Contributors * more photos to appear soon

Contributors * more photos to appear soon
Christy Namee Eriksen, kim thompson, Jon Schill

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

contemplations on growing up ugly... an essay of sorts

*based on recent conversations that keep coming up on how we grew up and where we grew up and who we grew up around and what we were taught to believe to be "beautiful"


our exceeding obvious
lack of
blonde hair
blue eyes
and white skin
being an all self perception shaper

"you could be a model for benetton" j.s. said ... this being at the time when benetton was going through a period of putting what we all considered to be highly unattractive people on their posters... this being after she had assigned vogue, gap, the banana republic, and 17 magazine to everyone else on her private my dad's a lawyer party bus for jr highers... magazines and stores that we all considered to be the creme de la creme of beauty... (we were afterall 13 or 14)

exceedingly clear to many of us
due to lack of dates in jr high and highschool
the only thing we were good for was
being the "asian friend" or some kind of forbidden exotic fruit

"you know you asian girls have really tight p*ssies" was c.s's idea of a compliment ... and as the student council president he "bequeathed" this statement as some kind of boon from his elevated status.

for many of us growing up where we did
as we did
we accepted "being ugly" at a very early age
without any sense of drama
it was like accepting
that the color of the sky is what it is.

"t.d. likes a chineeeessseeee... but you say she's just a friend but you say she's just a friend... oh baby you... you got what i need... t.d. likes a chineeesssseeee..." was the response that was sung at t.d.'s school upon his stating that he would be taking his best friend k.t. to his jr. sr. banquet. (christian schools dont do proms they do banquets... another story for another time)

exceedingly clear that if we were
blue eyed
white skinned with a tan
maybe we wouldn't actually be so ugly...
but never really needing anyone to tell us this was not the case
because well
we just knew it was.
suspecting that the only other option our ugly selves would have would be to become the school slut...
or to hedge our bets on others wearing beer goggles...
the highest compliment back then being the standard staple of
"so you know karate? you related to bruce lee?"

"i know karate. so if you dont leave my friends alone i will...... HI-YA!" 6 year old version of k.t. threatening a bully at church... it worked... k.t. was small and didn't even really know what karate was except that you said "hi-ya" a lot

many of us growing up in the kinds of towns, villages, or suburbs
where the homecoming court mainly consisted of
white girls
with good tans
we'd accepted we'd be voting from the sidelines from a very young age.

"like ohhh my gawddd you are like soooo popular and beautiful and nice of course you'll be queen" we squealed to the white girl with the really good tan and long line of boys queuing up to date her...

... exceedingly clear that our "ugliness" was not so much a defect
but a fact
and so we probably would one day end up marrying some white guy that we met in college
a white guy who had a thing for asian girls...
so we were free to worry about other things like
where we'd go to school
and what kind of job we wanted
as our looks were not going to be getting us anywhere
and some of us weren't inclined to being the school slut
and those who were never got a sense of being beautiful from it...

we have these conversations now from time to time...
adults... in our 30s
having had it only recently if at all begin to dawn on us that
maybe we aren't ugly
that maybe we never were ugly
but that we still see ugly or nothing in the mirror
like everything else about our stories
we cant go back and put ourselves back together
and tell our past selves
"ermm listen youre not actually ugly you know."

whether or not knowing this... would have changed anything for us
we speculate on...
some of us may have been a little less... "easy"
others of us may have been a little more... "easy"

the good side being (if there is one) is that none of us tend to fish for compliments when it comes to looks due to having accepted so long ago that there were no compliments to fish for.
so no matter the bravado we pretend
many of us still feeling
just like that duckling
startled to see a swan
staring back
and still living like ducklings.

but the fact that many of us
have finally begun to move into the idea that
beauty really isnt determined by
blonde hair
blue eyes
and white skin
with a good tan...
is a step in the swan's direction

and for today
that step

one day perhaps
we shall be able to
trumpet proudly as swans
but even if not
at least we're finally getting that
werent ugly all those years.

kim thompson. posted 15 dec '11 thurs 12.08 written 14 dec. wed. seoul. s. korea

1 comment:

  1. one reason i always liked the ugly duckling, though written by an awkward white fellow, who himself was out of place in many respects