We stand with Ukraine 🇺🇦 STOP WAR
FeaturedStories

Ugly Girl (a personal story about growing up rejected by father)

Moscow

Russian Federation

This is the story of a girl who knew from the start that she wasn’t pretty. She had no physical defects, but she was born to a father who so believed in his own unattractiveness that he passed on his self-discontentment to his daughter. The girl looked like her father, like two peas in a pod. Losing the genetic lottery meant that there was no place in his heart for her persona; instead there was her nose, her hair, her legs, her back. They were all wrong and, in his eyes, no good. The girl was a failure. The girl is me.

I rarely dared to look openly and directly because of the feeling of my own inferiority. Jan. 2024

I am ugly. This is the first thing I learned about myself. I have a potato-shaped nose, a hunched back, elephant knees, and I have “scrawny feathers”. That knowledge came like this: Daddy ran his hand through my hair, checked its volume, and gave the verdict – “scrawny feathers”. He was so pleased with his joke that he would make fun of me so, every day for years to come.

My typical posture when I want to collapse and become invisible.

Between the ages of two and seven a child believes everything adults say, especially parents:

”Damn, what a schnoz.”
”Don’t slouch.”
”You’re shuffling your feet.”
”You can’t wear skirts with legs like that.”
”Straighten your shoulders.”
”It’s not beauty that makes you happy.”
”It’s no big deal if you don’t have a good face.” – I was growing, being weighted down by criticism, and believing it all.

I was sent to prep-school. We, the children, were there 24 hours a day and only came home at weekends. The girls had to keep their hair short. That way the nurses could avoid hair problems – combing it, untangling it and braiding it. “What a nice boy, what’s his name?” my mother was often asked, answering “His name is Tanya”! The haircut really made me look like a boy. As for me, it meant that not only my father, but the whole world could see how ugly I was.

The Gospel says that the tree is known by its fruit. If the tree is good, the fruit is good. If the tree is ill, the fruit is bad. If I am the fruit of a tree that thinks it is ugly, am I ugly?
I realised early that one has to be nice and friendly in order to be liked, so I kept my smile on as hard as I could.

At some point I realised that I was being replaced by a set of genetic data, and in order to be loved, even just liked, one has to be beautiful. Hiding my ugliness and trying to be liked at all costs, sometimes very high, is what I devoted the following years to.

By the age of ten, I rebelled by growing my hair so that no one would ever call me a boy again. I spent my childhood drawing princesses in puffy dresses, playing with dolls all day, curling their hair, making them up, sewing outfits and organising puppet fashion shows. My dolls were astonishingly beautiful. Above all, they were kind to me. Later I started sewing outfits for myself, having manicures and wearing dresses with five metres of fabric at the hem.

I had my hair cut short as a child, so people always thought I was a boy.

I’m the one who washes her hair every day, who can’t stand the sight of a peeling manicure, who finds it hard to appear in public without makeup. I’m a shopaholic who spends all my spare cash on clothes. Packing for a vacation is a serious task for me, because my luggage can’t hold all the clothes I can’t do without. Because there is still an ugly duckling living behind the facade.

My hair used to be called “scrawny feathers” because it was not thick enough. March 2024

The need to constantly monitor how I look and whether I like the way I look robs me of a subtle connection with my body, as if I were made out of disparate pieces. When I hear compliments about myself, I have the feeling that people are deceived by me and just don’t see my real ugliness behind all the tricks. I’ve spent so long trying to be something I’m not that I don’t really understand who I really am, what I’m like or what I really want.

The only thing I know for sure is that I am more than my appearance, whatever that may be. This series is an attempt to look at myself through the burden of childhood experience, without embellishment, without trying to please Daddy at last.

Attacking how I look has taken away my right to be proud of beeing a part of my family-tree. March 2024
I’m a shopaholic who spends all my spare cash on clothes. Packing for a vacation is a serious task for me, because my luggage can’t hold all the clothes I can’t do without. January 2024
I was growing, being weighted down by Dad’s criticism, and believing it all. February 2024
I was growing, being weighted down by Dad’s criticism, and believing it all. February 2024
Support PRIVATE Photo Review Support us today →

Tatiana Sikorskaya

Tatiana Sikorskaya (1981, Moscow) is a visual artist working with photography. She works both with documentary and art photography. She explores social issues and… More »

Leave your opinion:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Check Also
Close
Back to top button
×
Close

Adblock Detected

We use advertisements to keep our website online.

Please whitelist our website
in your adblocking plugin