You laugh too loud.
Do you ever stop laughing?
You laugh too much.
When you smile all I can see are gums.
Your teeth are crooked.
Your lipgloss is uneven... oh wait that's your lips.
Stop pouting so much.
Stop pouting so much.
Nothing earth shattering. No real attacks on character or morals, but said often by enough people that I developed a complex about it; started covering my mouth when I laughed; not smiling as much; trying as hard as I could to be quieter lest someone mention my big, gummy, pouty, loudness. I doubt that my efforts would have been noticed because even after going to all that trouble I was still the loud gummy girl. It's just who I am.
Over the years I've managed to 'tone down' my smile a bit. To this day, I religiously go through photos and immediately delete the ones where the ratio of teeth to gum is out of whack - before digital cameras it was tearing up photos and putting them in the bin under the rubbish in the hope that tomatoes would ooze on them so even the garbage man couldn't see them if the bag just so happened to split open. So much effort just in case someone I didn't know saw the photo - I never said I was balanced.
The other day I was out with some new friends and when I laughed one of them said "Wow, that's such a loud laugh". He meant nothing by it, for him it was merely an observation and a statement of fact, a passing comment. But what I heard was "Wow, that's such a loud laugh. YOU ARE BEING INAPPROPRIATE. AGAIN. SHUT UP ALREADY!".
Straight away Pink's sober started playing in my head. For me it's one of those songs that speaks to my soul as if it was written for me. Also I was quite drunk on a wine tour at the time so that plays a big part too.
I felt dejected and I was instantly transported back to school. The same feelings came bubbling up as if it was yesterday.
I am always the loud one at parties. I have a social phobia but instead of being a wallflower I swing to the opposite extreme with the fake it til you make it premise because confidence, even fake confidence, is sexy, right? Right?! So I giggle and I shriek and, after a few drinks, quite often I snort too - that's how you know if I've relaxed enough to start having fun.
So I spoke up.
"I was always teased for my loud laugh at school."
The others were surprised. "But your laugh is so infectious, Glow!" (they actually called me Glow, we met through Twitter) "your whole face is involved in your laugh, you can see how much you're enjoying yourself".
I'd never heard anyone say that about me before. A positive comment on my laugh? The laugh that had just echoed, boomed even, through a high ceilinged room?
I was stunned. To be complimented on something that I've only ever gotten flack for was bizarre... but it felt good. Really good.
After carrying this around with me for about twenty years, this fear of smiling and laughing genuinely lest I be judged, one compliment isn't going to turn it around. But it's a start. I believe in starts. And I'm getting the last laugh.
Were you teased about something at school? Do you still have a complex about it?