being ugly is liberating
to be ugly is to be powerless, but to be beautiful is to lack radical empathy
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Right now it is 3am. I think I am the most reflective at night. Maybe it has something to do with the moon?
I will spill my thoughts again and frankly, I don’t care about grammar. Sorry!
I have been hesitant on making a post about this topic for a while now even though it’s been on my mind for what feels like forever. Will it sound like I’m wallowing myself in self-pity? That I sound pathetic? But then I realized that this is just me speaking my truth. So here I go.)
This morning, I looked in the mirror and saw my pudgy face staring back at me. I noticed my skin was covered with old acne scars from when I would pick at while watching crime documentaries, and my large pores spread across my cheeks. I study them and realized that my pores look like sand dunes. I smiled, grinning at the fact that my face reminds me of a place that exists thousands of miles away from the people around me, but all I’d have to do is touch my cheeks and I am there. I looked down at my smile. Wrinkles formed around my lips and under my eyes. My dark circles and double chin becomes more apparent when I smile. My eyebrows raised and I noticed there are white gaps between each chunk of hairs. My teeth are a bit stained yellow, and I am reminded of how my mother has warned me about my poisonous addiction to coffee that has grown the past few months. I snicker to myself as my stomach grumbles. It tells me that I should probably make another cup. I gazed at my stomach. My belly is sticking out, making it difficult for me to look at my thighs.
But it doesn’t sadden me when I see all of these things. Suddenly, I felt guilty. Am I supposed to feel sad? Is there something wrong with me that I am not upset at what I see in the mirror? I thought to myself. I look through my social media feeds and remind myself that according to others, I should be upset.
A few days ago, I suddenly felt chatty. Emotions and feelings were stirring inside of me, and I yearned to let them escape. So I decided to, of course, vent into the void on Twitter and on my Instagram story:
An hour later, my Instagram DMs were flooded by people talking about how they deeply resonated with what to say and how all their lives, they always felt this way. I was a bit relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one going through this, but felt mournful that this was our reality.
The next morning, I got another notification. I was expecting that it was just my friend retweeting my post about how I adore Meenakshi from A Suitable Boy. But when I read it, my mouth immediately tasted sour and my gut twisted. The tweet responded to my recent status and said:
At first, I was fuming with anger. I looked through her profile, picking everything apart, and realized that she reminded me of a pretty girl from my class last semester. She obviously didn’t understand what I was trying to say, I thought. As I reread her tweet, the words started to sting. Is it true? Am I just projecting?
But I asked myself, why is it that ugly people, those who do not live up to societal standards built by colonization and consumerism, are the ones that are considered to be projecting but not beautiful people who constantly project their conditioning and societal agendas?
Memories flashed before my eyes of friendships I’ve had with beautiful femmes. Friendships in which they passively pushed the role of being the D.U.F.F (designated ugly fat friend) onto me, creating a power dynamic, and using my weakness to fuel their worthiness.
What am I actually projecting? Is it bitterness? Is it resentment? Yes, indeed. I am bitter because I am tired of being erased. I am resentful because my body is tired of shouting in order to be heard, shouting so desperately until I am drenched with sweat, quivering, my yelling turning into gaspy wheezes.
People are so intensely afraid of being ugly because it is synonymous with being weak. It is the determiner for who does and does not work; who does and does not Love; who does and does not die; who does and does not eat.
Heather Laine Talley said in Saving Face: Disfigurement and the Politics of Appearance, “ugliness in itself becomes a way for barring a person’s access to status, work, and love, functioning as an absence of capital.”
To be ugly is to be powerless from the systems placed against us, but to be beautiful is to be rooted in colorism, fatphobia, antiblackness, and colonization. None of which I wish to be a part of. But most of all, to be beautiful is to lack radical empathy. It means that they are stripped and deprived of understanding the world’s gospel.
However, I am not saying that if one is beautiful that they are not capable of having empathy for others, but they do not understand the mutual bond between ugly bodies.
If Allah were to give me another chance to live again, should I choose to look the same from my previous life? Choose to be the way that I am while knowing the pain it comes with? Or should I choose to be beautiful? To seamlessly be the center of attention without having to scream until my body quivers, to be a woman that others achingly wants to look like— but to be naive of the naked truth that mankind offers?
To be completely honest… I would choose to look the same as I do now. Not because I am obsessed with hustle, struggle, and pain. But because I think it’s better than being blind to the horrifying reality. I am not sure if that is a foolish decision since I would be giving up the chance to be saved from pain and perhaps life would be far easier.
But that would also mean giving up the beautiful bonds I’ve made with people that also understand the truth of the world that is so unavoidable to us. There is no power dynamic, no pain between us, just a sense understanding that ties us together for life. And I would choose that over being beautiful any day.
I am ugly, but it is a beautiful feeling. It is to be free from colonized thought. It has given me liberation from looking right at the world and forcing it to see me for who I am, no matter how uncomfortable I am making them feel.
To be ugly is to be exhilarating.