Now, I don’t think I’m any great beauty, but I’m not too shabby, and I’m frequently told that my parents must have had good genes. I take pains to get my makeup (a.k.a. armor) right, and hell, my hair should probably have its own blog. There was a time, however, when I was…well…maybe not exactly the prettiest girl at the picnic.
One weekend when I was about 10 years old I was at my great Aunt B’s house when her best friend June came over to see her. They were ‘visiting’…laughing and solving world problems left and right. I was (naturally) right there with them, thinking how grown up I was and totally enjoying all the ‘lady talk’. During a lull in their conversation, my aunt’s friend looked me over, paused for a moment and matter-of-factly said, “You know what? Some day I think you might end up being a pretty girl, Tammy.”
I was stunned. I knew I was no Miss America, but I don’t think I’d ever really been called out on it before! I excused myself from the seat at the grown up table and took my plain (red-faced) self to another room to sulk. There may have been a tear or tw….well, yeah…I cried.
I’m sure June didn’t mean to crush me, but she was an attractive woman with two beautiful daughters, and it just didn’t occur to her that I might take offense at what she thought was a totally unbiased opinion. I actually think that she figured I’d be relieved to hear that she thought I had possibilities…sigh.
In school, I was never one of the popular girls. Now, people liked me and I had friends, but I wasn’t as outgoing as I ended up being later, and I was a bit of a teacher’s pet (a.k.a. know-it-all). And then there was…my hair. I blame my mama…I mean, who does this to a child?—>
Actually, my 4th grade picture was much worse, with longer, scraggly hair…I’ll spare you that one. I guess Mama was just doing the best she could with what she had. It’s entirely possible that she may have even gotten a 2-for-1 deal, because my poor sister had the same cut. It worked better on her though…she never liked to comb or brush her hair, and it was harder to get gum stuck in that pixie cut than in her former longer (tangled) locks.
Those of you who know me in person are probably wondering, “Hey…what’s with that dark hair…Tammy’s a blonde!?” I promise that my hair was almost white when I was a little girl…it just got more and more dishwatery the older I got. L’Oreal and I got to be good friends relatively early on in life.
Luckily, my hair grows fast, and within a few years I had that long, stringy, parted in the middle, hippy wannabe (awful) non-style that was popular in the 1970’s. For your enjoyment….my 8th grade picture. (Be sure to notice the love beads…as if you could miss them!)
Now this brings up another issue I was dealing with…that MOUTH. I never got braces as a child, and I was always self-conscious about my buck teeth. (Someday, if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you the glorious tale of getting braces when you’re 40 and about to get married…it’s a classic.) I did eventually grow into my teeth and (what I thought were) freakishly huge lips, but not without a lot of whining. My mom’s sister once told me to hush and stop worrying about my big mouth…that I was lucky to have ‘voluptuous’ lips. I was about 13 at the time, and that just sounded gross to me. At least now I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about ever having that old lady thin-lipped look, but in high school I just moped around and prayed that June was right about me maybe being pretty one day.
I’m happy to say that I eventually stopped worrying, and my face and my self-esteem are much happier these days. I did grow into my looks, and I actually think that I look better now than I ever have. As it turns out, getting to know and love yourself, not cutting your hair short, and developing life-long relationships with Mabelline and Aquanet can do magical things. I now wield a mascara wand with the confidence of a samurai, and if anyone says anything disparaging about my looks, I just chuckle to myself.
I sometimes think back kindly on June, who passed away many years ago. When that happens, I send her a secret little ‘thank you’ for getting the worst out of the way early on. I know now that she couldn’t help the fact that she didn’t fully see me, but her words finally helped me learn what true beauty really looks like.