I sit here full of self-hatred and hating myself for being full of self-hatred.

How can I be this superficial?

I was raised to understand that a woman’s worth lies in her attractiveness above all else.

I hate myself for aging. How stupid is that? As if I should be punished for just not having died for 42 years.

Is a woman more valid and relevant if she dies when she is young and pretty? Everyone loves Marilyn Monroe, because she stayed pretty forever. The ideal woman in life and in death. Her life was tragic, but we remember her for her curves and that time air blew up her skirt. Who she was is irrelevant.

It’s so ridiculous that we place value on things that are entirely out of our control. Like, a person is better or more worthy if they were born with certain features. The way my face is shaped, the length of my body, the size of my breasts, my skin. Ugh, my skin. I hate myself for my skin. I hate myself for having had acne, as if acne were a sign of weakness or it was my fault somehow. It wasn’t. It wasn’t because I didn’t wash my face enough or ate too much chocolate. It was genetic, and it was fucking awful. Now I hate my skin for reminding me of how ugly I was. I hate my mild scarring and deeply envy people with clear, smooth skin. That’s the ideal, and the lie we’ve all been told is that it’s your own fault if you can’t attain it.

I tried to take a video of myself playing a song on the ukulele and singing tonight. I kept fucking up the song, but I deleted even the takes when I didn’t fuck up because I think I’m too ugly to share it. Jesus Christ, is this really who I am?

Why is this so deeply ingrained in me? I know the answer. What I don’t understand is why is it so hard to overcome the shame of not meeting an unattainable standard of beauty. I guess I know the answer to that too. It is the topic for many other essays.

I have met the standard before. In fact, I have met many of the standards for my whole life. I don’t know what it’s like to be considered ugly for the color of my skin, for example, and I have almost never been the target of our society’s rampant anti-fatness. I know these things. I hold tremendous privilege where my body is concerned. But I had a brief period of my life when I was pretty. Hot, even. I got a lot of attention from people who were suddenly attracted to me. I felt confident in my body. I wasn’t terrified to show my face to the world. Was my life worth more then?

Not fucking dying is kind of a remarkable feat considering who I am, and I want so badly to look in the mirror and love myself. Love my signs of aging. Celebrate my survival. Love my body, however it changes. Sometimes I do. Sometimes it’s a challenge. I swear I will keep trying. I will take a video of me singing a fucking song and I will share it.

I will say that so far my 40s have been by far my most self-possessed and self-loving decade. I have come a long way with being comfortable in my own imperfect skin. But then I fall into this bullshit, and I get angry at myself for falling. Because now, not only am I ugly, I’m superficial enough to care.

I will not pass this bullshit on to my daughter. She will love herself because I will pretend to love myself. And the pretending will become truth.

I am gorgeous, goddamn it. And so are you.

Co-host of the podcast “I Never Saw That.” Humor writer and satirist. Find my work in McSweeney’s, The Belladonna, Little Old Lady, etc... Twitter: @jenfreymond

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