Crap, I think I may be pretty.
I’ve never thought of myself as an ugly person, but I was never gorgeous either. The only time I’ve stopped traffic was the week I had crossing guard duty in 4th grade. I’m pretty sure the cars would have halted at the stop sign anyway, even if I hadn’t run into the street in my orange fluorescent jacket waving my big red octagon on a stick. I certainly think fat people can be beautiful, but I was ever one of them. I was homely, probably because I stayed at home a lot. In high school I’d never heard of the diffuser attachment for the blow dryer, nor did I use any anti-frizz sprays, so there may have been swallows nesting in my bushy hair and I wouldn’t have known it. I had braces. I wore glasses since second grade, but I never wore make-up. I was not a pretty girl, but that was okay. I had many other fine qualities and I didn’t care that much about how I looked anyway.
But I was looking at some of the photos from my Chicago trip, and I have got to admit that my skin looks kind of radiant. My hair is swept back and mussed in a lovely way, like I’m standing in front of a wind fan on the set of a photo shoot. Even my teeth look good.
Whenever I see commercials for weight loss products I am usually cynical about the before and after photos. The “before” photo always looks like it was taken in a dark closet after the subject finished draping their bed linens as a toga. The “after” photo is on a beach in perfectly tailored clothes and the loser has a spiffy new haircut. Those people didn’t need to lose weight to look better, they just needed a makeover. When I started taking my progress photos I wanted to be as objective as possible, which is why I always take them from the same angle with the same expressionless look on my face with my hair pulled back. I don’t look that happy, but I do look consistent. No trick photography here. But when I look at photos of me now and me three years ago, I made a frightening realization. I too have undergone the fat girl makeover.
I have the spiffy new haircut. I ditched the glasses. My skin is not so much vampire pale as alabaster with a healthy rose tint. (Or maybe that’s the contrast setting on my monitor.) I “cleaned up.” After all those years of criticizing before-and-after photos for changing someone’s appearance in ways other than their weight, here I went and did it myself. I have lost all credibility in this matter. I don’t know what anyone else thinks, nor do I care all that much, but I think I’m pretty.
It’s hard to admit it, but I think I should have ditched my glasses years ago. They were so familiar for so long and I never liked the inconvenience of contact lenses, yet I like the way I look without my frames so much better. I guess I was never able to see that before. Literally. And my hair. Dear Lord, what the hell was up with my hair? I hope gardening implements were involved. No competent hair stylist should take credit for that cut. It’s better left to blame the gardener. I just look happier too, like I no longer resent the fact that there will be photographic evidence of this moment trapped in time. I usually smile without showing my teeth because when I smile on cue with my teeth you can see in my eyes that I don’t mean it, that I’m just smiling for the camera. If you see the thousands of dollars of dental work flash before you, it usually means I’m actually happy. And I’m not just happy because I’m thin, though that is rather awesome. I’m happy because I like my life. The girl with the weed-whacker wig probably couldn’t say the same thing.
I will try not to be too hard on myself for pretty-ing up. It has been almost three years. People change a lot in that amount of time whether they lose half their weight or not. It is not absurd to think I would have changed my hairstyle even if I hadn’t changed my jeans size. I probably would have gotten LASIK even if I was still as big as the laser machine. I doubt I’d be as glowing as I am now though. Defrizzer and facial moisturizer are great beauty products, but nothing sold at the makeup counter makes you glow like contentment.