When I was a young girl,  I was a hardcore tomboy.  It didn’t help that my mother insisted on cutting my hair in ways that were less than feminine, but, more than that, I loved sports, was super fast, and took no crap from the boys in my class. Additionally, I was a straight A student and felt pretty darn good about myself considering I was a kid.

It’s still hard to believe that this same tough girl deteroriated into a male attention-seeking mediocre student come high school. It still escapes me how and why I thought I would EVER find more satisfaction from the attention of a boy than I would from following my own passions. I blame it on the hormones.

Whatever the reason, by the time I was in high school I was obsessed with my appearance. When college rolled around, this obsession didn’t get any better. What got better was that I was better looking and so I got a bunch of that male attention I never could seem to get enough of.  For the first time, the most popular boys in school (read: going nowhere kind of guys who played on the football or lacrosse team) were swooning for me.  For me.  It was hard to accept.

The scary part of this kind of validation of course is that when it passes, and let’s face it, boys who play on the football team eventually move on to their next tackle, all of those insecurities come flooding back in.

One of the things I NEVER liked about myself was my round face. If I could  find a place for a scanner in my 2×4 living space, I’d scan a picture in right now so you could see what I’m talking about. Mind you, it wasn’t freakishly round or anything — in fact, when I was 17, it even caused me to bear a very strong resemblance to the then famous Heather Locklear (before all the drugs obviously).

Regardless, you didn’t see many fat round-faced girls in magazines.  I took it upon myself to try every trick of the trade to lengthen my face, to try and “create” the look of an angular, cheekboned face.  Brown shades of blush, special contouring tools. Anything to get rid of those darn cheeks.  I hated those big round cheeks.  I liked looking younger than my years but never stopped yearning for the more accepted face. The model face.

Last week I went for a visit to the dermatologist. Nothing really on the agenda. Just a check-up. We talked about my skin and my challenges with it and she recommended a couple of lotions.  And then I asked her. I just asked her. “What else would you recommend?”

I wholeheartedly and perhaps foolishly expected her to say “You don’t need anything.” Instead, she got close up with an ungodly tool that allows her to see my face at something like 100x magnification and began to rattle off a whole host of things that would “help.” It started with Restylane and ended somewhere around Botox.

And then she said it. “In fact, with you, I might even suggest injecting the Restylane into the cheeks.”  Yes, she was serious.  She was suggesting that we PUT BACK those damn round cheeks that I spent oh so many years trying to disguise, hide, and wish away.  Those cheeks that I miss more than I would ever have imagined.

3 Responses to “Vanity”

  1. First of all, SHE (whoever she is) would LOVE to get you all shot up with stuff so she could make money. Second of all, one of the most important things you already know is that the INSIDE is infinitely more important than the outside. It’s what we need to keep running to stay healthy, it’s our machine that allows us to keep on living!!
    I love my old machine, flawed as it is. I appreciate that it keeps on running, lets me enjoy my children and grandchildren, my writing, my painting, and a myriad of other things. Of course, I wish I looked the way I did at 45 or 50, but I wouldn’t give up my wisdom for it.
    And, I tried, oh I tried, to make the boys irrelevant–but you ran into that great wall called “culture” which is geared to making girls and women think that who they are is never enough and that how they look is somehow flawed. It’s a battle and few women are strong enough to completely disregard the pressure.
    I will say that the women’s movement opened a lot of my generation’s eyes to the subtle destruction of societal pressure and gave a lot of us the inner strength to ignore the dangerous messages around so-called “beauty.”
    Keep fighting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Jen, you are more beautiful now than you have ever been and cheeks or no cheeks, you will ALWAYS beat Heather’s ass!!! Which, BTW, probably has Restylane in it :o)

  3. this makes me sad, but it’s also strangely comforting. i think we all get to thinking that we are less-than in appearance and attitude and whatever else, and believe that everyone else is perfect and no one has any problems. would i have guessed you struggled with the same sorts of issues? absolutely not! but it becomes more and more evident to me that it’s an unhappy bond most women share. and thank you for sharing.

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