The Most Beautiful Girl In the world

It was 1994. Our family had been in the UK for all of 6 months and I was slowly settling into school life the British way. With each day that passed the loneliness presented on a platter by this country began to eat away at me. I had tried in vain to fit in at school. I wasn't bullied as I had been in Zimbabwe for my skinniness. No, here I just didn't quite fit in. When you first arrive at a new school, you are a little bit like a new toy. Everyone is fascinated with you and curiosity abounds. A lot of kids had never met anyone from "Africa". Questions like "Do you have electricity there?" were sarcastically replied with "No, the villagers held up fire torches as the aeroplane sped down the runway during take off." I was disheartened by the general ignorance where it concerned anything outside the UK, European holiday destinations, sex, and American tv.

Soon there was nothing much to talk about. And as for fashion - forget that. I was only allowed to wear skirts, so with 90s being the jeans era I was well and truly out of sync with the cool kids. There I would be on non uniform day in a black pencil skirt and embroidered blouse whilst every other kid rocked up in levis with no belts - cos that was just sad- and doc martens. The girls loo became my domain, my diary my best friend, and self loathing an active pastime. I began to refer to myself as the loch ness monster. Each day was ended with a swift round up of things that had taken place that confirmed my ugliness and lack of belonging: did a boy look my way today, no. Did anyone compliment me, no. Did I spend lunchtime in the loos again? Yes. Yep, I'm repulsive. Why God did you have to create me? 

The days my dad would take us to school, we would listen to the radio. On one such rare occasion, a song came on the radio that I couldn't but pay attention to. It had me at that little guitar and drum intro. Then he sang:

Could you be

The most beautiful girl in the world

It's plain to see

You're the reason that God made a girl

I was instantly taken. "It's plain to see you're the reason God made a girl." That's all that stuck in my mind for the rest of the day. Prince had told me I was the most beautiful girl in the world and that's all that mattered to me. 

In the spirit of taking baby steps, I decided I was the ugly duckling - a big jump from a monster -  but one day I would be a swan. And one day some man would sing this song for me and in his world I would be the most beautiful girl. In the meantime I decided to concentrate on being the most beautiful girl on the inside - and earned myself the nickname "Mother Theresa" for going around befriending all the outcasts. Every so often that diary did come out & a picture depicting my hideousness would be drawn. But at least it wasn't daily, nor in the solitude of the girls loos. 

Thank you Prince for using your gift. We never met, but for this one girl that cried on her house master's shoulder lamenting her existence as he awkwardly tried to reassure her that one day boys would be queuing up for a date (don't ask!), you made a huge difference. And when I tell my daughter the most important place to be beautiful is on the inside, I can say it with conviction, because I know it to be true. Thank you for the music. RIP.

The most beautiful girl in the world.


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