Did you ever hang out with ugly girls so that you could feel pretty?
Of course, “ugliness” wasn’t the only prerequisite. These girls usually had killer weed. And they were really slutty and good at shoplifting from Bootlegger and Claire’s. I had one girlfriend with especially sticky fingers. Her name was Val, and she was too big to wear a lot of the tank tops she lifted. So she gave them to me. This was high school, so they were always really low cut and/or see-through. I wore them with low-rise jeans and Sketchers. Hot.
Val and I had fun together. We lived on the same block and were into the same things: stealing Southern Comfort and/or Ativan from her mom’s stash, and listening to Dr. Dre really loud while chatting on mIRC.
One time we accidently took Lithium and got really sick. I remember taking a bath and throwing up in it.
Val took me to lots of parties. She was loud and obnoxious, and she knew a lot of people. I was weird and quiet, so I didn’t. But thanks to her, I was hit on a LOT. Mostly by the kind of guys who wore black t-shirts and gold chains. She paraded me around, introducing me as her “hot friend.” I was aware that I considered myself “better looking” than her. This was a conscious thought, but not one I would have ever voiced.
Did you ever “date down”? I did. I dated lots of gold chains, lots of workplace math students, lots of zeroes.
Did I consciously pick mates who I perceived as physically, mentally and/or socially inferior? I always said that I could never date a guy who was prettier than me. Which can only mean that I defined myself by who I was standing next to.
I dated a chubby guy once. He was simple and sweet. He drove me places and bought me things. I recall feeling unbelievably attractive every single day. It helped that people would inevitably say things like, “What’s she doing with him?”
After we broke up, I ended up with someone who was considerably smaller than me in height and weight. I’d never felt more insecure. I felt fat, and I whined and starved myself.
When it was over, I was normal again. Although normal for me was always insecurity accompanied by frenzied bouts of vanity and narcissism.
Who am I when I’m not with you? Am I ugly or pretty? Fat or thin? Crazy or sane? Stupid or smart?
Where lies the value in human relationships? Can I answer this question honestly, without self-censorship?
Sometimes when I’m feeling blue, I surf the internet for the latest Lindsay Lohan limo wreck. I Google Amy’s tracks or Britney’s baby weight. And it actually makes me feel better. It’s not so bad; I am not she. Schadenfreude is alive and well and breeding inside me.
Now I’ve said it, I’ve aroused it. Who is this ideal against which every person including myself is compared? Where does it live and what does it eat for breakfast?
It exists in the underworld. It wears moist fish skin. Awaiting exposure. The ruin that recognition brings.