And no it is not because I am ridiculously obsessed with high unattainable beauty standards, or to be model-like or because I want my face to look appealing to men, I simply don’t give a damn, if I felt confident on my skin then I would go out in the world careless about what the world thinks is beautiful.
It goes deeper than this, and I never dared to open up about it because I always have the belief that if I did, I would simply confirm it, rather than work on changing it, but here I am.
I began realizing that I have issues with my face at a very early age.
It all went back to terribly young age. I was constantly left behind and unnoticed by my teachers at school, and the ones who were getting the attention were girls who had chubbier, beautiful faces.
I and my friend had a memories book, we used it to collect notes from our teachers so we can read it back when we grow up, one teacher left me a note but she wrote: “Dear my student” she did not know my name and was embarrassed to ask me about it.
I froze up at that moment because I saw her embarrassment, and I felt awkward myself knowing it was not a good idea.
She was the art teacher. But other teachers wrote my name because I had to prove to them that if you don’t see me as beautiful, at least I am going to study hard to prove to you I am smart, but I could not prove that in the art class.
And they left me notes describing me as a hard worker, smart, and rarely beautiful.
As a kid, I saw it; I was aware of it, but I did not let it affect me. I was so sharp-focused on my studies and nothing more.
One night, at 10 years old, I sneaked inside my mother’s bedroom and used one of her face moisturizers. My immune system could not handle it, so I developed an allergic reaction to it, and my face got swollen.
I went to school the next day, and when teachers saw me they were like, oh you look beautiful, I wish you continue to look like this, your face is more full and healthy.
In my mind, I knew that this allergy was not going to last forever, and was something I needed to be cured from not being praised for.
So the idea of (something is wrong with my face) was instilled in my mind very early in my life, but as I have said, I did not give it so much attention, I just developed a coping strategy which was proving that I am worthy by studying hard and being the smart kid.
Fast forward to the end of secondary school and high school, I continued being the nerd and teachers have been fully noticing me. My best friend at that time was exquisite, but this time the tragedy was not done by teachers but by her, she was constantly comparing her features to mine, and how she came out as more beautiful, she was always on the go trying to prove how beautiful she was, and I did not mind, on the contrary, sometimes I assured her points, Like yes you have long fingers, yes you have a round face and so on, But I was not always that way because I sometimes got tired of it but I did not fight her against it because she was truly beautiful and the points she was making were valid.
On a positive note, the second different thing during high school was the comments I got from my friends and friends of friends that I looked like a celebrity, I will never forget that one girl who was in another class, but when she came to ours she pointed at me and said: “Hey I can’t get over the fact that you look like Amal Maher it is so ridiculous to me, so much alike.”
And the first question that popped into my head whenever I heard this comment “Does that mean I am beautiful? is Amal Maher beautiful?”
You know that beautiful girl who was so popular for her beauty in college, yeah, that triggered me, I didn’t get that attention because I gave up on being the nerd, and professors in my college did not care about who is the nerd, they simply wanted to give the lecture and get the hell out of there.
Things got worse, as one of my guy friends was always praising her beauty in front of me, and yeah I could not fight it because she was stunning, and is one of the girls that I still look up to her.
What confused the heck out of me was sometimes people mistook me for her, everyone knew her name, they came up to me and say “Hey are you (the girl’s name)?, my answer was no but in my mind, I was like, excuse me?
And what’s funny is I did not get offended when they mistook me for her. I actually was happy when this happened.
And one dark fact, I wanted to be her.
On the other hand, one comment was very common “are you still asleep?” I did not know how to answer this, nor how to help my face being so sleepy despite being so awake myself.
That summarizes how the world perceived me in school and University but the family was different. It was worse.
But for the sake of them, I will not mention their identities.
The closest person to me used to call me ugly for fun. (And no, I am not playing the victim role here, because the fact that I am writing this and risking people really believing I am ugly is so humiliating to me.)
Relatives used to always pick on my face, my hair and that I should put more effort into them.
Another relative till this very day, the minute she sees me, she says, why is your face so thin? You don’t eat, eat more. She always does that hand thing when she describes me as if she is holding a skull.
And the funny part, she says this out of care and love, not bullying.
Comparing me to other girls was very common as well.
Most of the comments I get are real, yes my face looked sleepy, dull, and thin, Heroin chic if you will. (guess my features would have been so in back in the early 90s) anyways.
I was/am always exposed to so much stress and the first thing to get affected is my face. A day of stress can undo a hundred days of face care routines. In fact, during the days when I get under so much pressure, I become anxious about going out and meeting people because when I look in the mirror during these times; I don’t like what I see.
And if I lose some weight, my face is the first thing that loses the fat content.
I searched for solutions online; I found out that micro-needling can help activate the collagen cells under the skin to get a fuller look; I did a few treatment sessions, but I realized that micro-needling was not made to solve this particular issue precisely and it was scary. Because It was done by making tiny wounds all over your face.
My dermatologist told me the only solution was getting fillers, my facial reaction obviously did not welcome the idea, but she explained to me that the filler that we see on Instagram is fake, but in my case filler will be fixing an issue I have and not fixing what is not broken.
She continued and said that if I’m going to be worried that I might perceive myself as fake, then what about the stress and the losing of weight that made me thinner and made a hollowed under eyes area. do you think that this is what you originally looked like?
The Doc had a point, and when I told my best friend and mom they supported the idea, but I was still skeptical, so I began searching for natural solutions, more effective face products, and face yoga.
I am sticking to the face care routine till this very day, face yoga is done here and there but with so much stress in my life, things seem to not be as effective.
And here it goes. I never felt comfortable taking selfies and my confidence in being in front of any camera is deteriorating.
I have very few pictures that I used online, when necessary.
That is why (Can you show me a picture of yourself?) is the most stressful question I can get. Because it is a flashback of all this, and a confrontation of my current reality, which I am still incapable of fixing it.
After university, I began hearing the words “you are beautiful.” But whenever I hear it, my mind just gives me an error. I say thank you, but inside of me I have such a tough time processing it because it is not instilled in me. I even feel so uncomfortable when I hear this specific compliment, It is so weird that I longed to hear it when I was a kid but now I just can never take it because as I have said many times the idea is not instilled in me, and sometimes the whole concept of beauty confuses me.
How Far I Have Come
Despite this all, I am grateful for my face; I am so blessed with having a healthy one, but the issues I mentioned are still chasing me to this very day, that I can’t go out into the world without feeling so much insecure about the gate to myself, my face.
But on the other hand, I have come to terms with myself; I no longer feel the need to prove myself around prettier girls or no longer strive for attention, in fact especially in my late twenties I prefer not to be noticed or rather invisible (LOL) which is strange how you completely change the way you think to the other side of the spectrum.
And I don’t work to show how smart I am, I simply do what I do and I put so much thought into it, because it is something I love, and it is the first thing to see of me online, my work, and my personality, not my face and that is why I am more comfortable online than in real life.
The other tweak is that I am aware of my issue, yes, but now I am looking for changing it, I might consider the filler thing after all. I promise you, you will still see me with a normal human being face and not plastic, it is different. But most importantly, not heroin chic.