The kids who bullied me at school were almost exclusively boys, and though I don’t recall ever being bullied outright by a girl, mean girls can be just as bad, if not worse.
Growing up, I often lay in bed sleepless on Sunday evenings, worrying about whether my friends would still be my friends come Monday morning.
For female friendship can be fickle. One day you’re someone’s best friend, only to discover the next day, you’ve been replaced.
My eldest daughter once came home from school bewildered by a friend’s behaviour.
“She’s nice one day, and mean the next. I don’t understand why ” she sighed.
“That’s because some girls are mean (like their mothers)” is what I DIDN’T say, but that’s precisely what I was thinking.
Instead I replied, rather unhelpfully, “Play with the nice girls instead.”
At school, one of my best friends was a girl who lived only a few houses down the road from me, and we’d known each other since first grade.
She was friendly most of the time, but she had a mean streak, like virtually every other girl, myself included.
I particularly remember an incident on the bus home, when out of nowhere she said, loudly, so that everyone could hear:
“My mum says you shouldn’t wear lipstick because of your disfigured lip.”
If anyone’s unsure where mean girls get their mean streak from, look no further than their mothers.
My friend’s comment stung me badly, and I wondered furiously what else her mother had said about me.
To this day I don’t particularly like to wear lipstick, not because of the shape of my mouth, but because I find it uncomfortable. I do, however, love to wear lots and lots of shiny lip gloss. I make no excuses for my lips.
Some years ago I was having a free makeover at a department store, and the sales rep insisted on using a lip liner on me, “to make your lip look more symmetrical.”
“Fuck that,” I thought, “I like my lips just the way they are,” and I’ve never let a lip liner near my mouth since.
In fact, I’ve never used makeup to conceal my cleft, and until that lady attacked me with the lip liner, it had never occurred to me that I would even want to do that.
That’s not entirely true, though, for once, as an experiment, I used heavy foundation to cover the scar that runs from my upper lip to my nostril.
Boy, did I look strange! I didn’t recognise the woman staring back at me in the mirror; I wasn’t me without my scar (of which I am rather fond).
So I’ll happily wear makeup now and then to add a little bit of glamour, but I won’t use it to hide who I am.