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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Drunk, After Party

I’m a solo cup of rum and butter and cider in and I feel the warmth hit my stomach like a bomb.

I just can’t escape the trenches.

I ask her, “Do you want to leave?” because, despite her sobriety, she’s nodding off on the damp stoop.

“I’m fine,” she says. That’s all she ever says.

So, okay, I go beer after beer deep.

On my third (?), a tall lanky guy who introduces himself as _____ stops in front of us. I first notice his costume; mistake it as Waldo “humping” a leprechaun but he corrects me–he’s riding a leprechaun. He comments on my t-shirt, he asks what I thought about the remake. We talk. He seems stable. Nice. Sober, because he has to drive an hour and a half home.

“You drove over an hour for this?” I ask.

Fast-forward.

The warm feeling has burned out but the inebriation in my brain is full force. I’m socially lubricated and my body is loose. I’m leaning against the wall, I’m laughing at stupid things I overhear. I’m talking to a kid who is younger than me but graduated with a four-year degree sooner than me. We went to high school together. I’m friends with his ex. I have reason to dislike him; I do dislike him.  Yet, his stupid banter and commonality between academia is much needed at this time in the night. Him and his girlfriend are even more of a social lubricant.

“Gangster.”

“Can I buy a cig off you?”

“Mugwort.”

“The competitor of Uber.”

They start playing a live rendition of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer and I tap my foot against the stoop.

My old neighbor, younger than me, probably has an IQ of 150, has travelled all over the world, is as lifeless as I remember him being even back when we were small and played house and I got a mouthful of sand and dirt in my mouth and he kissed me.

His house was full of secrets and dimness and smelled like sugared cereal.

I have moments of introspective drunkenness.

It hurts. Vaguely.

My ex-neighbor sort of encourages me to take a Jello shot. Sure, I’m all about having more vivid dreams. I like to remember pain. I usually forget. I swallow a slice of clementine. The Jello is slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and a vivid orange. Where’s Waldo joins me–this pleases me.

I feel dumb.

She and I go back out for one last smoke. I tell her, I’ll talk to him before we leave. Before we leave, though, he’s walking out and we’re telling him to have a good night.

There’s a certain kind of loneliness the stems from being intoxicated, even if you’re having a good time. There’s a moment–perhaps you’re in the bathroom, or you’re having a cigarette, or reaching into the fridge for another beer, or standing against the wall. But it’s there. It reaches up into your  brain and tugs on your flaws, your insecurities, your hopes, your dead dreams.

In two years, two months, two weeks, two days, two hours, this moment, this night, this experience–it will not matter.

 

Less Than.

On my days off I sleep for ten+ hours, which is excessive and gross. I blame my new schedule, work, and my medication (the Latuda, specifically, which I recently increased and does nothing except make me more anxious). I want to decrease my dosage, against my doctor’s orders, but as bad as the side effects are now, I don’t want to know what the withdrawal will be like.

Jealousy permeates me to the core. I feel bad because I’m making others feel bad. No one wants to listen to someone tear themselves down, and incidentally blame others for their shortcomings, but it’s become habit for me now. I just looked at myself in the bathroom and was proud of the new glute muscle I’ve achieved–I’ve never had an ass before–but then immediately thought about how my best friend, who is more beautiful than I could ever dream to be, started doing squats so really, it doesn’t matter how many wall-sits or squats I do, or how toned my arms are, because I will always be the less attractive one.

It’s hard to be constantly surrounded by and associated with such beautiful people when you are not included in that sentiment. I know my friends don’t see it that way–how could they? I’m one of them, in their eyes, but I am not.

The thing is, it’s not as if I’m not trying. It’s just more effortless for other people. I have to try and look socially acceptable and I barely manage to do that, and I certainly do not pass for “attractive.” For my friends, they don’t have to do much. One of them doesn’t even wear makeup. The other lost weight because her medication decreased her appetite, so she just doesn’t eat. The other is just naturally alluring, but I haven’t quite figured out why.

This sounds pitiful, it really does, to go on and on about being less-than. But I know what I am.

Fat People Are Still People

I’ve been binge-watching New Girl on Netflix (don’t judge me too harshly – I know it’s a terrible show, I’m just in a bad state of mind and want something stupid to kill time) and in the last episode I watched, there was a flashback scene to one of the male roommates, the currently-cut, working, sleeping-with-a-model Jewish frat boy, when he was fat. He was on the couch, making out with a girl, also fat. Of course, this scene was intended to be funny. Fat people are funny, right?

As someone who’s basically always been overweight, this portrayal of “fat people” on TV and in movies is quite aggravating. Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, even “Fat Monica” from Friends…the list of “fat characters” and “fat actresses” (and actors, but in particular, actresses, let’s be real) goes and on and on and there is one common factor: all of the characters are meant to be, pun intended, big fat jokes.

Fat people portrayed in the media are not portrayed like “thin” people or rather, “normal” people. “Normal” people and characters are allowed to have romantic and sexual feelings, have good and “normal” sex with other “normal” people, go on dates, have good jobs, and are treated fairly in the world, generally speaking. Fat people and characters, on the other hand, are not allowed to have romantic or sexual feelings – that would humanize them too much. A “normal” man going on a date with a “fat” girl? That’s a joke. Literally. It’s okay for the guy to fall in love with the nerdy girl, but never the fat girl. It’s okay for the girl to fall in love with the nerdy “nice” guy, but never the fat guy.

I know people have discussed this on the internet time and time again, but I actually never felt personally affected by it until today. Because I am insecure. And I am “fat”. And seeing these sad, inaccurate, hurtful portrayals of “fat” people in the media only fuels my own personal thinking that I AM NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL FEELINGS. And that’s wrong. It’s so, so wrong. But it seriously just makes my own argument stronger in my twisted, emotionally damaged, fat mind – why should someone ever take me seriously or love me or want to be with me and how dare I want someone or want to be loved or want to be taken seriously when I am fat?

Fat people are still people. We do have feelings. We do fall in love. We do want to be loved back, also. And I, among others, really need to learn that that is okay.

– Z