Am I Unattractive or Unapproachable?

I’m sure a vast number of women (and men) have asked themselves this at some point. Honestly, I think I know the answer for myself–both.

Yes, I have pretty severe body dysmorphia; I spend copious amounts of time inspecting my face in mirrors, going over what I think is wrong with it. One of my eyebrows is slightly higher than the other, my nose is too wide for my face, I have low cheekbones, no jawline, my eyes are too small, my upper lip is too thin, my skin is flawed. The discrepancy go on and on with my face and my body. What I would give to not have the shoulders of a linebacker…

My self-esteem has gotten worse with each year. With each week, really. To be honest, I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but 23 has been the age I’ve experienced the lowest self-esteem of all time. When I look for books to possibly aid me, they really don’t delve into physical self-esteem issues; it’s almost entirely about emotional self-esteem issues. And no, I am not one hundred percent confident in that area either, but I am extremely confident about who I am as a person. I know my values, I know I’m intellectual and intelligent. I’m rational yet also emotional. I’m good at communication. I know I’m talented and capable, and I’m a great friend. I know my self-worth.

Except not when it comes to how I look, which seems to trump everything else.

It’s difficult to feel confident in how I look for a lot of reasons. I’ve analyzed my appearance with such scrutiny, and I’ve found “rational” explanations to explain why I’m so unattractive. And yes, my friends occasionally try to tell me otherwise, but they’re biased because they think my personality and who I am is attractive–not necessarily how I look. Also, throughout my entire life, no one ever told me I was attractive. Distant relatives and friends of my parents would comment on my brother and I and they would automatically declare that he was attractive. Me? I honestly can’t recall ever hearing that from anyone. It probably didn’t help that throughout childhood and adolescence, my brother actively berated me about being unattractive.

No one’s ever really complimented me (and it happens very rarely now–although I do have one friend to thank for telling me I look nice ever now and again), so I find it hard to believe.

I also know I’m unapproachable. I definitely have “resting bitch face.” In fact, I’ve had multiple people tell me I actually look like I’m on the verge of murder. At the very least, I know I look angry a lot of the time. Everyone I’ve ever become friends with has told me that before I actually talked to them (and sometimes after), they thought I didn’t like them and that I would be an unpleasant person.

Last night my friend and I went out for St. Patrick’s Day–sort of. I got looped into it, but I was glad I was sober for the multiple and extensive interactions with new people.

Soon after sitting myself down outside, I lit a cigarette and silently observed my over-stimulating surroundings: two very drunk girls standing next to me, a group of well-dressed men smoking a blunt on the other side of the picnic table, a man climbing a hardened snowbank to write something in chalk on the cement wall. A guy sat down across from me, and we made eye contact, so I gave him the inverted head-nod gesture. You know, when you quickly jerk your jaw forward in recognition? That’s usually what I do.

He was also silent, and out of my peripheral vision I caught him shooting me glances quite a bit. Eventually he asked me, “How are you?” I replied with, “I’m alright. How are you?” to which he responded, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

I laughed. “I’m alright,” I assured him. I knew why he was asking–I looked fucking pissed. “I use anger as a defense mechanism.”

We sat in silence again until I asked what was going on with him. It didn’t take me long to realize he was plastered. At one point he asked if I was single, to which I said yes. He asked why and I said, “Have you seen my demeanor?”

Nevertheless, I was happy to have talked to my new and very drunk friend.

Later in the night, my friend and I sat around the fire pit. Two of her friends had joined us as well. A bearded man in a short-sleeve button-up sat down next to my friend.

Listen, I actually love meeting new people, but I’m usually unwilling to break the ice–mostly, if not entirely, due to how I feel about the way I look. This guy eventually broke the ice for us by asking my friend what she studied at school. Then he asked her female friend. He didn’t ask me. So my friend came to my rescue and told him which school I go to, and then he asked what I studied and what I wanted to do.

It’s being an afterthought that really makes me feel hurt. It’s a pattern, and it’s a shitty one.

Soon it became just myself, my friend, and this man. The three of us talked, and we were both enthralled by his personal life for a few very specific reasons. I thought, “This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak to a man like this” so I decided that no matter what, I would ask for his phone number. I ended up asking to add him on Facebook, since that seemed more approachable (ah! That word). He seemed to happily agree to this and added the two of us. He also invited us to a party he’s having this weekend.

As the three of us were talking, a young man, extremely plastered, sat down next to our new friend. He asked the names of us “ladies.” After my friend introduced herself, he repeated her name and said “pretty” and licked his lips. Then I said my name. Boom. Not a person of interest, clearly.

We parted ways with our new friend as the lights of the bar came on and the bouncer shooed us out (although he seemed genuinely pleased that I wished him a good night; I’m sure it was a tough night for him). As I stepped outside, a dude said, “Hey girl” but I honestly don’t know if he was talking to my friend or myself.

As I pulled the car up, a man driving by honked at my friend.

Okay, I’m not wishing for myself to be sexually harassed in any way, but I’m the only female I know who hasn’t been (insert laugh track here).

And now I have this party to figure out. My friend actually can’t go, so I have to fly solo. And there’s no fucking way I’m gonna be sober for it, so I’ll have to shell out money for an uber. But that’s not the problem. The problem is, I’ll be alone. I’ve never been to a party myself. That’s terrifying enough, but even more terrifying is the fact that I barely know the host.

However, I’m very much into the host. It may be a little rash to declare that, but the more we talked with him, the more I realized how much I was aroused by him. It didn’t help that he put on an incredible red velvet blazer as we exited. What a dreamboat. Viewing his Facebook photos sealed the deal. Well, for me anyway.

Basically, I can’t determine if he was more into my friend than me. I would guess that he probably was. I just imagine him being disappointed that she didn’t show up. Also, I don’t flirt well. I never do it consciously and when it does happen inadvertently, I’m usually extremely aggressive or become a little self-deprecating to try and avoid actually becoming flirtatious.

This is a conundrum. And I don’t have therapy again until after the party happens, but perhaps that’s a good thing. I don’t know how to end this post–I guess my original statement still stands. The answer is both.

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D.U.F.F.

also known as, “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.”

I wasn’t always a D.U.F.F. Well, not to the extent that I am now, anyway. I once worked out four times a week. My legs were muscular and toned. My stomach was almost flat, which in turn made my breasts look larger. I never had hips or a nice ass, but back then, my ass was a little less flat. My face was thinner, more angular. But even then, people paid no attention to me. No one asked me out. No one eyed me or said hi to me.

My friends Megan and Susanna are not D.U.F.Fs. I am their D.U.F.F. Susanna is small and has the epitome of “birthing hips” and a voluptuous chest, and long, long blonde hair and blue eyes. She actually does look better without makeup. Her skin is the most perfect I’ve ever seen. We made out once. Megan is a little taller and works out all the time. She has a nice ass and toned legs and large breasts. Her face is nothing special, but she has that non-threatening, flirtatious, nice-girl vibe that people really like. She’s had lots of boyfriends and hook-ups.

It must be nice to peak the interest of not only men, but also women, I think. It must be nice to be perceived as attractive. It must be nice to get invited to social events. It must be nice to have a partner who loves you for who you are.

A few nights ago, Megan and Susanna went to an…”upscale” frat party. If you can call it that. The point is, everyone dressed up to get beer funnelled into their throats. Susanna’s boyfriend is in the frat, which is why she went. But she attempted to set up Megan with one of Ethan’s friends, even though Megan has a boyfriend. Megan went along with this, despite expressing her feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing. She just can’t say no. Ever.

Bennett brought up a good point last night, as we sat in her car and smoked our cigarettes: even though we’re the single ones, Susanna still chose to set Megan, who is taken, up with someone over us.

It was probably never even a thought in her head.

And all my life, with every friend I’ve had, I’ve asked, “Do you know anyone you could set me up with?” The answer has always been no. Whether that’s more so because of me than the other person, I don’t know. But damn it, stop being greedy and just introduce me to your single friends so maybe I can get somewhere in life.

As I was wrapping my friend’s Christmas presents today, Susanna sent me a text with a picture of a note from a guy named Steve who goes to MCC. He wrote down his name and number. Because she smiled at him. Because they made eye contact.

This has never happened to me. Nothing even remotely close to that has ever happened to me. But it’s nothing that unusual for Susanna. Or Megan.

So, here I am. The D.U.F.F. Eternally making my friends look even better by comparison, eternally alone in my D.U.F.F.-ness.

-Zara

“Nostalgia is a dirty liar

that insists things were better than they seemed.”
Nostalgia hits me in waves, and no, it doesn’t just hit me, it whacks me over the head. I know the memories are not always good memories. Too much alcohol, toxic friendships, and poor choices. The longing for the simpler yet terrible time of being 18: driving to the shady Chinese place in my Buick, the restaurant that never closes, adjacent to the street notorious for prostitutes, to buy five dollar packs of Senecas and hiding (failing to hide) my smoking habit from my parents. Longing for the days of community college and wet winters. That’s today’s nostalgia. Missing a bitter past, a dark past. Drinking stolen wine on my elementary school playground and drinking so much I fall in the woods, vomit over the railing and into the creek, lie on my back and stare dizzily at the stars. Sitting in Wegmans at midnight, using cheap crayons to color in shapes and cartoons meant for children because there’s nowhere else to go.

I was a child then but the days of being a child are gone. I think about graduate school, the bills I have to pay, building credit, the friends I call my best but never see. I feel disjointed from them all. The bitter nostalgia is in my mouth today, drying my tongue, and yet no tears to weep for the losses. I make dentist appointments and pay for prescriptions and have an addiction to coffee and the past. A year ago I spent my days looking for a part-time job but still got by, smoking outside in the bitter cold with my writer friends from school as a chunk of snow from the building above collapsed next to us, talking about our poetry class, worrying about grades. I am out of place in my current world. I fear it will always be that way. I will always be too far from the people I care about, and them too far from me. I don’t respond to messages and I have no motivation. I drink less, I analyze more. Nostalgia urges me to hold onto the past with a tight grasp and never let go and I abide by that instruction. Nostalgia is my authority.

I think I have learned from the past. I’ve learned to not let men take advantage of my weakness, but I’ve also learned to never let them get too close because of my own mistakes. I’ve learned that saving money is hard, and making money is harder. I’ve learned that a rejection letter is better than not trying to get published at all. I’ve learned that some friends are better left distanced, and some friends leave you and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve learned that medication can help. I’ve learned that the older you get, the less people judge based on appearance but more so on who you are as a person. I’ve learned that life is mostly doing things you don’t want to do but doing them because you have to.

Nostalgia is a dirty liar. But nostalgia wins every time.

-Zara

Dream, Analyzed.

I had a dream that Regan from The Exorcist and I were somehow in the same place, interacting. She had attempted to kill her mother and was drenched in blood, holding a knife, while telling me about this portal in the bathroom that leads to an alternate universe. I think that’s what was happening. It might not have been in that order. Anyway, in the dream, I wanted to write a screenplay about this portal, so I went into the bathroom to see it. If you pressed against the wall, it sort of opened up in a very mechanical way, but I was too afraid to go inside, although somehow I caught a glimpse of what was in there. In the bathtub, a pool of watered down blood swirled into the drain and was gone but something written in blood remained. This frightened me, but I still wanted to write a screenplay about this. Regan appeared again, completely covered in a white sheet, still holding the knife, talking about her apparently failed matricide.

When I woke up I really needed to pee but I was afraid, in my half-unconscious state, to go to the bathroom.

As much as I love dream interpretation, this is an easy one:

1: I saw a DVD for The Exorcist at Big Lots last night.

2: I think about killing my own mother. Less than I did even a month ago, but I’m sure it’s still there in my subconscious.

3: I’m going to get my period soon. Makes perfect sense to dream of blood.

4: The image of a woman being wrapped in a sheet is an image that Rene Magritte painted frequently, and as I am a big fan, that image seeped out of my file cabinet and into my dream.

5: I’ve dreamed about weird, boxy spaces and other dimensions since I was a child and it’s never been pleasant. Can’t explain that one, but it’s a recurring thing.

Alright, enough stalling. Time to do some actual work.

-Zara

Tuesday at Work, Play-by-Play.

5:37 pm. Pull into the employee parking lot and light up a cigarette, but I only smoke half of it. I smoked too many in the hours prior. Check Instagram. Not enough people liked my latest post. Bastards.

5:53 pm. Walk into work, past the man in the big coat eternally ringing the bell back and forth in front of the cherry-red kettle. I’m glad he’s at the other entrance. The last time I passed one directly, coming in from a smoke break, the dude told me to have a good night and then said something else that I could not make out. I stride through the lingerie, a sea of beige and seashell pink. Name brand bras. Who cares. I punch in, sit down next to Dorothy. I like Dorothy. She works full-time as a lunch lady in her grandchildren’s high school and she’s the most level-headed employee at my store.

6:00 pm. Sarah, one of the managers, gives a brief overview of yesterday’s and today’s stats and whatnot before leaving to go talk to the one of the guys who’s working on the roof of the building. Whoop-de-doo. I put my coat in the designated coat room, right next to the men’s restrooms. The interior smells like cheap perfume and BO. Then I bolt to the ladies’ restroom because I’ve had to pee for about 40 minutes. Why did I wear tights.

6:07 pm. Go down to denim, oh, excuse me, contemporary. Jacinta greets me in her usual dry yet chipper manner. The place is a fucking mess. Tables trashed, sale racks torn apart like we cater to hungry lions, not upper-middle class women. The rolling rod and the back register is full of clothing but she tells me the dressing rooms are cleaned out. Thank god. Except after she leaves, I discover those are trashed too.

7:27 pm. I finally finish clearing out the dressing room and somewhat organizing the rolling rod by brand. I put all the pants away. On sale? It’s not marked, I don’t care. While I’m there I straighten up the tables of jeans. I contemplate putting more clothing away before recovering, or doing the reverse. I decide on the reverse. Between all this I make some sales, a couple large ones too, but that doesn’t matter much.

I tackle the sale rack on the center pad first. Not much on the floor, thankfully, but a lot of stuff half-off the hanger because we have shit clothes and shit hangers. It doesn’t take me long. I move on to the Free People sale racks. God, what a mess. Their clothes are even worse when it comes to falling off hangers. I put it back on, it falls right back off, I give up, desiring to lie down and die in the dressing room. As that song “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” plays I imagine stabbing customers to death, laughing as gore soaks my clothes. I have to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve the abundance of abandoned shirts beneath the racks of clothing. This is it. Retail has sucked away my pride.

8:40 pm. It’s just me and the new girl, Taliba. She doesn’t even speak – she whispers – but she’s nice so I let it slide as I ask “What?” over and over. I close the two registers in the Ralph Lauren section because of course she’s never closed a register before, this is her second shift, and no one has trained her. I don’t get paid to train people, but here I am. I tell her I’ll be back around quarter to ten to help her close her two registers.

9:45 pm. I close both my registers in less than five minutes. I’ve mastered this. Sarah gives the call out that we close in fifteen minutes. I go to Taliba and instruct her. She takes all the pennies from the back register out and lays them on the counter, counting them in groups. Fuck, I wanna leave, dude. I count the rest of the coins and the bills. Bam. Done. Boom. I let her do the front register on her own, but I have to remind her to count the rolls of coins too. She doesn’t even know what we do with the envelopes. Poor thing. I wanna leave.

10:03 pm. Coat on, bag in one hand, envelopes in the other, I bring the green packets to Sarah and clock out. I text B that I’m leaving. I just want a beer.

10:25 pm. Sitting in the parking lot of Applebees. I wanted to go to Fairfield’s because all I really want is a beer but they closed at ten. There’s been an invisible hair stuck in my eye for an hour. The cigarette I’m smoking is phenomenal.

I don’t want to repeat this again tomorrow.

-Zara

Nothing New.

I’m not sure if I want to be alone or with someone else right now.

Work was pretty decent. I finally got a credit (actually, I got two), which means I get to keep my job for the foreseeable future and I got ten bucks, which means I won’t feel guilty the next time I buy myself coffee.

This dude is texting me and he’s kind of drunk and he’s telling me I’m too tall for him. Shocker.

Speaking of height, I keep wearing my heels to work because they look the best and despite being 5’11” without heels, I enjoy being even taller.

I’m pet sitting at my neighbor’s house. Bob’s Burgers is on. I brought the last two beers with me but I kind of wanna drink more than that. I feel depressed and I shouldn’t, and again, I’m unsure if I should just sit here and be depressed (and I SHOULD work on this huge paper due Monday…) by myself or invite my friend over.

Anyway. I don’t know. Here’s a song by Johnny Cash I’ve been listening to on repeat.

-Zara