Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't Stare At Me


Girls, you know when you meet someone – it’s usually a guy but occasionally a woman will do this – and they say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ and ‘are you enjoying yourself’, only you realise they aren’t talking to you, they’re actually talking to your breasts? Isn’t that, like, the worst? I mean, no one wants people to be talking to their breasts instead of them, do they? Not even the most desperate of all attention seeker girls with fake boobs want that do they?

And if you have a newly sprung spot glistening on your forehead you certainly don’t want people saying ‘hey! How you doin’?’ to your spot do you?

If you have a nose you’re not happy with, say it’s too big, you’ll realise people talk to it instead of you.

Or if it’s spinach (or in my case, chocolate cake) you suspect that’s caught in your teeth then no doubt people will begin to address the spinach instead of you.

For me it’s my nose.

I liked my nose when I was growing up. It never bothered me; not too big, not too small. Some people told me it was cute. I liked that. A button nose they said. But I never thought about it. I had more important things to worry about, like a spotty chin, two-tone teeth and chubby hamster cheeks. Now, with that annoying thing that people call ‘hindsight’, I realise my nose was great. So were my cheeks, my teeth and my chin – spots or no spots.

Back then I was simply me. The same me as I had been when I was born. Normal. Average. Simple. Fine.

Not disfigured.

***

Things are different now though.

It’s taken over a year to admit it. The first time I realised that that was what I was – disfigured by my scars – was when I was sat in front of the TV, missing yet another morning of classes, watching This Morning.

A lovely, bubbly girl was a guest on the show. As Philip and Fern introduced her, I listened to her story and realised she had been burned when she was a child and was on the show to talk about the way she is treated when she goes out in public. I watched intently, tears filling my eyes as she spoke about how people stare at her in the street, and ask her what happened to her face, and how the girls in clothes shops argued with one another over who would serve her.

I realised how much I understood what this woman was saying. She was me. I was her.

‘Oh my God. I’m disfigured...’ I sat forward in shock before I broke down in hysterical, woeful tears that lasted for the next three days. (Some people say they cried for a week when they split up with their boyfriend, but they mean on/off crying. I literally cried non-stop for three days.)

***

“Hello, do you have a store card?”

“No,” I smiled apologetically.

“Oh God, what happened to your NOSE?!” The Tesco check-out lady screeched in shock. What could I say? “I have sarcoidosis”? No, of course not, because no one knew what it was. “I’ve a disease”? No, she’d ask for more information and there was no way could find a single sentence to sum up the whole complicated thing.

I shrugged good naturedly, “Ah, it’s a long story.” I smiled at her, my face colouring quickly.

“Did someone attack you?” She pressed.

I was a little shocked. Of all the questions I’d been asked about my disfigured nose, no one had ever assumed I’d been attacked.

“No,” I said, holding back the tears and forcing a polite smile.

As soon as I had paid her the money for my measly amount of groceries, she said goodbye to my nose and I walked out the door and I wept. I stood sobbing outside Tesco, my shoulders shaking, people passing by me in a rush, not even paying the slightest attention to me.

She was just a woman I’d met once in my lifetime. Just a check-out lady who worked at Tesco, who happened to query my strange appearance. Little did she know that she tore my heart into pieces, and I will never, ever forget her for the rest of my life.

***

I'm becoming sick of ignorant people. And when I'm not sick I'm tired. I'm sick and tired.

What happened to me could happen to anyone. One day you're normal and the next day you have a disease that creates lesions on your body.

How I wish people would talk to seemingly huge spots on my forehead or the spinach caught in my teeth instead of my nose...(no, not the spinach caught in my nose. Just my nose. Without the spinach.)

16 comments:

sugar007 said...

Sweetheart, One thing you can always bank on is that people will always be people!! They would ask inappropriate questions, say inappropriate things, look at others in an inappropriate way. That is just how human beings are. We are seriously flawed creatures and nohing is ever going to change that. The only thing that can change is how we react to things. Sometimes we can be strong and take it on the chin and sometimes things just tip us over the edge.There is nothing I think I can say that will bring you comfort (I wish there was) but be reassured that the people that truly matter don't give a shit about your nose or any other thing that you think makes you stand out. The others simply don't matter!!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Sugar those words are very wise! You're totally right, some people will always stare, it's just the way they are. It's just a shame because it makes some people's lives very, very difficult.

I've been seeing a therapist to try to learn how to change my attitude about being scarred to visually, and she tells me the same as you. All we can do is change the way we react to it. And I quite like the fact that one day I might be strong enough to not bat an eyelid at the questions. It's what I'm working towards.

Thanks for the encouraging words...you should be a therapist!

T.D. Newton said...

Ah, I see.

I do my best NOT to talk to breasts or parts or anything other than the person's eyes but, more often than not, I can't even look at a person when I talk to them. Not for very long anyway, unless I know them really well.

I don't think you're alone in dealing with stuff like this but, regardless, don't get too discouraged. People will value you (people DO value you!) based on what you say and do. But since our eyes are sort of the "main" sense (or the initial sense most of the time) it's impossible for the human race to be anything less than superficial.

Jez said...

Looking on the bright side, you're not a checkout girl at Tesco's...

Maybe you don't look like most people look - like you've just come off a conveyor belt; an identikit person just like the rest. Isn't that a good thing?

I used to get that kind of reception from a lot of people. It's nothing to do with disfigurement. If your photos on Facebook are anything to go by, it sure as hell isn't that. No - it's just that there is a certain kind of person - like your charming checkout neanderthal lady (who was probably glad to sit down, so she could take the weight off her knuckles) - who cannot see beyond their own extremely limited horizons. Anyone who is different, be it in the way they are dressed, some trivial aspect of their appearance or whatever, is the subject of goggle-eyed amazement to them.

Bollocks to 'em. Rise above it. It took me a dog's age to realise that the problem lay with other people's narrow perceptions rather than with me (although I'll readily admit, I'm no oil painting). The people that matter don't think such things about you or anybody else. Adverse opinions from ignorant people should inspire not upset in you, but rather distaste and perhaps pity towards them.

Oh, and the talking to the breasts thing - I can only apologise on behalf of my gender. It's just that we can't help it (lame excuse, but it's the only one we've got).

The Horns and the Hawk said...

try completely ignoring them.

for some reason, when you're overweight or fat, people seem to think that's the perfect "in" to be able to joke with you, like, "hey! you're fat! you've gotta have, like, no self esteem, so we can make fun of you, right?" or they assume that you're somehow just entirely ignorant of the extra weight you're carrying around.

weak.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Yes yes, thank goodness I'm not a Tesco check out girl! :-)

Ahhh deep down I know it's all about the way I deal with it and that those people who do stare and make fun are worth nothing to me etc.

But wouldn't it be nice if people were a little bit more tactful?

Anyway, it's one of those 'world peace' wishes. Can't change the world...unfortunatley!

miss despina said...

Princesse, you do not have a strange appearance, you are so pretty! I know that's not the issue but, you are. (Jez is not a tit-talker by the way, he's very discreet.)
I had the stares too for terrible acne, which eventually disappeared, my confidence came back, and the little scars remind me that I no longer give a shit.

You deal with it brilliantly. You're intelligent and your boyfriend adores you!
Just tell me which tescos it was and let me go there and bludgeon some sense into her - actually no, some people will always be ignorant.

Bisous, Princesse xxx

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Oh Despina, I LOVE you. Don't worry, not in any lesbian way, but I do adore you. In fact, when I was writing this post and I was thinking about the people who might read and laugh at me or judge me I thought of you and I knew, out of all the people who would reply, I knew you are the type of person who would say something beautiful. Because I know, just from the little I know of you and your opinions, that you are so NOT one of those people who stare, or who ask questions, or even talk about people behind their backs. You don't judge and your inner beauty really shines through, simply through what you write. (don't laugh at my cliches!) Jez is a very lucky guy (not that he doesn't deserve you, because I think he's great too)!

Now, it was Tesco in Edinburgh, on Lothian Road. A woman in her late 30's, Indian accent, Asian appearance, shoulder length hair, ugly blue uniform. Thankyou :-P

Getty72 said...

Hiya Princess ecossaise, I read your post and found it very emotional.

I was born with a facial disfigurement that has taken countless operations to rectify (unfortunately, the first two went wrong and I had to have many more to rectify them too). As you can imagine, when I was younger many of the children at school didn't understand and made my life a misery. However, there were an equal number that (although they didn't understand) didn't care what I looked like and became close friends. Even now I tend to shy away from going to nightclubs and places like that because I am so conscious of how I look. All of my friends and colleagues tell me it doesn't notice (however, inside I feel like John Hurt in "The Elephant Man"), and it only takes one look from someone in a pub or a supermarket to ruin my day/week/month....

I have visited your blog several times and truly think that you are a wonderful person (and I think your ID photo looks really cute too).

I wish you and your boyfriend a very happy life.

Take care ~ Graham

Despina said...

Who would judge or laugh at you, Princesse?
That's such a lovely thing you wrote, and it all applies to you too, which is why you thought to write it in the first place :)You're not clichéd at al,just very very lovely. Jez is such a darling isn't he?

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Graham, thankyou for your kind comment. I'm so sorry to hear that you were born with a facial disfigurment, I can definitley understand how difficult life can be because of this. I was lucky I suppose in the fact that when the lesion formed on my nose I wasn't at school any longer. Kids can be so very cruel. But on the other hand, it does do a little to show you who are beautiful people on the inside, it's those around you who don't care about your face.

Sometimes, when my make up isn't working very well and the raised redness is quite clear on my face, I feel guilty for anyone I'm with. I'm ashamed by myself, afraid I'm making friends and family ashamed of me. For example, if FP and I are out and someone looks at me strangely because of my nose, I feel so sorry for FP, because I wonder how he can't be totally embarrased by being seen with me.

The I realise he doesn't care. And neither do my other close friends. And that has made my life a lot happier actually.

Often I too feel like the elephant man. It's an awful feeling, to feel like a monster. I have considered running away to a Freak Show, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't accept me. I can't do any tricks...(athough I could probably grow facial hair and become the bearded lady as well as disfigured if I wanted to. But I don't want to.)

I'm not sure about you, but for me, at times, every day life is a struggle. Stepping outside the door is difficult. In a world where looks seem to be everything, sometimes I feel like I don't belong. I'm just an imposter.

I really hope things go well for you, keep in touch and thanks again for your comment.

Despina, Jez IS a darling! When's the wedding?! :-P I'd like an invite. Maybe you could marry in Prague...how romaaaaantic!!

(obsessed with marriage? moi?)

John C said...

I...I like...your nose.

If you're still unhappy with it, you can always cut it off and send it to me. I'd keep it safe in a little box, take it out to water it.

I'd even take it for an evening stroll down by the riverbank. Not that I see many people walking noses of others there.

But I'd do it for you.

Ghosty said...

Remember what I said to you some time back? You have a wonderful little nose. It's quite adorable, and there's not a thing wrong with it.

However, if you continue to be self-concious about it, I'll talk to your boobs. Hello, boobs, how are you both? ...

Princesse Ecossaise said...

John, dear, Nose is in the post. I've told Nose to send me a postcard when she arrives.

Ghosty why thankyou for the compliment of my hooter, I shan't be self-concious about it any longer, because well, my boobs don't talk to strangers!

sylvie d said...

Princesses: I have no clue on what you are going on about...you are gorgeous...it is quite obvious...and for what I can see you are also beautiful from the inside out...le petit francais a tout compris!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

awwww Sylvie t'es si gentille avec moi, c'est tres sympa, merci mon amie, merci :-) gros bisous!