Helen Whitehouse | Contributing Writer | Friday, 18 September 2015

What It Feels Like To Be The \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Ugly\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Friend

What It Feels Like To Be The 'Ugly' Friend

The Debrief: What it's really like feeling like the ugly one in your group of mates

I can pinpoint the moment I first started feeling generally just very ugly. Annoyingly, it was more a decision than an overwhelming feeling. I was 14. The boy I liked told me he’d asked out a girl in the year above, but could we carry on talking because he liked my conversation better than hers – she was just prettier?

This was in the halcyon days of 2009 and over MSN, so I said BRB, appeared offline and went to stare at myself in a mirror. And that was that. I thought, ‘You’re ugly. You are ugly.’

Now, not much has stayed with me from my 14-year-old brain (apart from that Fall Out Boy album) but the residue of my worries back then still linger in my head today. Now, I’m a fully functioning 20-year-old, but I still get this niggling ‘ugly’ feeling that manifests itself as I go about my daily life. 

Photos with friends are impossible

All my friends are beautiful. Literally. They all look completely different, but their beautiful faces make my day and are made all the more amazing by how much I love them and how wonderful they are.

I’m a strong believer that the person makes the beauty, the beauty doesn’t make the person – if you’re a good person, you’re automatically attractive, in my book – but I can’t apply this logic to myself. No amount of ‘false eyelash contour smokey eye glory’ ever changes that. I feel very comfortable with who I am in every other way, just not about the way I look. 

This particular feeling comes out strongest when I take photos with my pals. I can take a selfie as good as the next person, but group shots just make me feel antsy and uncomfortable from the moment they’re taken, to the moment I vet them to check I don’t look like a swamp creature.

But it’s SO silly and ends up consuming all the fun when someone in the group won’t stop telling everyone to take the picture again. Take the other night, someone had a Polaroid camera and was taking photos. It was a staff do, and despite consuming copious amounts of gin, I really didn’t want to be in this picture, so I just crouched down.

The picture came out fantastic, everyone up against an edgy, bricked background holding cocktails. But you can just see my knee poking out at the side. It’s up at work, and I wish so much my face was in it, showing me having a great time. But it isn’t, because I was worried about looking bad. 

Group holidays are terrifying

Everyone knows that you haven’t experienced true I’m-an-adult-now freedom until you’ve gone on your first group holiday. The sun, the sand, the sambuca, vomming on some steps outside the hotel while someone shouts at you from a balcony, ‘Clean up in aisle seven!’ Bliss. 

Mine, to Magaluf, happened a couple of years ago as I finished A-levels. We decided to book in the January. I was very tentative to say the least – I wanted to be excited, but I couldn’t. I was worried about going out every night, about being on a beach in swimwear.

I watched the Channel 4 documentary What happens in Kavos (bad idea) where a group of lads play a game to pull the ugliest bird. I was sure this would be me. When we encountered a similar group of boys on the plane (rating girls as they got on), I nearly hotfooted it home right there and then.

But I didn’t and I literally had the time of my life. Land of liberation, that’s what Magaluf is. Party all night, sunbathe all day. And the only negative comment I got throughout the whole holiday was the maid, who said: ‘I can’t clean this.’ – about our slightly (very) messy hotel room. 

You have to try four times as hard to be noticed

I’m not a shy person. I talk to anyone. I’m from Yorkshire, the county where it’s practically mandatory to talk to the stranger on the bus,  but I feel like because of how I look, I have to try four times as hard.

For example, I was at the pub the other week with one of my fit friends. We bumped into a male pal and obvs launched into chat about the last time we saw each other (a festival, great unwashed laughs all round). But weirdly, he couldn’t remember seeing me at said festival despite the fact we’d spent an evening all sat around a bonfire.

All he could remember was how he thought he was ‘well in there’ with my fit friend. Hello invisible. But the worse part of this is, I know I’d prefer to be invisible than someone call me ugly. I feel like it’s a waiting game and someone will suddenly notice one day and loudly alert everyone. 

It’s stupid, but difficult to stop thinking about

Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate how great you are. But I can’t be as kind about myself and I know that isn’t OK. People say I look like my mum, my beautiful amazing, kind mother. I want the fact that I look like her to be enough for me to like myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I appear really confident. A frequent dancer on tables/sofas/raised platforms on nights out. An interesting faux fur collection that comes out in winter. My preferred hairstyle is a blonde buzzcut. BUT I just can’t apply this sassy attitude/self love about MY OWN physical appearance.

Still, I’m trying and I will get there, it’s a work in progress, and it’s no secret that self esteem and self image are things that the human race seems to struggle with greatly. I know SO many  people who don’t do themselves justice. But you should love yourself, it’s healthy. Think positive thoughts, friends. You are amazing. 

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Tags: Friend Ranting And Raving