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.
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.)