I haven't blogged in over a month. Sure, I've transcribed my adventures at H&M and the art museums, as well as my obsession with sunglasses, but I haven't written a thoughtful, honest article in what feels like forever. Isn't that tragic? I am not sure if you miss me, but I definitely miss expressing myself. This blog celebrated its one-year anniversary this past October and in just twelve months, Pull This Off has blossomed into a site that receives an approximate 12,000 monthly visits. I do not know if I deserve this kind of success or what exactly has propelled me to this place, but I have never been more grateful, excited, or inspired. It's been a momentous year, but this is just the beginning. Cliché, maybe -- but it's true. I am more confident and content with myself and my life than ever before, and this happiness will surely integrate itself into the inner workings of my writings. I expect to operate PullThisOff.com for years to come, so please stick around. You never know when I'll fall off the crazy train next.
That being said, you must be wondering what I've been doing for the past few months. Do you really not care? Well, I will lament regardless. College applications swallowed me whole and every extra ounce of energy mustered was dedicated to fueling a vivacious social life and at least attempting to complete some homework on time. Hey, it's called "senioritis" for a reason, friends! In the midst of succumbing to stress and Swing Thai, a lot of crazy shit has happened to me. Being boyfriend-less equates to being drama-free, and although it would be nice to snuggle up to an extremely handsome foreign man with tattoos, a fondness for leather, and even a motorcycle (CAN'T A GIRL DREAM!!??), I am much more enamored with being surrounded by my friends. I would pick my group of girls over any boy, any day. Hardworking, creative, intellectual, hysterical, and inspiring, my friends are the ones I call when I've had a bad day, crave greasy Chinese food, or need reassurance that yeah, that certain someone really does look like an ugly dad now. Spread across several states and several schools, there are seven individual girls that I deem my absolute best friends. And each of them is astonishingly gorgeous.
I understand that it may seem biased for me to say that my friends are beautiful. They're my best friends, after all. But if I were to name names, and if you happen to follow me on social media or go to school or camp with me, you wouldn't think twice before agreeing that I surround myself with some wondrous women. And you're probably drooling just thinking about how attractive they are. No shame, I am too.
It is within human nature to compare oneself to others. Personally I strive to make a concise effort in refraining from succumbing to this shortcoming; every person is different and brings unique idiosyncrasies and talents to the table, so I do not see the point in comparing an apple to an antelope. That is why I was shocked, speechless, astounded when a boy -- one I did not recognize, had never seen before, and have never seen since -- told me (to my face) that I am "The Ugly Friend."
Never once have I ever thought of myself as truly ugly. Sure, I did endure a lengthy unibrowed awkward stage during puberty and there was that time sophomore year when I was really, really fat... but even in those embarrassingly uncomfortable times I never looked in the mirror and thought of myself as grotesque. I might not have been necessarily happy, but I wasn't beating myself over my appearance. (After all, my confidence stems from my insides, not my outs.)
Life is a continual journey of self-improvment; I have two bushy eyebrows nowadays, thanks to Mr. Tweezerman, and abide by an insanely healthy lifestyle that not only helps me look great, but makes me feel great too. I've embraced my thick thighs, my chipmunk cheeks, my enormous eyes -- any characteristic that someone may deem unappealing, I find beautiful. I'd rather pride myself on completing all nine of my college applications by November 1st, being able to do 100 crunches without stopping, and choosing to be happy when thousands of imposing factors beg me to embrace life with a frown. This is why being addressed as "The Ugly Friend" was such a weird experience for me. What makes a person ugly?
It played out like this: passing period, exhausting day, I really needed to pee. Making a beeline for the bathroom I heard a prepubescent voice call out the name of one afore-described best friend. For the purpose of storytelling, we'll call her Pat. So, this boy called out "PAT!" loudly behind me and because I am not Pat, I did not turn around. Not until the hand belonging to the manly yet puny voice tugged on my shoulder. When I turned around, I was faced with what I presumed to be a freshman boy, but I am very bad at guessing ages so for all I know he could've been a growth-stunted teacher. Regardless, surrounded by his equally-tiny group of friends, he started blabbing away, definitely thinking I was Pat and not myself, known amongst the people of Planet Earth as "Molly."
He explained, "You're Pat! Dude, you're really so hot. I mean it, you and your little group of friends, you're all over my Instagram feed, man. Except that one girl, what's her name? Oh, Molly. Yeah, Molly's the ugly friend, for sure... she's like, short, and heavy, and the only good thing is her boobs, ya know?... And, well, I just think you're the hottest. You're smokin'."
What does one do in a situation like that? When he first began his offensive speech my mouth legitimately dropped open; I was in disbelief, more over he fact that he had confused me, the girl he was condemning as "ugly" and "heavy", for Pat, who is lithe and at least three heads taller than I am. Pat also has striking cheekbones and an affinity for sweatshirts, whereas I have huge cheeks and do not wear sweatshirts to school. But I digress:
Being the ultra-cool cucumber I am, I laughed. Yes, yes, I am an oblong vegetable that tastes great in salads and solo. Yes, yes, I laughed loudly and genuinely right in the puny little boy's face. "I'll be sure to tell Pat," I told him, raising my eyebrows. I still really had to pee. "I'm sure she'll be so flattered." The group of surrounding boys, all reeking of weed and sporting shaggy hair that desperately needed a visit to the barber, panicked with darting eyes and muffled voices -- they realized their outspoken leader's mistake, but alas, he still did not. My insulter was beaming like he had just seen Candice Swanpoel naked in the flesh. I was still laughing when I turned away, the hallway echoing with hysterics of "Bro!" and "What the fuck did you do that for?" and "That was Molly, idiot!" as my boots clicked and clacked all the way down to the bathroom down the hall.
In that moment I was not affected by the boy's unknowing stab at my heart. Truthfully, it took a few days for the wound to develop; I am not invincible. I recounted the story to a few friends, laughing off the exchange and earning compliments over being the bigger person in return. However, when I told my mother and my fitness trainer the story, the reality started to set in -- everyone knows high school boys, of all creatures, judge girls on their looks and compare them in ranks of who is "hottest." But being pitted against one of my closest friends by someone I didn't even know stung, and I started to feel myself comparing our physical attributes whenever we were together. Talk about straining a relationship! A few days of this shameful comparing made me feel horrible about myself -- after working so hard to come to terms with my short physique and solid muscles I was yearning for characteristics I would never, ever possess. My body isn't built like Pat's, and before the little freshman had confused us, I had been strutting my stuff down the hall, feeling incredible about myself. So I woke up that Saturday morning and stared myself down in the mirror until I fell in love with what I saw once more.
Every day I look more and more like my mother. Mona is a beautiful woman, and I feel blessed that I have her genes. My dad was bald and short and very muscular, and I am short and very muscular (and thankfully, not bald). I bear striking resemblance to both my parents; my physical appearance helps bridge a bond to the humans who gave me life. My big blue eyes, with their little ring of mustard around the pupils, are my favorite feature; my eyelashes are so thick and long that I never have to wear mascara. I have "pillow lips", as my dad used to say, and skin that (knock on wood) rarely produces pimples. My eyebrows are wild and thick like caterpillars and even though I make fun of my face constantly, having big cheeks is kind of fun when you can store extra food for later. (JUST KIDDING! Although I do love food.) My countless hours in the gym are paying off with visible arm muscles and with age, my collarbones are beginning to show more prominently. I don't gain weight in my stomach so I can flaunt abs (or a four-pack of rolls) with crop tops and tight shirts and my butt is really big. My mom thinks big butts are gross but I love squats SO WHO CARES? Thick thighs save lives, oooooobviously, and I am never going to get rid of my thunder thighs -- they're the one aspect of my body that, besides my boobs, I've ever hated. But now, being seventeen and about to embark on the next chapter of my life, I can't waste time worrying about chub-rub or not being able to fit in every pair of pants. My thighs help me race up stairs and kickbox bad guys (AKA my annoying little brother). While I still hate my breasts, I do a pretty fantastic job at hiding them and minimizing them, and my back pain won't be around for too much longer. I've had brown hair, I've had blond hair, and now I basically have black hair -- if I can keep it from falling out and breaking, I'm a happy Molls. Nine times out of ten, I am a happy Molls.
The moral of this confession is simple. Confidence is key, but even the most confident people feel down sometimes. No one is invincible. Words can hurt -- if it had been someone I knew that had called me "The Ugly Friend" I probably would not have been as affected. The fact that I didn't know that boy and yet he still managed to judge me on my body and my looks is what brought me down. He doesn't know that I could beat him up with my powerful right hook, or that when I laugh really hard no sound comes out at all, or that I am exposing his little mistake to thousands of people all around the globe on this very blog.
He doesn't know much about me, yet he still has an opinion. Can't we all find this sentiment relevant with someone in each of our lives? We walk around judging those around us, scanning outfits and lunch choices and Facebook photos. Our social-media crazed society is absorbed with immediate gratification; how we present ourselves to the world, online and off, is seemingly more and more important. As for me and my mystery mean man, I will never change his mind and nor do I want to. Would I want to be "The Beautiful Friend"? Absolutely not. There is beauty in anonymity, and if being "The Ugly Friend" helps me slide under the radar for a second or for a year, I happily embrace that. There is nothing wrong with being ugly, as long as you can stare into the mirror and celebrate what you see. I did it, and shared my thoughts with thousands of people. Do I love myself? Absolutely. Beauty is only skin deep, and I have a stunning liver. Do you want to see it?
Artwork by Madeline Hicks.