'If only I had some morphine on my bedside table'
The sentence that began an important conversation between Flora Smith, and her boyfriend at the time. We've all had people in our lives that were not supportive or did not truly love us for who we are. The important thing is to recognise that and know how to move past the negativity. Flora shares an empowering story of recognising one's beauty, both inside and out, on your own terms.
I’ve always been self conscious about my face shape. It’s very square, my forehead is big and my jaw is wide. My cheekbones don’t stick out quite how I’d like them to and my cheeks never really lost their baby fat. When I was younger I’d look in the mirror and wait for the day when I was ‘beautiful’.
It didn’t take me too long to realise that I would never be the version of beautiful that I saw around me in the media and on TV, but I slowly discovered that that didn’t stop me being beautiful in my own way instead. People said that I was pretty, my face was interesting, something you wanted to look at, and my confidence grew until the square-ness of my face became something I maybe didn’t love, but I certainly didn’t hate.
I would love to say the story stopped there, that I remained confident and self assured, but obviously that isn’t what happened. “If only I had some morphine on my bedside table”, the words that started a conversation I will never forget. My boyfriend at the time told me how he wished he could do plastic surgery on my face, and make it more ‘normal’, whilst he pushed in the sides of my jaw to try and create a perfect oval face.
And I laughed.
I laughed as all the confidence I’d gained through years of self-acceptance fell apart and what would be a month more of emotional abuse really began. He told me I couldn’t wear my hair up to school, without hair around it my face shape couldn’t be hidden. I was told that my body was so close to perfect, but not quite. I was told that I was so close to perfect, but something was getting in the way. So I never put my hair up, avoiding him as much as possible when I had to. I started going to the gym more, and I tried so hard to never make a fuss whatever he did or said because I didn’t want to show the “ugly” part of my personality.
I was lucky - I escaped. With the help of friends, one in particular who I can never repay for his kindness, I realised that he was wrong. I didn’t have to be perfect, I just had to be me. Maybe I wasn’t his perfect, but I am someone else’s and more importantly I am my own because I am myself.
I may not love my square face, but it’s my face. I’m never going to have another one so what’s the point in fighting it, especially when I know other people think differently to me. It took me a while but I realised that I didn’t want one person’s words to affect how I saw myself.
That’s why Label means so much to me. I could stay in the shadows and hide myself away, but I am not a victim and I will not let a bully make me change myself. I may not look like a girl from a magazine, but I look like me and I’m beautiful just as I am.
I saw that ex-boyfriend again a while ago. My hair was up. At first I panicked and went to let down my ponytail. And then I stopped. I laughed and I walked straight past him. He realised he’d lost his power over me, and he looked terrified.