I was 11, at school recess assembly when I first discovered that my front tooth was forward than the other teeth. A lot of insecurity it caused me, conscious about laughing, about smiling. I already had a big birthmark on my face, I really didn’t need another flaw about myself! I told my friend about it and she said, in an insinuating tone, “It had been all these while.” When I told my parents they agreed too, that my one tooth had always been that way.
One of the thoughts that also occurred to me when my friend said that was “How come all these while I felt fine not knowing?” I was surprised myself that once I discovered about the state of my tooth that I became aware of it. That of course added to my insecurities. Soon it was forgotten. My confidence built up, I was doing okay in school, I had friends nonetheless, for the first time in my life a boy liked me “because she’s smart and pretty”, and I felt fine.
At 13 another boy liked me, and me, in my high confidence, asked him what was it that he liked about me. He said, “Your smile.” That was the first time I heard that, I was surprised because I!! don’t!! like!!! my!!! teeth!!!.
Sometimes the thought of my front tooth came up again and my friend would tell me, “Your teeth is already fine!” and I looked at her, guys always chasing after her, despite her crooked teeth, then I look at my other friend who had the potential to be gorgeous (she is now) with buck tooth, and it didn’t matter.
I had a personality. I was glad people saw that instead.
Let’s skip the part where I had to have plastic surgery and suddenly random men if they used to laugh at me now they smile at me. After that I discovered so many more things wrong about my facial features. I didn’t like the wrong kind of attention I was getting, and I didn’t understand why I got the attention anyway. To me it was a “If you really want to like me, wait for me to be perfect!” My nose was too big, and my jaw was too wide. I went to dental clinics to ask about braces for this one front tooth I hated and watched plastic surgery videos to see if it would be worth it. I knew about non-surgical how to make your nose smaller, Thailand plastic surgeons were cheaper than Korean, etc. I brought back the thought of a gift my friend gave me as a joke, one that didn’t affect me at that point of time when I received it, into the current picture. The gift was a “Voucher for Liposuction”. It was as if an affirmation that people saw things wrong about me and I needed to change them.
I was so depressed about my looks, especially when I went into business meetings and somehow the meetings would include about me being an ideal wife or something. If I had looked like how I did when I was 16, would you still talk about making me your second wife or your daughter-in-law? I really felt that all there was to me was my face then, and the one whom I liked was my personality, never my face.
BUT THAT’S THE THING, YOU KNOW?
That these were just THOUGHTS I made real in my head. Your thoughts are not real, but they can create your reality. And I was living in a false reality that’s made up of dark thoughts in my head.
Every now and then the thought about my non-ideal face came up, especially when I’m dressed ‘pretty’. When I’m dressed up I feel less inclined to laugh or smile, because I was supposed to look pretty, which I am not. Which is why I don’t ever dress up much. I feel limited in my mobility and socialisation/interaction when I “feel” pretty. Here’s an example:
Heck it, guys have asked me if they could ‘save’ pictures of me (that’s why I prefer my pictures with mustache and such, I say no, by the way) and just yesterday a dude sent me a message “Your face is 😍” and “Your smile is a champion’s smile.” A few years ago statements like these would have sent my moods plummeting down into the earth, but not anymore. I am on earth, so I stay here.
Earlier today my sister pointed out that “Your teeth are not straight!” and I shrugged it off, then the cloud of dark thought returned, “Maybe that’s why the guy you like doesn’t like you back?” I’m like, eh? I didn’t view me in any bad light, but I wondered if that could be true?
Being only human, these thoughts still stay with me.
Then I thought again: Nah, I’m fricking gorgeous.
Here’s the thing: it shouldn’t matter what you look like. What you think about yourself is all in your head and it may and may not be true. You create your own reality, so do you really want to live in a world where you depend on your looks to take you somewhere? If I changed my nose soon I would be unhappy with my lips, then I’d be unhappy with my hair, et cetera.
I don’t need to change anything about myself at all. That there is nothing wrong with me.
I just need to shift my thoughts. I’ll let them linger for a while, but thankfully I know how to switch them in a snap.
When I had Instagram installed on my phone I followed Vivy Yusof and I went to the FashionValet website every single day. I think I bought at least one piece of clothing every week (not from FV) because I saw her as a fashion inspiration. I also looked at how pretty girls were, even though I don’t think their fashion is Islamic (despite being hijabis), I still admired how pretty they were. I thought I needed to be like her, or them. That’s not true. Salamahafifi would be Salamahavivi, and that’ll be a case of false identity.
Then I thought, if there could be influencers showing you how to dress or how to do a skincare routine or how to party, I figured that I want to be the one who shares with you how I think. The ability to not get caught up in a negative emotion is not a strength of mine, it is simply an awareness that I have about myself that I hope everyone has too. Imagine how much at peace we would be if we could move on easily or that we could hold on for a second before we feel triggered, or open our mouth to shout profanities back?
Like how I didn’t know about my front tooth crooked until I was aware of it to the point I remain conscious of it all the way till now, you need to be aware that your thoughts are not real, but they can make your reality, so while thoughts they come up without even you thinking, you can quickly make sense out of it, or simply shrug it off and say “It’s okay!”
So good luck. I did not share all these ugly pictures for nothing, okay.