Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Being ugly

I don't remember the first time I was called ugly. My earliest memory was from fourth grade. A couple girls had visible crushes on this one boy, Sam. It was evident in their chasing him on the playground during recess and their constant teasing him during class, all of which was to no avail.

One day in art class, Sam and I happened to sit next to each other. We started chatting and joking around with the paint and messing up each other's art. Afterwards, we came back to our regular class where again we joked around and started cracking each other up. The two girls spied our interaction and immediately seized their opportunity.

"Oh my god, Sam likes Yellow Gal--Look at them!" they squealed. "Are you two going to kiss now? Ooh!" This was echoed by a few other classmates and followed by a chorus of giggles.

Mortified, Sam and I stopped talking to each other and concentrated on our classroom assignments. But the teasing continued throughout the day.

The next day, I was standing in the lunch line when Sam came up to me. "Look," he said, "I don't like you. You're ugly." Then he walked away.

That was my first memory of being called ugly.

The next memory I have was in seventh grade. A friend told me she overheard some boys talking about me.

"What'd they say?" I asked.

"It's not good," she muttered.


"I feel bad," she said.

"Come on!"

"Well," she started, "one guy was saying how you were ugly." She barely whispered the word, "ugly."

I felt my stomach drop. "Uh huh."

"Then the other guy said, 'She's not just ugly, she's dog-ugly,' " my friend continued.


"And then they started laughing and kept saying how ugly you were."


"Are you upset?"

Upset wasn't quite the word. What was it? Humiliated? Stupid? Or better yet, ugly? There probably was no better time to be called ugly than in seventh grade. This event perhaps preceded my I-wish-I-was-white-with-blonde-hair-and-blue-eyes phase. I can still remember to this day looking in the mirror one particularly low day, wearing black as I frequently did back then, and just hating my face. I know I wasn't disfigured, but my features were just so ugly. I actually made a mental list of plastic surgeries I wanted:
  • Nose job - to raise and narrow my flat nose
  • Cheekbone implants - to give distinguished definition to my round, flat face
  • Eye surgery - to enlarge my narrow eyes
  • "Growth surgery (Yeah I don't know how this was feasible but I wanted it) - to be taller than the barely 5'0 height I was in seventh grade
Despite my pleas, my parents did not consent to these surgeries. Eventually though, my face developed and changed through high school into college. My nose grew from my face. My face narrowed. And I learned dark eye shadow could give the illusion of illuminating eyes. I only grew a little bit more, but I figured, I'd rather be petite than giant.

And while I do believe my face did change since my youth, part of me suspects that perhaps my face didn't change that much. Perhaps it was just my perception that changed. Perhaps the real change was gaining more confidence, or more specifically, realizing that looking Asian doesn't equal being ugly.


Cat said...

I'll bet that man in the street who told you were beautiful certainly didn't think you were ugly :)

Anonymous said...

I hate those guys.

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