All week long I was praised by my coworkers and friends for my new haircut. This weekend I went back to the salon and got a temporary dye to match my natural brown color and eliminate some of the lingering blond highlights.
I held up two dresses I bought during my lunch break to my coworkers and they awwed with approval. "You're changing," one winked. "A new you."
I'm not sure which part of me is new. One would think that I should have gone through this after my breakup with S, not four months after my breakup with Christopher.
My mom saw me on Saturday and told me I was the prettiest she's ever seen me. "You did things backwards," she said. "Most people go through the outer fix first because it's the easiest. Then they work on the inside."
But I also think my mom is giving me too much credit. You see, I'm cheap. When I was spending $200 a month in therapy, I couldn't afford a new haircut or new clothes. I also only buy clothes that enhance my appearance; I don't buy clothes just because they will do. And when I didn't like what I saw on the inside, I didn't like how I looked on the outside, no matter what I tried on. Hence my year-long hiatus from clothes shopping.
The truth is I was too frugal to fix the outside first.
When I slipped in my new dress for the garden party on Saturday, I did feel pretty. I felt so pretty that I asked Harvey and Katie to pose for a picture with me in front of a flowering bush. But when Harvey's husband handed me back my camera, I was crushed. Harvey is 5'2" and Katie is 5'3". I am 5'7" and was wearing three-inch heels that day, making me almost a foot taller than them. And when someone is bigger, everything matches in proportion: my head is also bigger than theirs, so are my ears and my arms and my shoulders. And standing next time them, I looked like a giant freak.
In the painting classes I've been taking, the instructor tells you to not compare your work with others. That as soon as your get your painting home and isolated from the other works, you'll like it. But what do you do when it's your body?
I got home that night and stared in the mirror. Nope, nothing looked wrong. Stood facing the side to check out the other angle. Nope, everything is where it should be. Took out my camera again to see if I just overreacted. Nope, still looks hideous.
And then I happened to log in my e-mail account and saw an e-mail from a guy on Plenty if Fish. The one line said that I was ugly. Well that didn't help things at all. The profile was obviously a fake one. The pictures were secondhand scanned images of some shirtless model. The description was pretty foul: demanding that his date be the kind of girl to dance on a table in the middle of a restaurant and then take her top off. He had no tolerance for innocence.
Logically, the e-mail shouldn't have bothered me, but it did. Why does there have to be people out there that are so malicious that they seek to intentionally hurt stranger's feelings? And why does it feel like I am always on the receiving end of it? I've never heard of anyone else getting an e-mail detailing how ugly she is, and everyone I've told seemed so shocked that they obviously have never heard of it happening before.
I know I'm a perfectionist. I don't handle it well when I make a mistake at work. I've never hung up any of my paintings from my painting classes; all of my friends have and they love their work, and to be honest, it does look pretty awesome hanging on the walls. And I don't look like how I should look like in my head. That's the hardest one: to envision one image so clearly and just be out of reach of it.
I'm doing better. I've bought four dresses this summer; obviously I'm seeing something I like about myself. It's just that Saturday was a misstep for me.