I was an ugly child.
At least, if you’d asked me, I’d have told you that. I was reminded of it in a thousand little ways. The way my dad ignored me when I’d try to talk to him. The way he shook his head at everything I did. The way he never came to any of my performances. The way he commented about how I looked.
I felt ugly.
Though my relationship with my father was always hard, I never thought it really swayed my feelings toward the male population. I grew up in a large neighborhood where I was the only girl, and I learned to speak their language, to care about what they cared about. I was always surrounded by boys. I wanted to be like them.
I admired the way they said what they felt, then moved on. The way they approached life with wild abandon, and no fear. The way they built friendships that lasted, and even allowed in a girl or two.
But the older I grew, the more I realized that while their self-esteem was based on what they accomplished, mine was based more on the idea I had of beauty. More specifically, my own beauty. If I beat them at baseball, or built a better fort, it never seemed to measure up to the thrill I felt if someone — anyone — in my life complimented me or made me feel beautiful.
The older I grew, the more noticeable it grew. It became a hole in my life that clung to me like a shadow. I needed to feel beautiful, and felt terrible when I didn’t.
I hated that about myself.