Sometimes I play this game where I see how ugly I can make myself look. Totally serious. I don’t think it’s really a conscious decision. There are just some days when I find myself playing it. I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and realize my face looks puffier and slightly more pale than usual. That sort of sets the tone for the rest of the day. I reach for an old pair of sweatpants instead of those cute new jeans, I put my frizzy hair up in a disastrous bun and I throw on a sports bra even though I know there’s only a 6-8% chance I will actually exercise. It’s like I make an agreement with myself in the morning mirror to never fully wake up that day. I hope you all have had this experience.
In the morning, you go to class where it’s acceptable to look like a hobo. Some people think you’re a student-athlete. This could be a bad thing depending on how you feel about college athletes never wearing anything but their fancy embroidered gym sweats, but I choose to look on the bright side. It’s nice to assume that people briefly consider me a strong person who is capable of aggression.
Later, you find yourself at a public coffee shop that adults frequent. And by adults I mean people not associated with your school. I mean real human beings. They are on their lunch breaks, running errands for their bosses, rushing to pick their sons up from a piano lesson. They look at you and you know they are embarrassed for America’s youth.
I worry about my ugly day appearance more than most people in my position probably do. Are sweatpants, T-shirts and unbrushed hair as inappropriate as they were in 1960? I don’t want to offend anyone. My Dad would say I’m wearing pajamas but then again he wears speedos at the pool, so who really knows?
I meet this fleeting self-consciousness with more attempts to make myself appear less attractive. I’m not asking for sympathy here, this is just a game. I release my forever sucked-in stomach somehow force the bags under my eyes to grow even larger and let my hunchback have its day in the sun.
In the coffee shop, that pretty girl who plays all the leads in the plays walks by. She looks amazing in her knee-high boots, patterned high socks, wool peacoat, black jeggings and perfectly styled hair. For a fleeting second you feel embarrassed. I mean, she’s rocking jeggings. You sit up straight, roll up your sleeves and act like you’re working hard on some really important Anthropology assignment. Pretty girl leaves with her hot green tea and you can relax again. You’re free to buy another biscotti. It’s okay; it’s your ugly day. We all have them. Go big or go home. (But don’t actually go home. I know you will be tempted.)