Ugly: Giving us back our beauty standards
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I wish I could tell myself that the difference I felt is a great thing because it gives me a very unique perspective. I’ll make a moodboard of beauty and fashion looks I want to try just because I love them and they represent me.
I now recognise it as shame; it was the first moment that I felt “different” from those around me, in a way that I could identify as negative. Being a child, I didn’t have the words to identify the feeling but, decades later, I can still feel its searing intensity. I explore the ugly truth about our beauty standards, and how pretty privilege can shape our entire lives.As 33yo woman who noticed significant changes in my body I started being way meaner and cruel to myself than ever before. I genuinely believed that people were staring at me because I was so deeply unappealing and odd-looking. You’ll have received a stirring out-of-office reading: ‘My debut book Ugly is due out Feb16th 2023– so things are a wee bit busy right now.
Relationships between older men and younger women tend not to elicit much reaction, for example, but the opposite dynamic rallies cries of ‘cougar. But I feel so much more at peace with my appearance and, instead of dwelling on the time lost feeling ugly, I feel fired up instead.
Anita finishes with just an ounce of the consciousness that you are bound to read in pagefuls throughout Ugly . I wish I could tell myself then that the things I thought were working against me were probably going to make my career in what was a very elitist industry. From the ever-growing cosmetic surgery industry, to the hidden pitfalls of ‘pretty privilege’, it is time to finally break free from those limited beauty standards, because feeling ugly should have nothing to do with how we look, and everything to do with who wants us to feel lacking.
Of course, everyone in their teenage years struggles to some extent; we’re all looking for our place in the world and it can feel unnerving not to know where that might be or be told - by exclusion – that you don’t matter. She was the perfect teenage girl: a slim, blonde surfer who sparkled as she rode a dolphin in the opening credits.
Join her for a conversation with Sali Hughes, the Guardian’s resident beauty columnist and the author of Everything is Washable. Ageing woes just don’t exist for them, and yet, for me, it’s been an unwelcome foe since my late teens, waiting for its opportunity to strike.