Zooey Norman
August 20, 2015 12:00 pm

My mother always told me that “we want what we can’t have.” She has naturally curly and wild hair and I look at her hair with envy as I couldn’t even force a wave out of my naturally poker-straight hair. When I started primary school, I noticed quickly that none of my other classmates had my combination of alabaster flesh, raven black hair, and huge dark chocolate eyes. The other girls in my class who had my coloring sported beautiful blue, green, or grey eyes. My mum actually recently found an “open letter to the wish granters” I wrote as a child, and amongst wishing for my Hogwarts acceptance letter and “to need a bra,” blue eyes was near the top of the list.

By the time I was 10, I hated my brown eyes with a passion. Why couldn’t I have beautiful blue eyes that sparkled like sapphires in the light? When the film The Grudge hit North American theaters, my classmates likened my coloring to the demon in the movie, and let’s just say that didn’t help me learn to love my dark eyes anymore. In 7th grade, kids would tease me, saying horrible things about my brown eyes. As I grew up, I noticed that, in the books I read, the main girl always described her brown eyes as “boring” or “plain.” The dark hair and dark-eyed characters always seem to be the unassuming, boring, plain girls who didn’t think much of themselves. Would my dark eyes doom me to a lifetime of dorkiness and awkward insecurities too?

As the hate for my dark eyes grew, I started to get argumentative about them. I would insist that my eyes were hazel and get into huge fights with people who said they were brown. I willed them to really be hazel, and spent a hours sitting in front of the mirror, searching for any trace of green. When I was 15, I got my first pair of contacts. I got a blue set and a green set. I wore them all the time and I finally felt pretty and I was so happy. I felt beautiful and I thought that blue eyes were the epitome of beauty and that green eyes were very cool and mysterious. I hated being a common “plain jane.” I wanted to stand out and I thought a lighter eye color was the best way to do that.

I finally felt attractive with my contacts, but my self esteem became very dependent on artificial sources of beauty. There’s nothing wrong in general with using things like makeup, hair dye or contacts to express yourself and feel great about how you look, but for me, this became a big problem very quickly. I woke up and felt hideous. I hated how my face looked when my contacts weren’t in. I wanted to wake up beautiful, but my reflection made me sick.

I would look into the mirror and hate my natural face. I bleached my hair, thinking the lighter hair would help but I just felt so fake with blonde hair, extensions, and fake blue contacts. I am a shy, “bookish” kind of girl and, after all my alterations, I felt so fake and alien in my own body. I didn’t like all of the things I felt I needed to wear, but I hated how I looked without them. I felt uncomfortable when I went out in public; I was a sham. But I felt naked if I went out without my contacts or extensions. I was hiding behind them, and it was a problem.

When I moved out on my own, I couldn’t afford to keep up with my contacts and extensions. I wore the contacts less and less to make them last longer. I had to come face-to-face with, well, my own face — and it was a little terrifying. I went cold turkey for a few months: no hair extensions and no contacts. I was naked for the first time in a long time. I felt self conscious. I was convinced that everyone was staring at me.

One day, I went out and I realized that no one was even looking at me. No one cared. When I got home, I stared at myself in the mirror. My brown eyes weren’t as bad as I thought. To be honest, I realized I actually liked them. I spent the past few years hiding myself from the world in an attempt to feel beautiful, and all I did was make myself feel ugly. I don’t feel like a glamazon princess every day, and I will admit that I still do keep a box of grey contacts in my medicine cabinet and some extensions under the sink. But they aren’t a life line anymore. Like makeup, they are just a thing that I use sometimes when I want to look extra special. And anytime I’m feeling down about my lovely (yes, I said lovely) chocolate eyes, I look up celebrities (like Emma Watson, Zoe Saldana, Victoria Justice and Amandla Stenberg, just to name a few) that share my dark eyes to remind me that my eyes are beautiful.

So here’s to the brown-eyed girls because we are hella cute and here to stay.

(Images via Summit Entertainment, here, and here.)

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