This morning Other asked me whether I thought I was beautiful. I’ve actually thought about the question of physical beauty since 18 months of cancer treatments catapulted me from looking fairly youthful for my age to looking outright elderly.
I do miss my lost looks. The old me—with the even complexion, thick brown hair, enviable figure and actual homegrown boobs—was nice-looking. I don’t remember feeling beautiful, but when I look at pre-cancer photographs, I can see that I might have been.
Now I feel certain I no longer conform to anyone’s ideal of conventional beauty. My skin is marred by brown spots. My hair is thin and gray. I’m bony and boobless. Men don’t do double-takes. There are no flirtatious glances.
And it hurts a bit.
But here’s the thing: I don’t feel like doing anything about it. If I put some work into the project, I know I could refashion some of my lost looks. I could get skin peels and rejuvenating facials. I could dye my hair and figure out a way of augmenting it. I could have surgery to implant silicon pillows into my chest and get nipple tattoos. Many women do all that.
I’m built differently. If people are going to dismiss me because of my ruined appearance, I say, Fuck ’em. I don’t want to live in their world.
I want to be valued for my ugly, old, contrary self. I want unconditional love. It won’t happen. But I can’t seem to make myself invest the effort it would take to craft a more lovable self, even though it might make me happier. So I’m destined to pass my remaining years feeling a little out of sorts with the world.