I have always considered myself to be “double-take” pretty. At first, you kind of glance over me, but after a second look, you start to notice some striking features. I’ve described myself as a “hard 7 with a soft 10 personality,” “an Old Navy body stuck in a Forever 21 world,” and countless euphemisms for average. My confidence was deeply rooted in my personality. I didn’t become funny because I was told I was pretty. I worked my way up the high school hierarchy the hard way: by being likable. When I got to college, I had to have actually conversations with people to make friends. I couldn’t just clique together like the hot girls did, and God forbid I hung out with anyone of lower aesthetics than me. After years of staying up at night, worrying about whether or not my personality was enough to bring me the fame and fortune I had always hoped for, my prayers were answered.
I woke up to a screenshot of America’s premiere Greek Life humor website, Total Frat Move, and my face was on it. My picture was chosen to be featured on TFM Girls. At first, I didn’t believe it. Why would my photo be featured for such a prestigious accolade? I scrambled to find the link for the article, and there it was. My pledge sister was a TFM Girl and I was in one of the photos, and I had never felt more beautiful.
See that J. Crew wearing lump of dirty blonde hair posing next to that flawless angel in a crop top? Yeah, that’s me.
I called my mom right away. After 13 minutes of trying to explain to her that this wasn’t a softcore version of Girls Gone Wild, she gave me an apprehensive congratulations and hung up the phone to call my brother to get more information about what TFM Girls actually are. Word was spread quickly as the link was posted in our sorority’s Facebook page, and almost immediately my big tagged me in a comment: “I spy my littleeeeeeee *heart eyes*!!” I had new followers pouring in to ogle over my Instagram. A dozen new people taking interest in my life. Even my first great love reached out to me. Let’s called him Jae, because that’s his name. I had always highly regarded Jae’s opinion, ever since we dated in high school. We talked on and off after we broke up, and it was always nice to hear from him. It had been a little bit, but when his name popped up on my phone, it was just like the old days. He sent me a screenshot of the picture with an enthusiastic message attached: “lol dis u?” Yes, dat me. Dat me everyone was looking at. Dat me everyone was talking about. It was the beginning of an era. A Hot Girl era. I didn’t have to be clever anymore. I didn’t have to be funny. I was only featured in one picture, but I still was reaping the same benefits as she was. It wasn’t even a particularly good picture of me, but the one solitary shot was enough to sky rocket my success. People saw my exterior potential for the first time. I was drunk with power. I was being recognized from the internet. I was living a dream.
I wasn’t used to not having to speak, let alone not speaking at all. I was pulled into pictures and thrown back, like a trophy fish. No longer was I Ali, I was “the girl on TFM.” Every time I took to social media, I felt the weight of the world’s expectations on my chest. No longer was I just sharing with friends, I was sharing with fans. People who I had to impress to keep around. I was used to this, but it was just jokes. Those came naturally to me. But looks had not. I didn’t have to look good as look as my personality made up for it, so I had been coasting on that for my whole life. Through braces, through acne, through growth spurts, through thick eyeliner and thicker side bangs, I knew I had my brain to fall back on. But people saw my exterior potential for the first time. I was crumbling under the pressure. I was being recognized from the internet. It became my worst nightmare.
Weeks went by, more TFM girls were posted, my picture was pushed to the bottom, and it all became a distant memory. My new followers had abandoned me, no longer impressed by a washed up internet icon. My 15 seconds of fame had run out, and I was back to being the chapter clown. I wasn’t a Total Frat Move Girl. I was a Totally Fameless, Mediocre Girl. And that’s all I wanted to be..
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