In Praise of Ugly Ducklings, Black Sheep, And Scarred Ladies!

In less than a month I will be bidding farewell to my 50’s and entering a new decade—60 years old, 60 years young, whatever you chose to say, I will be 60. When I look in the mirror, I see an older version of myself.

My once smooth skin is now spotty from the sun damage of baby-oil and iodine; lest I forget to add the double-album record cover opened up with a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up to get more of those ultra violet rays!

Baby Oil, Iodine, A double-record album cover–or two covers taped together, covered with aluminum foil was the best old-school, DIY sun reflector. If I only knew now what I didn’t know then!!


We all sat out in the sun and baked–just like this!

There’s a couple of scars too, to keep me in check and give me reminders: The scar over my right brow from my Mohs surgery for Squamous Cell tells me to keep using that sunscreen, wear a hat in the sun and always sit under an umbrella at the beach. Fake tan is a BFF!

Mohs Scars

See those scars that look like slices–they keep me in check these days. The only baking I do these days is dessert baking!

A scar underneath my bottom lip reminds me of my bathtub accident—the one where I fell and bit through my lip, causing it to be sewn back together. THAT scar reminds me to stop, take a step back and to not be in such a hurry or take shortcuts. In case you are wondering—I was in our master bath—this is back in 1995, and I noticed that one of the shades was not pulled down to the exact spot I had marked (Yes. I was OCD about where the window shades needed to be pulled down. I wanted them all evenly set so I marked, with a pencil, on the side of the window where the shades needed to be pulled). Picture, if you will, three windows overlooking the tub. Rather than step into the tub to adjust the shade, I had a brainstorm. It would be quicker if I “jumped” over the tub. Well, I had socks on. The dry tub was slippery. I lost my footing. I fell. My head bounced from one side of the tub to another, and my forehead hit the faucet. The force from the fall caused me to “bite” through my bottom lip. Only I didn’t realize this because I was in a state of shock. My ex-husband came running upstairs and his reaction was “Holy shit—it’s The Shining”—there was that much blood.

When the ambulance crew came to bring me to Princeton Medical Center, all I could do was beg them “Hey, please don’t get blood on my carpeting. I just shampooed them”. Waaaa. Wahhhh!!!!!

The good doctor at Princeton Medical Center upon seeing my blood strewn face said “Somebody up there likes you. You should have broken your neck. You are lucky”!

With 30 stitches to the scalp and my bottom lip sewn together, I learned a valuable lesson. Nothing is worth killing yourself over. Take your time! That mouth scar is barely visible these days—the doctor who sewed me up was a military field surgeon and he did a great job. However, when the weather gets cold or damp, that “scarred” area gets taut, and serves as an omen! Surprisingly, hair grew back to cover the scarring from the stitches on my scalp. Horray!

My eyes will also remind me when to take a break—the get really, really crossed—and I can feel the strain.

All these imperfections are ME. Some of them, like my eyes, have been a part of who I am since I was born. The others—well, even though I may have acquired them later on in my lifetime, they are still a part of who I am and I wouldn’t change a thing. Seriously. I would never get rid of my scars. Scars are great reminders!!!!

As a child, I guess I was pretty goofy looking, but I never gave my looks much of a thought until I hit the awful age of pre-teen. Where so many girls were growing long and luxurious locks, my mane had turned from wavy to absolutely thick, frizzy unmanageable mop. So much so that my mother had my air cut into a “pixie”. Add to that, my brows, which at one point were twins, now melded together to form a uni-brow. No. It doesn’t end there. I grew fine hair above my upper lip. In certain light you could really notice my “mustache”. It was awful. I could be over-reacting, but in my mind, I was the ugliest duckling and black sheep of all time.  When you’re a kid–you think these things!

Yes. Iwas the girl wiwth the moustache and unibrow

In my mind–THIS is what I looked like as a pre-teen and a teenager. My last name should have been Leigh–and my first name “Ugh”..get it?  Miss Ugh Leigh!

cloris leachman

But hey, one of my favorite actresses, Cloris Leachman was a mustachioed lady in “High Anxiety”. You rock that ‘stache Cloris!

And why do the antagonists of children’s stories HAVE to be labeled as “ugly”????

ugly stepsisters

Yeah…why is it that if you are ugly on the inside–movies automatically make characters ugly on the outside???  Personally, I like their long eyelashes–even if they only have three lashes on each eye–plus, their hair isn’t frizzy!

Two incidents scarred me. Not physically, but my self-esteem was shattered. One day, I was walking home from school—I lived within that perimeter of St. Patrick’s where I could either walk or take the bus. One of the busses passed by and Tim Schmidt, a classmate yelled out the window “Hey. Wynne. You are the UGLIEST girl I’ve ever seen”. Rather than be a good Catholic girl, I just held back my tears, gathered up all my strength and yelled back “You suck!” (My wit hadn’t been developed yet).

Another incident. 8th Grade. Religion class. Bill Weigand turned around to ask me for a pen or something. Instead he looked and said really loudly so the rest of the class could hear “You have a mustache. You are a mustachioed girl”. As I write this, I can still feel the humiliation and embarrassment of his words.

Isn’t it amazing how mere words can dig deeper wounds than any physical ones? Having to deal with brothers and sisters who were very good looking didn’t make me feel any better. Honest to god, my mother didn’t know what to do because she never had any of those issues—like a hairy face. She never even got sunburnt. She had that perfect blend of skin that only tanned. Arrrrghhhh!

I was The Black Sheep of the family.

black sheep

The motto of Black Sheeps everywhere!!!!

I was the ugly duckling. If only I had my 8th grade graduation photograph you would be able to see the similarities between “Pat” and me! I was “Pat’s” thinner sibling!


We could be sibs!

But hey, it’s all cool. Looking back, I wouldn’t have been able to make fun of myself had I been flawless! There would be nothing to work with for cryin’ out loud! Like Alfalfa’s cowlick being his personality, my imperfections are a huge part of my personality!

I could have been his mom–there IS a resemblance!

…and so I go on to transform myself into a swan-perhaps an old and ancient swan, but nevertheless more swanny than not.

its all good ugly ducklings

Well, not a complete swan, but closing in on 60 years, not an ugly duckling anymore!

Here’s to the special group—the ugly ducklings and black sheep. We may not be conventional beauties, but we sure as hell have great character and a great sense of humor with the ability to laugh at ourselves!

Remember this great movie about Hans Christian Anderson? Here’s Danny Kaye singing about “The Ugly Duckling”!  To all the people out there who have ever felt like an ugly duckling or black sheep. This song’s for you!  XOXOXOXOXO!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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10 Responses to In Praise of Ugly Ducklings, Black Sheep, And Scarred Ladies!

  1. Ann E. says:

    I just adore your stories! I too was the ugly duckling that was made fun of as a child so this one hits home. Thank you for sharing and always bringing a smile to my day!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Ann–Oops. My reply didn’t go through! I’m extremely happy that you like my stories. It also makes me glad to see that other readers can relate to my writings. Nobody wants to be made fun of–and I think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time!

  2. Maureen Aupperlee says:

    You are beautiful! Happy Sexy Sixty Soon!!!!

  3. annmarie Compbell says:

    Catherine, besides enjoying your humor and how you can poke fun of yourself (lots of people can’t do this BTW!!), I’m really so impressed and in awe of how honest you are in your writing…that’s what adds to it’s appeal to me as well! I say you are not at all an ugly-duckling, but a very bright, talented, incredibly funny, and gorgeous young woman of only 60 – sexy sixty that is!!!

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Annmarie! Your kind words will give me such a huge head that I’ll burst!! LOL. Seriously, I do believe that honesty is the best policy. If we are open to others, we are all more relatable–right? Plus–if you cannot make fun of yourself, then where’s the sense of humor buried? XOXOXOXO!

  4. nathalie says:

    i agree !!!!!!!!!

  5. Martha says:

    I just love reading your blog. You are a very special person, so comfortable and funny. It is refreshing!

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