HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE MY FACE
When I was young, my face became a very serious problem. Here's what happened...and how I dealt with it.
- •Most little kids are pretty unselfconscious: they live in a "Garden of Eden" state where the eyes are not opened to Good vs Bad. Same with me; I was six or seven and while I got lots of attention for my long eyelashes and pinchable cheeks, I didn't know or care what the fuss was about. I loved stuffed animals and Pac-Man.
- •In fifth grade, periodically, kids would point out that I now had "buck-teeth." I knew that one day soon, I'd need braces, but hey, braces were a right-of-passage for all teens, right? At this time, I was mainly interested in Transformers, so this news was not relevant to my quality of life.
- •In sixth grade, kids started saying that I looked like a turtle. I didn't know what that meant. Did I have a shell? Eventually, I figured out that they meant that I looked like "Cecil the Turtle" from Looney Tunes. At this time, my main interest had become a blond girl who sat in front of me in class, so the news was problematic, to say the least.
- •No mere underbite, my chin continued to recede. Paradoxically, I grew a double chin. My parents brought me and my no/double chin to a doctor for X-Rays.
- •The diagnoses: some sort of maxillofacial condition along with arthritic erosion of my jaw-hinge. The term "WTF" hadn't been invented yet. Too bad: my 7th grade self would have found the phrase quite useful.
- •By this time, 7th grade, everything was ruined. I looked like a turtle, I was interested in girls, and the doctor said no corrective surgery would be possible until I was in my mid teens. That span of time was equivalent to a third of my life. He might as well have said "This hell will last until the Sun goes Supernova."
- •To make matters worse, I was fit with braces and a headgear. On the other hand, I owned the largest collect of Transformers in Mequon, Wisconsin, so I had that going for me.
- •Being in eighth grade, at the top of the Middle School pecking order had certain advantages. Starting high school as a freshman meant a new crop of bigger kids to tell me what I looked like. I spent most of my days hiding from bullies and most of my afternoons with the same friend, drawing superhero comics.
- •Suddenly, something new! Nausea! I was unable to leave the house without experiencing debilitating nausea. The doctors ran tests. Everything came back negative. I was referred to a therapist who made me stand in front of a mirror and describe myself. I talked about my hands.
- •The next summer I had the surgery. I drank liquified hamburger and learned to swallow spaghetti without chewing. I took guitar lessons.
- •When I returned to school, amazing, no one said a thing. No: "Nice chin." No: "Whoa! What happened to YOU?" I wasn't sure what to make of this. Did the surgery not work? Were people being polite? I developed a crush on the keyboard player in my band.
- •I poached a pair of "granny glasses" from my parents' antique collection and grew my hair out. I hid behind this costume for the next five years, augmenting it in my mid-twenties with an unfortunate goatee.
- •When I turned 30, I needed new glasses. I'd brought a female friend with me and she pushed me to buy the edgiest, hippest frames they had. I got compliments from cashiers, bartenders, and baristas.
- •During a year of major transition, I surrendered my old costume and began to explore all things sartorial. I took a daily selfie to document my successes...as well as the occasional disaster. Because I was focusing on my clothes, I began to become comfortable with looking at myself. My face, I began to see, was no longer a problem.
- •I met @gabimoskowitz and soon, she encouraged me to share with others what I'd been learning about style. I began writing StyleForDorks.com
- •There are two me's. A confident style blogger. And a 13 year old turtle. There's no way to make the turtle go away, so instead, I try to be compassionate. I try to be understanding. I show him a picture and I say: one day, this is how your life will look.