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For as long as I can remember, I was deformed. In my opinion that is what I was-a deformed child. Some people pretended like they didn’t notice, but it’s hard not to stare. Every time I looked in the mirror I would end up crying. If you looked closely you would find a crooked and twisted girl. In my mind words like hideous and ugly screamed, pulsing through my body making me twitch uncontrollably.
Everyday I woke up leery of another day of more staring and silent pointing. Over time I learned how to hide my deformity. I trained different parts of my body to move certain ways so people wouldn’t notice. I also learned to not draw attention to myself. If something funny happened I learned not to open my mouth and laugh because I had a hideous laugh. People would then turn and stare at me. If this circumstance did come up, I would painfully bend over and tie my shoe. But the damage would be done. People would see. Quickly they would disperse themselves among others to leave my horrid self alone. Emotionally wounded I would run home to my mirror. Staring at my ugly self, tears would stream down my face and on to my clothes wetting my twisted deformity. My mind would then wander to the thought of perfection which I absolutely wasn’t. What it would be like to be beautiful like everyone else. My mom would often come in and comfort me telling me I really was beautiful and that people didn’t really turn and stare because I wasn’t hideous at all. She would then remind me that it was the inside that should be beautiful not the outside. But she spoke to deaf ears.
One night while we ate dinner at the table, I begged my dad to pay for my operation so that I could be beautiful. Dad frowned and gently reminded me that it was a correction process not an operation. I snorted. Fine, it was a ‘correction process’ to correct my ugliness.
Tears streamed down my face as my parents got into an argument about it paying that much money was really worth it.
“Mom, look at me,” I nearly screamed, “I need this operation.” My voice quieted, “I need to be beautiful.” My mom shook her head. She told me it didn’t matter what I looked like. In her eyes I was gorgeous, but if I really wanted to endure the corrective pain they would pay willingly.
I couldn’t help but jump up and hug my dad. Then Dad whispered something in my ear I will never forget, “Anything for you, my beautiful princess.”
That night I sat in bed and laughed. My hideous laugh echoed through my quiet room. But I didn’t hide because no one could hear. Finally the staring would stop. I wouldn’t be a monster anymore. I shed one bitter tear as I remembered the fearful stares of the kids I babysat. More painful memories flooded in, but then I remembered soon I would be stunningly beautiful. With that though still lingering in my mind, I fell into a fitful sleep. I dreamed I was a monster and everyone screamed in terror as I came down the street eating cookies.
The week of my first appointment I decided to a get a little exercise for my weak legs by walking to the mailbox. As I slowly shuffled to the end of my driveway, I watched my neighbors as they lazily soaked up the sun. An old woman who sat on her porch quickly fled to her house as soon as she saw me. I winced. I couldn’t wait to be beautiful. Another woman was walking with a baby stroller. I was near the end of my driveway so I yelled a ‘good morning’ call. In horror I watched as the baby began to scream. The mother frowned at me and then quickly picked up her leisurely walk to a quick jog. Even innocent babies knew I was ugly. My gaze then shifted to my next door neighbor’s house.
And then I saw her.
She was drop dead gorgeous.
My breath caught in my throat as instant jealousy washed over me. That is exactly what I wanted to look like. I wanted to ask her how she was so beautiful. But I couldn’t. She would laugh at me. Although what would a little more hurt do to me. I had already endured the worst. All that she could do was state the obvious, and I already knew what that was. So taking my chances and my wits, I slowly moved toward her driveway. My body was so nervous it contorted into a weird slumped position. “Hello!” I stuttered. She turned her face toward me and smiled at me.
I almost turned and fled. She looked like an angel. Her blonde hair waved in the slight breeze. And her baby blue eyes were unbelievably stunning. They seemed to be never ending, and I had to catch myself before I fell into the deep blue.
I continued with my nervous speech. “I’m your neighbor. I’m surprised we’ve never met.” In truth, I had become to shy to meet people. Plus I didn’t really venture outside much. And the deepest truth was that I had hated her for being so gorgeous.
She laughed softly. It sounded like a million wind-chimes tinkering in the breeze.
Amazing. This girl had everything. She was beautiful and she had a beautiful laugh. “Nice to meet you,” she gushed, but it wasn’t sassy, it was genuine.
She patted the seat next to me but kept her striking blue eyes trained on me. Reluctantly, I sat down. “Isn’t this breeze wonderful? How it gently soothes your cheeks?” I assumed it was a rhetorical question, so I remained silent. She turned to me, “You don’t talk very much.” It wasn’t accusing, simply stating the obvious.
Mustering every ounce of courage in me I said, “You are so beautiful.” It came out barely above a whisper, the wind nearly carrying it away.
I had assumed her answer would be boastful, but, rather, she frowned. “I get that a lot.” That was expected, “but I think people often forget what true beauty is.” Had I miss heard her? “I can tell you are beautiful.
I snorted. “You don’t honestly mean that! I mean look, I’m beyond ugly,” I said with a pointed finger.
“No,” she shook her heard, “beauty is on the inside. It’s beautiful character oozing from your whole being making you look beautiful on the outside. God defines beauty. Through Him and with His help you are beautiful. People can’t resist true beauty no matter how ugly they look on the outside.”
I laughed. Clearly this girl didn’t see how deformed I was. “You think I’m beautiful? I have no friends. But you? You must have millions. How could they resist you beautiful hair. Your blue eyes...”
“That don’t work.”
“My eyes. They don’t work. I can’t see. I’m blind.”
Instantly I clamed my mouth shut. Yes, I complained about being ugly, but this beautiful girl had every reason to throw in the towel and complain, yet she didn’t.
“Shocked?” I didn’t have the words to respond. She continued, “Most people are shocked. They get scared and don’t want to handle my...handicap. But even though I don’t have many friends, I know I have to look to God for my beauty and work on my character to become truly beautiful even though I can’t see myself in the mirror each morning.
“So you can’t even see what I look like?”
“Nope,” she paused, “You know, I’m glad I’m blind. I don’t have to deal with the world’s definition of beauty that is flakey, shallow, and always changing. I can’t get caught up in trying to live up to the world’s standards because, obviously, I can’t see.
I couldn’t help but smile. I was beautiful, and this was the first time I honestly believed it.
My appointment loomed closer and closer until I sat in the awaiting room with my mom. She squeezed my hand and whispered, “I love you, beautiful,” as a lady called me into a room. My heart soared at the thought of those words being true.
After some consulting, signing of papers and light examining, they gave my operation a go. Nervously I laid back in the patient recliner, and they went to work. As they worked I allowed my mind to wander. Was I really a monster or had I created this idea in my mind? Did people really run, leave and stare because I was an ogre, or did I just happen to draw attention to myself during those times? I pondered each thought in my mind, turning it over and over, letting it soak in.
“All right, we’re all done with you! Would you like to take a look?” the man gestured toward a large mirror on the wall.
Slowly with great apprehension, I shuffled toward the dreaded mirror. The mirror I had learned to despise. Carefully I looked at myself in the mirror. I stared at the tiny braces that lined my teeth which were meant to straighten the crooked things I had deemed as ugly.
I was beautiful with or without braces.