You’re ugly … on the inside

Liz Purcell is a Sacramento writer and poet

Last spring, I was attacked by a stranger while attending an area cultural festival.

A woman, accompanied by what I assume was probably her boyfriend, ran up to me and threw water in my face. A passerby who saw what happened laughed. No one offered to help me.

This was not a random act of violence, nor was the woman drunk. Rather, it was part of a pattern of attacking me based on my appearance. These attacks have included, but have not been limited to, people whistling, barking, and verbally harassing me about how “ugly” I am. Many of these “people” have been women.

The main criterion for ugliness these days seems to be having a big nose—or rather, being a woman with a big nose. (Perhaps men’s insecurities about the size of something lower on the anatomy exempts them from concern about their noses?) Nonetheless, people who are fat as houses or who have big, ugly boils on their faces (and are not particularly attractive otherwise) feel free to insult my looks. Who’s ugly here? Go figure.

Of course, getting older doesn’t help women, either. For instance, I once saw a man with an even bigger nose than mine—it curled under itself to form a hook shape—insult the looks of a group of elderly women in a supermarket.

It is bad enough when men commit such acts. When women do so, it is especially disgusting. They may think that by helping men abuse other women, they are gaining protection for themselves. In the short run perhaps they are, but in the long run they are usually abused by men on the basis of their looks, too. When that happens, they are the ones who cry the loudest, precisely because men haven’t kept their end of the “bargain.”

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he longed for the day when men would be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

I long for the day when women will be judged by the content of their character, not by whether or not they look “hot.” The only downside would be how many hot (and not-so-hot) people would be found short.