afterwards, I met a guy that I developed strong feelings for. In fairness to him, he had many good qualities; warm and generous. However, he was also controlling, everything had to be perfect, including me. He picked on my insecurity, that I was flat chested, and wanted to pay for me to have breast augmentation. The problem was that this was me, he either accepted or rejected. I didn’t want to change for anyone. I behaved passive aggressively, didn’t tell him I was hurt, and disappeared, cutting him out of my life completely. In hindsight, I handled the situation badly, but I would have maintained my ground.
There’s an enormous societal pressure regarding looks. I guess, most of us have our insecurities. Mine was being skinny. I found myself on a school trip in a hotel room that I shared with a classmate. She was obsessed with calories, to the extent of worrying about lettuce leaves. Her ideal body shape was mine. I found her spending most of her time throwing up, she was bulimic. I confronted her about it, and it all started because her younger sister called her fat. All I could see was a skeleton. I was baffled why she would want to look like this.
Over the years, I’ve come across many girlfriends that obsess about weight. I think they’re gorgeous, one tried to tell me she had cellulite, though I would need a magnifying glass to see it! Men also have their insecurities. As I’m skinny, the guys I dated would watch what they eat, and mention they needed to go the gym more often. In reality, I didn’t give two hoots about their weight. One thought I wouldn’t date him because he had severe back acne. All my concern was that he wasn’t depressed or suffering from skin irritation, I was still attracted to him.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced being skinny without curves. Life experience has taught me to be grateful for what I have, and not what I don’t. What changed my perception? Witnessing suffering of others, first my dad. From travelling the world with his career to being confined at home with his health progressively deteriorating was moving to watch. Complications with his lungs meant he had to use a nebuliser and take a number of different medications daily, coupled later with prostrate problems. That he found the hardest, as my mum would have to empty his bladder by inserting a catheter. He felt he’d lost his dignity.
Watching my father die, made me appreciate the value of health over preoccupation with looks, perhaps because I’d reached a different stage in my life. I did charity work and came across a young child that suffered severe burns, to the extent she was unrecognisable. I’ll never forget what she said, “after the accident, no one sees me as the same person, the exterior may have changed, but I’m still Emily inside.” I was moved by her determination not to let her accident defeat her.
The point I’m trying to make is that beauty is only skin deep. You can’t generalise every woman you meet to not see you for who you are. We all suffer knock backs, it’s an unfortunate part of living in the real world. Value your health, being able to learn and achieve goals, try dating, and don’t let rejection hold you back. I wouldn’t condemn yourself to thinking you’ll forever be alone, be strong like those that I’ve met…