When I was a teenager, or perhaps even in my early twenties, I was invited to a friend’s house party on a Saturday night, as was quite the norm back then. This was before ‘house’ was used to describe a style of music played loudly by DJs in clubs and instead it usually meant your friend’s parents were away and you were being invited over to help empty the family booze cabinet. Music – unless you were lucky enough to be mates with a budding DJ with his/her own set of decks – would play from a home stereo, or we’d just listen to the radio at full volume.

I attended many of these parties in the first 5/6 years or so after I left school and they were all pretty much the same. We’d drink cheap white wine and dance to Duran Duran, Ace of Bass and Oasis. Sometimes, we’d get off with a boy we fancied in the corner, or sometimes the boy we fancied got off with someone else in the corner and we’d go home brokenhearted. Anyway, this particular night started out no differently. The usual crowd was in attendance, mostly people I had known since school, and we were all probably drinking Malibu & coke, Archers & lemonade, or anything else that we could get our hands on before starting on the Lambrini.

It was still quite early on in the evening. I remember this as we were all still leaning against a wall sipping our drinks and not spilling them over the carpet as we waved our arms in the air to Wonderwall. So there I was, quietly hanging out with a friend and wondering if and when the boys standing on the other side of the room would make their way over to us. We’d been friendly with them for a while and I’d drunkenly snogged one of them a few weeks before. I definitely fancied him, but I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way so I was playing it cool and waiting for him to speak to me first. I was also much shyer back in those days and would never have had the confidence to approach a group of boys on my own, no matter how well I knew them.

Anyway, the song finished and as this was a time before iPods and shuffle, the host had to physically walk over to the stereo to change the music, which was not easy in the dark so someone helpfully switched on the living room light. It was then that my eyes drifted casually over to the boys and the one that I liked locked eyes with me and in his loudest, cruellest voice said: “FUCK ME, YOU’RE UGLY!”

The room fell quiet. Nobody said a word. Everyone just looked at their feet and shuffled until someone had the good sense, or kindness of heart, to turn the music back on and switch off the light. I didn’t make a scene or burst into tears and run out of the room – I was stronger than that – but I have never forgotten that moment. I don’t think about it every day or obsess over it at all, but every now and again it pops into my mind.

Today was one of those days as I watched a clip of Pink’s emotional speech at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, which she dedicated to her young daughter. Pink’s beautiful 6-year old girl recently said she thought of herself as the ugliest girl she knew and “like a boy with long hair”. As heartbreaking as this must have been for Pink, she used the stage to send a very important message about self acceptance as she recalled “I went home and made a Powerpoint presentation for her daughter of androgynous rock stars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us.”

Where was Pink when I needed her in the early 90s?! I’d be lying if I said that I brushed off the ugly comment when it was directed at me all those years ago but, sadly, I believed it to be true for many years. It was much later – when I had grown into myself more and accepted all of my imperfections and flaws (I wrote a post about that here) – that I stopped comparing myself to other people. I know I am no Gigi, but overall I am happy with how I look and more importantly, with who I am.

Besides, I now realise that the comment said more about the little toe-rag than it ever did about me.

As Pink herself said “We don’t change, we take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty.”

That’s the kind of positive message I’d like to pass on to my own son.



  1. Helen Fields
    August 30, 2017 / 8:33 AM

    Beautiful, inspiring post. Taking ugly words and turning them into a message of hope and positivity is such a rare gift. Loved reading this Sarah.

    • Grenglish
      August 30, 2017 / 6:56 PM

      Thank you so much! I hope all is with you and your book is doing well!

  2. August 30, 2017 / 1:20 PM

    I can’t imagine anyone ever thinking you were ugly – my bet is he felt intimidated and too scared to come and ask you out. I had a ton of similar experiences in my teens. My bet is also that those boys who broke our hearts snogging the wrong girls in corners are now not all that special themselves. The last I heard, my own particular long term crush is now a divorced bus conductor – not that there’s anything wrong in that either, but well, you know, not such a stud.
    The problem is, I think this kind of behaviour has been doing the rounds since the beginning of time, and it still is evident now – I see it in my daughter’s peer group already. It’s an age of massive insecurities, and that does awful things to people’s behaviour. I just wish it were possible for individuals at that age to be strong, and know they are beautiful, to be as comfortable as we now are able to be. But I’m not sure it’s even possible without experience. What can be changed, and should be, is the nastiness of people. Pink’s daughter doesn’t believe she’s ugly because she’s always felt that way. Somewhere along the line she’s been told she’s not as lovely as someone else, and believed it. That’s what’s awful and needs to change. I don’t think – even through all my insecurities as a teenager – I ever said anything derogatory about another person’s appearance. That’s just nasty people. Not sure what you do about that. Welcome back by the way, I missed you x

    • Grenglish
      August 30, 2017 / 6:54 PM

      I agree. When you are young, these comments can so easily become your inner voice. I am really trying to teach Z to be strong too, but I think you do need a certain amount of experience, or hindsight maybe, to be able to brush a really nasty comment off.
      p.s. Missed you too! x

  3. Rickie Brandt
    August 31, 2017 / 2:34 AM

    I almost cried when I read this Sarah. So beautifully written and so something all young girls and women should read. Self confidence is hard to come by but we women have to stick together and teach our children to love themselves. Nasty people are unhappy people.

    So happy you are. back writing your blog. Thank you for being such an amazing friend to my beautiful Courtenay.

    • Grenglish
      August 31, 2017 / 8:24 AM

      It’s good to be back! Thank you so much for your lovely comment x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.