For years, I've consoled myself with the thought that even if I wasn't a great beauty, I had least had an interesting look. I read a lot of classic literature, and a number of my favorite heroines were not classic beauties.
"Well, they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain," was Mrs. Rachel Lynde's emphatic comment. Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favor. "She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come here, child, I say."Anne of Green Gables
“Ill or well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony of beauty are quite wanting in those features.”Jane Eyre
"Why does she say I am a beautiful child?" she was thinking. "I am not beautiful at all. Colonel Grange's little girl, Isobel, is beautiful. She has dimples and rose-colored cheeks, and long hair the color of gold. I have short black hair and green eyes; besides which, I am a thin child and not fair in the least. I am one of the ugliest children I ever saw. She is beginning by telling a story." Sara Crewe, A Little Princess
These characters, however, had an odd charm, where they couldn't be dismissed so easily in the looks department. I'd often hoped that I could fit in to that category. Sure, Queen Mom told me that I was pretty. But, in all seriousness, what is one biased voice against a whole class calling you a "dog?" My parents discouraged me from putting effort into my appearance. Consequently, I knew nothing about how to dress to my advantage, how to wear makeup or deal with my hair (which was usually an overgrown, frizzy mop that I just tied back), or even how to pluck my eyebrows. Usually, I'd skulk around with either drab, baggy, dark outfits, or else some hand-me-down from Queen Mom that was several years out-of-date and way too matronly for fourteen. If I owned makeup at all, it was from the dollar store. (Few choices, so most of it didn't work.) Needless to say, I didn't attract a lot of male attention. Sure I had a boyfriend as a teenager--if you could call him that. We went through the motions of dating, but I wasn't really that interested. Not to mention that I was usually about a thousand miles away. I ended it when I started college.
After that, I didn't receive any romantic interest until the week before I graduated, two and a half years later. The guy looked like Quasimodo without the hump--and had a personality to match.
By the time I was twenty, the ugly duckling began to transform into a swan. I cut off the frizzy mop, and started going for the pixie cut. I began to wear bright colors and more fitted clothing that brought out my coloring. I also figured out the mystery behind makeup. By the time I was 22, I started putting my sewing talents to work making funky eyelet peasant blouses and halter sundresses, fitted tops in bright brocade, satin tunics, floral skirts, and little hats (OK, so most of those were crocheted.) I developed a love affair with vintage and floral. And, for the first time, I felt pretty. Even though I will never be a beauty, I at least can make myself into an odd charmer.