Elly Booth – What if we were blind?

ELLY BOOTH talks candidly about two shameful moments which lead her to discover the truth about beauty and the beast…

aesthetic attraction beauty cambridge unviersity columnist Ellie booth eye of beholder good looking human virtue judging book by cover saying senses Sex sight speaking superficial what if we were blind

What if we were all blind? What if you couldn’t judge people on their looks? If the only thing you had to go on was what they said, what they did, how they acted. Would you think different people were beautiful?

When I was seventeen, I was asked on ‘Formspring’ (retro I know): “Who is the prettiest girl in our year?” My answer was simple.

“Everyone is pretty in their own way.”

However much I have changed in the past four years, this is still I mantra I wish to uphold. No one can judge someone else on the way they look. If you want to say someone is ugly because they are short, they are fat, they are gangly, they have ginger hair, they have a beard – then you are ugly. All you are doing is showing your own insecurity. All you are doing is trying to make someone feel worse about themselves.

My answer came about the same time that I had a massive blow to my self-confidence. An agency had just told me that I needed to lose two dress sizes. I needed to become a US size 0 and it wasn’t going to happen. I stood in front of my mirror picking at the minimal fat that could exist in someone who danced 10 hours a week. I can tell you now from a 21 year old perspective, after three years of chocolate, pheasant and drunken Gardies, that this was a very minimal amount of fat indeed. For the first time in my life I hated myself because of how I looked. I was judging myself on what someone else had said about me. I was trying to conform to what they said I had to be. Then I realised: it just wasn’t me.

Luckily I had learnt a lesson a few years before. I had just dumped my boyfriend because he didn’t have a six-pack anymore. I have never had a moment where I have felt more ashamed of myself. A moment when I really wanted not to exist. It was just plain mean and shallow. I vowed to never judge someone on their looks again.

I didn’t want to be the woman who woke up next to a balding, fat man in 20 years and not know why I married him. I wanted to be the woman who woke up next to a balding, fat man in 20 years and smiled, because he was the man I fell in love with.

That lesson was my saviour when I was seventeen. I decided to not try and loose two dress sizes. I decided to accept myself and try to be the best person I could be on the inside. I decided not to be ugly by becoming self-obsessed and hating the way that the big G had made me.

However beautiful someone looks on the outside it fades. It fades if they are horrible. It fades if they are mean. It fades if they are cruel to the people around them.

This column was something I have wanted to write for the past six weeks but I decided to definitely do it after a comment two weeks ago. “Ugly”.

U. G. L. Y. You ain’t got no alibi. 

I had only been called ugly once before it my life. Probably because I was lucky enough to go to a school where however bitchy we were, people normally kept it behind your back. That or they had more creativity than just one word.

The time I was called ugly before was the time I had sneered at my Mum’s choice of outfit. It was another moment that I hated myself in. It has stuck in my mind as another thing I never wanted to do again. My mum is the most beautiful woman I have ever known. She cares more about me than I probably care about myself. Yet at that moment I made a choice to make her feel bad about herself, so when she called me “ugly” I deserved it. I was. I was uglier than the Wicked Witch of the West. I was truly rotten.

I am not saying that I have a foot to stand on for this column, that I have any moral platform, or anything. Nor have I done this topic justice. The reason that I have shared two of the worst things I have ever done publicly (not exactly the best idea of my life) is because I hope somebody might just take notice.

I hope that the person staring at themselves in the mirror and hating themselves will remember they are beautiful. They are beautiful on the outside and they are beautiful on the inside too.

The other person I hope might take something from this is the one who says mean things to these people. Stop. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. They might not look like you, or maybe they do and you’re being mean because you feel bad about yourself. The thing is the only thing you are causing is pain. You cause pain for them, but also to yourself. You are making yourself ugly.

Sugababes probably put this all better.  

Looks fade but the person you are inside is what matters and remains. Happy Monday and I promise next week will be back to the upbeat xx