Thursday 11 September 2008

Let's hear it for the boys.

Last night I dreamt that my hair had grown back long enough for me to be able to go out without a wig. I was meeting up with some friends (as is always the case in dreams, it was a really disparate bunch that no real-life circumstance would ever put together) and we were due to be having some kind of water-fight-themed summer party in Tills' back garden. Thinking that I could get away with sweeping the front bit of my barnet back to disguise my balding crown (still the one part of my head that refuses to hang onto a decent fuzz), I tied up the rest of my hair into a ponytail and crafted a mini-bouffant at the front that I proudly wore to the party. The thing was, my new 'do didn't quite get the reaction from my mates that I'd hoped, considering this was the first time they'd seen me since being able to ditch the wig. I tried to forget about it and instead occupied myself at the party throwing water balloons and firing super-soakers (now there's an idea for My Super Sweet 30th) until one of my friends pulled me to one side and asked if she could have a word with me in the bathroom. When we got in there, she stood me in front of the mirror and I looked at my reflection to see that my carefully crafted bouffant had fallen flat to reveal the glaring, bounce-light-in-all-directions bald patch. I was mortified.

You don't have to read much into my dream to figure out my current state of mind. I'll make no bones about it; I've felt pretty bloody miserable this week. (News just in: cancer gets you down. Who'd have thought!) It's mainly a self-confidence thing, and by 'thing' I mean I've barely got any left. Actually, that's an exaggeration – I do have self-confidence: confidence in my staying power and my toughness and my ability to keep smiling and always find an inappropriate joke. What I'm really lacking is confidence in my looks: I'm on my final descent into uglydom.

It'll probably sound ridiculous when I reveal that what's prompted this crisis of confidence is the loss of my first few eyelashes. After losing my hair and waving goodbye to my cleavage, it hardly reads like a big deal. But it's just one more element of feeling like a woman that I'm losing my grip on, and it's really bloody frustrating. I appreciate that, as a lass, it's easier to cover up the unfortunate, appearance-ruining side-effects of cancer (whack on a wig, slap on some make-up) and I'm grateful to be able to do those things. But realising that your husband has prettier eyelashes than you is a bitter pill to swallow.

For an extra-self-conscious, image-fixated 29 year old, this kind of stuff is difficult to deal with, and I guess letting it get you down occasionally is an inevitable part of the leave-your-vanity-at-the-door reality of The Bullshit. It's an easy spiral to fall into, and one I'm not going to give myself too much of a hard time about. It was always going to happen: here I am, spending all my time in the same place (it's a good job I love this flat so much), in the same slob-around jeans, staring at the same walls adorned with the same fantastic wedding photos of me looking beautiful and P looking handsome. I look up at those photos and, happy as they make me, I can't help but shake my head and say to the bride, 'Blimey, love, you haven't got a clue.' Neither has the groom, for that matter – little did he know that within 20 months he'd be married to a real-life version of Tweek from South Park. (Yes, I'm still obsessed with what I look like when my wig's off. And at least the Tweek similarity is better than my conclusion earlier this week that I look like Ted Danson's love child.)

I'm not fishing for compliments with this post. This isn't a vehicle to subliminally persuade you to comment with lovely, thoughtful things about how I'm still beautiful to you (P keeps using that line and I don't believe him either). I have mirrors. I know all too well what I look like (each time I can bear to check my reflection, I shock myself at how much uglier I've got since the last time). And, nice as it is that you might want to persuade me otherwise, we both know what we're dealing with here – and it doesn't look good. But none of this is my point. Because – in a week when I'm clinging onto the last shreds of my self-confidence, when I've started losing my eyelashes and when Posh Spice cuts her hair super-short to remind me that in no way will her elfin cut look good on a curvy girl – two wonderful, stay-in-my-mind-forever remarks came my way from the unlikeliest of sources (ie, boys).

The first was from one of my best mates, JB. He's one of the most thoughtful men you could hope to meet but, that said, he's not one to offer up an easy compliment, even at a time when you might need it most. (I remember once going to meet him in town while we were seeing each other, and me trying really hard to look impressive despite a crippling hangover. I thought I'd done a decent job, too, until I strutted over and he said, 'Wow, you look like shit.') But a couple of days ago, he called to see how I was doing. 'Now, there's something I've got to tell you,' he said, ominously. 'The other day when I was round at yours I was, of course, aware that you were wearing a wig. Because you've told me about it, and because I've been reading about it. But when I was sitting talking to you in your front room, I wasn't thinking, "here I am having a brew with L in a wig," but, "here I am having a brew with L." After initially seeing it, the wig just didn't occur to me at any other point.' That was a very nice thing to hear from JB, and I told him so (plus it'll save him giving me another compliment for, ooh, the rest of my life).

The second remark came from a boy I worked with years ago, who'd only just heard about The Bullshit. 'That's awful,' he said. 'You've got such magnificent breasts.' Now I know there's not much going on in that area at the moment but, nonetheless, hearing that made my chest puff out a bit. 'And they'll be magnificent again,' I told him.

1 comment:

RJMJ:Jennifer said...

agree on the posh spice elfin cut!
keep on keeping on Lisa x