I appeared from the dressing room modeling a blue and white Florence Eisman dress. I twirled a couple of times. I thought I looked beautiful. Boy, is she ugly, my father leaned over and whispered to my mother as I gave my final spin. How does a seven year old remember the name of the dress she was wearing?
I remember because that was the day I learned I was ugly. Whatever I thought of myself up to that point had been a mistake. An illusion. I was ugly. No expensive dress could make up for it. They bought the dress anyway.
Why the three of us were shopping for a new dress that day I do not remember. The words spoken that day I have never forgotten.
Those words have haunted me throughout my life at different times.
I didn't have a shortage of boyfriends and my husband thought I was beautiful. Still, deep down, I knew. My father had proclaimed his daughter ugly. The words had been spoken. They lay buried just below the surface.
This weekend they were revived. Brought fully back to life by an illness I contracted.
I developed an oddly disfiguring condition called Bell's Palsy. It paralyzed one side of my face. I look disfigured. I am self conscious, and yes, I am hearing ugly once again.
Bell's Palsy is not life threatening. It is though, a threat to my psyche. There is nothing shallow or vacuous in wanting to be attractive. I'm "no great beauty" as my mother would say, but I'm presentable.
Seeing my face twisted in such an unnatural way is startling and unnerving.
As I write this I am aware of my lips feeling pouty and Angelina-like. My reflection in the mirror mocks me. It says otherwise. Boy, is she ugly.
The voice I had not heard for quite sometime is back.
My "ugliness" is temporary. I am told it could be days or weeks or months. I will not go to work for a few days. I will try to avoid all mirrors.
Boy, is she ugly, has resurfaced.