Growing Up Ugly

I grew up ugly. Not in a low self-confidence, poor body image way. Just ugly. For real. As evidence of this fact, I submit that my ex commented on seeing pictures of me in middle school that he hoped none of our children took after me. This is one of the many reasons why he is an ex.

In a cruel twist of fate, I managed to be short, too fat for juniors clothes by sixth grade, need giant pink plastic glasses to see with, have naturally curly hair that my mother let me perm and dye traffic cone orange through the use of Sun-In, have a decent attack of pubescent acne, and require braces. With headgear, no less (which resembled a medieval torture device). Yes, puberty was a wonderful time.

I can still be motivated to tears telling the story of how I spent middle school eating lunch in a secluded room with the ice cream lady after I stopped going to the cafeteria. Why? The eighth grade boys liked to hiss “You’re the ugliest girl in the whole school,” to me every day as I walked by their table. It wasn’t all bad. I got a free ice cream every day with lunch. Which definitely didn’t help the weight problem.

Why I am telling you all this? Because it’s real. Because maybe some ugly girl will read this and think, “I’m not that ugly.” Because there’s hope for the girls who are. By high school, I had pulled it together a bit. I toned down the orange hair with some decent dye and grew out the perm. I grew a few inches, and while I never got skinny, the weight redistributed itself a little bit. Braces off. Contacts. And by tenth grade, a boyfriend (with glasses and braces of his own) and a first kiss.

Did being ugly build character? Is there some moral about the ugly duckling becoming a swan here? Not really. But when I have a bad hair day now, I can be grateful. Because (as God is my witness), it will never be as bad as sixth grade. I did manage to develop a fairly good sense of humor- formerly ugly girls are the funniest girls I know.  And my hide got a little thicker- thanks to that I could ditch the nasty ex.

But really, it all comes down to accepting the ugly girl. Along with the far-from-ugly woman she has become.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Growing Up Ugly

  1. bipolarlawyercook

    Oh, I feel it, former fat girl as I am. And I hope I am funny as a result. Something ought to come of all that adolescent nastiness.

    Eleanor: If I am any judge, you have funny sewn up. And I would take the weight back if I could eat some of the food you show coming out of your kitchen….

  2. Hi, I just found your great blog. I remember feeling this way too. It was exaccerbated all the more because in grade six my mother wouldn’t buy me new pants (we had a uniform) because it was my final year. Thus my clothes were too tight and I felt even more too big and too fat. The boy I had a crush on pretended to throw up at the sight of me. Ahhh, memories!

  3. I am so glad I am grown up now. Seriously.

  4. Thank you for sharing… these are stories people need to hear.

  5. Thank you for this.
    I firmly believe that sixth grade is the most horrid year of anyone’s life. Hands down. I entered sixth grade with a mullet hair cut, big plastic glasses, a retainer and the fashion sense of a girl who had obviously been in a uniform in the previous years. I remember being horrified when someone asked me (on the first day of school) “Why aren’t you wearing a bra?” The answer? My shirt had a neckline that was too wide and my sports bra would obviously show through. And I didn’t own a real bra yet.

    Needless to say I spent the next 3 years studying YM magazine like it was my job and somehow pulled together a decent sense of fashion by the time high school rolled around. But, ugh. Sixth grade. Now I sometimes speak to the boys who teased me mercilessly when I was in sixth grade.
    They don’t remember doing it.

  6. Lina

    Although I was also the “fat” girl in my school, I had it good compared to others. My mom gave up a few of her luxuries so she could buy me the nice clothes I asked for. (I matured, mentally, faster than all my other friends and dressed very sophisticated if i do say so myself haha)

    Sixth grade was most horrible though since it was the year I got braces, had to act as Switzerland between my two groups of friends that clashed like my 80s clothes a the time, and found that I was really lonely even though I had friends.

    I am so glad that I’m older and can walk away or spit fire right back if someone EVER says anything to me (which is hardly ever because most people have also grown up by now) that I haven’t planned kids in for the simple fact that I couldn’t handle it if that ever happened to mine. ‘Cause I would march over there and murder the little….. yeah, I understand you 110%. haha

  7. I was quite pretty growing up. And thin. I only realized this recently. But because of the way my clinically insane Mother raised me and the rest of my screwy family treated me I have felt hideous my entire life. After having my son 13 years ago I got the plump body to match my feelings.

    In my mid-30s I am re-gaining my self and starting to feel beautiful from the inside (sometimes – but at least it is sometimes)

    We would have been friends back then and I would have kicked all the mean boys in the balls. I am also quite loyal.

    8)

  8. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories (and for the offer of some ball-kicking, blueseaglass!). Isn’t it nice to be grown up now? Deep breath. Yes. Yes, it is.

  9. Sixth grade was pretty bad, but I really hit rock bottom in junior high. I was fat and my face was always shiny, and I wore clothes that I thought made me stand out but in hindsight just made me look weird. My favorite earrings were a giant letter B on one ear, and the other was a dangly with the word “Cool.” I have really thick hair and my mom had a rule that it was “too hot for hair” in the summer, so every June she would have it all cut off, boy short, at the barber shop, so finally being allowed to grow it out in junior high led to some seriously awkward between stages. I was so unattractive that one year my mother just refused to buy my school pictures. By the time I got to high school I had thinned out some and gotten cute, thank God. Three more years of mean-spirited fat jokes might have sent me over the edge.

    Eleanor: Where, oh where, can I get some “B Cool” earrings? A must have.

  10. It’s funny when people don’t recognize pictures of you as you. I don’t know if there was any helping me in the 7th grade… I was just plain ugly! And I’m sorry, but I will never, ever feel as bad for the pretty girls. It’s not nearly as hard to be cute.

  11. ugly built bitterness in me and a lack of confidence in the beauty of others. if being ugly helped make me a more intelligent and intuitive person, it seems only fair the beautiful ones are lacking in something. you know, that i have.

    tough mental game. the character part is real, though.

    Eleanor: I always think it’s unfair when pretty people are talented or clever. Spread the wealth around.

  12. Wow! I was homely as a child on top of growing up with a family that way different than most. As many of you have commented, I too, came away with a great sense of humor. Also, came away with a wonderful gift of really knowing myself. I tried to express this in my new book, “Growing Up Ugly: a story of finding the beauty within”. Thanks for letting me share!

  13. Jodie

    As i grew up, sixth grade was terrible, i was butt ugly, all of the boys made fun of me and i had no freinds. I was always jelous of the Cheerleader Pretty and Popular girls. I had a hard life. I was fat, ugly, and wore glasses and had short boy cut hair. All of the Eighth graders made fun of me and called me “The Ugliest Girl on Earth” I cried about it everyday. I always told myself that i would someday be thin and pretty. Well that day has come. Im finally thin and had my first kiss. All of thos ugly days has payed over. I realized that just because your not skinny or on the cheerleading squad, doesnt mean your ugly, you are beutiful the way you are. :)

  14. I love that this is so honest and real. A great portion of us do grow up ‘ugly’ throughout school (myself included). It is character building and it does teach you to have a sense of humour.

  15. Pingback: True Confessions « ELEANOR’S TROUSERS

  16. Andrea

    When I was around 12, my grandmother told me that when I was born my mother cried because she thought I was so ugly. She wasn’t kidding. An uncle posted some middle school/early high school pictures of me on Facebook and when one of my coworkers saw them she laughed so hard she almost hyperventilated. I was beyond skinny, with braces, frizzy hair, coke-bottle glasses, and an unfortunate fashion sense. I got my act together around sophomore year and discovered contacts and hair products. By the time I graduated people on the street would stop me to tell me I was beautiful. But at that point the damage had been done, and even now, 20 years later, when I look in the mirror I still remember that my mother cried when I was born.

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