I always wanted to be different to who I was, to dress wildly, ‘out there’ attracting attention. But unfortunately when you’re born into the family I was then that’s not possible.
My family are rich – well that is an under-statement to be honest – they are super rich. When your father owns a bank which before him his father owned and passed down, then money is no object.
I lived in a luxurious house with my mother and father and one sibling. We had daily help, a gardened, pool attendant and numerous other ‘helpers’. It was insane really. My mother didn’t work – well she actually did charity work to be fair and that along with lunches, fundraisers, tennis and general socialising, took up all of her time.
I of course attended a private school, had tennis coaching (at our own tennis courts beside the house) and lived a life many would envy. But I wasn’t happy.
My mother and father were extremely old fashioned in most ways and so they thought I should be, or to put it another way, they tried to make me! Maybe it didn’t matter how I dressed really because I had my Grandmother’s on my father’s side of the family’s, looks and they weren’t that good! A very high forehead, a rather large nose, freckles and of course the age old problem of having the propensity to put on weight very easily.
Most of the girls at my school were also ‘privileged’ but were allowed to wear things I wasn’t allowed to even dream of wearing and go to places that were taboo to me. At sixteen years of age when they were going to the movies, dances, just hanging out in town, I wasn’t.
“Why can’t I go out with some of the girls from my class?” I would ask my parents but all I got back was “Victoria, those girls SHOULD NOT be going out on their own at their age. Where are their parents for goodness sake?”
My mother was always well dressed, impeccable in fact but never fashionable. She didn’t care that her clothes weren’t in vogue “So why should anyone else?” she asked.
“How much shorter are skirts and dresses going to get?” was one of the rhetorical questions she would always ask when coming back from an event she had hosted. “I mean it’s disgraceful!”
“I think it looks great if you have the right legs for it”. I told her.
“Well you certainly won’t be wearing any of that type of thing while you’re in this house” chimed in my father.
He was nearly as bad in what he wore. Suits, suits and more suits. It wasn’t as if he ever had a bright tie on or coloured shirts, God forbid that would happen! He was a handsome man too, but was wasting his looks by what he wore.
My brother Johnathon was content to go along with anything our parents said. I suppose it was just his personality. Being really smart he just did his study and then got into his ‘hobby room’ to make all sorts of bits of machines with his engineering skills. He didn’t seem to be too interested in girls – well I think he was interested in them - maybe he realised that whoever he brought home would probably not be the ‘right kind’. He was sometimes a bit mean to me, saying that it didn’t matter so much that he wasn’t good looking because he had brains but how difficult for me with neither good looks or ‘smarts’.
I asked Johnathon once if he was happy and his answer was “I’m privileged, I’m extremely lucky with the family I was born into so I guess I’m happy”. I didn’t think that was much of an answer.
I knew my parents thought they were choosing a boyfriend for me too. A couple of times they told me about ‘so and so’ and their son who was studying law or medicine or some other degree and was a ‘lovely’ boy from ‘good stock’. Then they would cut to the chase and say “We thought you two might ‘hit it off’ so we’ve invited the family over for brunch and a spot of tennis”.
There was no point in trying to argue with them. They wouldn’t listen and to make matters worse I was always placed next to the ‘nice boy’ at the table. I didn’t care because I never spoke to them. If they asked me a question I would give a one word answer and then look away. I did feel a bit sorry for them because it was obviously what their parents wanted to – I mean who wouldn’t want their son taking out a multi-millionaires daughter?
Well it didn’t work because none of the ‘suitors’ came back again or tried to get in touch with me.
One day after one such occasion I asked my mother why she did it. “Did what?” she asked in an innocent manner.
“You know, try and set me up with someone”.
“I’m simply introducing you to some of the boys from nice families. I don’t want you taken advantage of because of who your family is or where you live, that’s all.
Everything changed when Lyndon came to our house.
My mother had told me that Mr and Mrs Charles had a very nice son and I of course said straight away “No not interested” and nothing more was said.
On a Saturday morning not long after this, my mother told me that the Charles’s were coming to dinner that night and bringing along their son Lyndon. “Mum I’ve told you that I’m not interested in any of the boys you bring to this house – you’re wasting your time!”
“Victoria you are nineteen years of age now and old enough to make your own mind up about who you want to go out with” she told me slightly exasperated “ but as they will be here shortly I thought you could see what you think of Lyndon. I promise this will be the last time I try to match you up with someone”.
Well I wasn’t going anywhere, I never did and I knew it was going to be a good dinner so I told her this was the last time I would be humiliated!
I dressed to the best of my ability who compared to my peers wasn’t that appealing. Looking in the mirror as I brushed my hair I thought how unfair it was that I looked so plain, then looking around my bathroom that was probably the size of someone people’s living areas, I told myself that ‘you can’t have everything in life, it’s all a compromise’.
Claire, our daily helper opened the front door to them and as they walked into the long hall I could hear a youngish voice, deep and smooth saying to someone that this was one ‘hell of a house’ and he hoped the food was as good as he was famished!
I came down stairs when I felt I had to and walked into the sitting room. “Victoria I would like to introduce you to Mr and Mrs Charles and Lyndon”.
I didn’t even glance at the parents because all I could see was the handsome face of the son. He had the deepest bluest eyes I had ever seen and the long eyelashes curled upwards almost reaching his eyebrows. He had a perfect shaped aquiline nose and clear, tanned skin. His hair was dark and curly and had a bit of length to it. I thought he was well over six foot tall, and slim.
I wondered what my parents thought of this ruggedly handsome man (definitely not a boy). His clothing was casual and relaxed unlike my father in his suit, formal and stuffy and my mother in her two piece along with shoes to match and floral earrings.
I held out my pudgy hand, bitten nails on the end of the fingers and didn’t seem able to take my eyes off his face.
As we went to sit at the table I quickly sat down next to Lyndon “I’ll sit her” I told my mother. “Yes that is where I put you Victoria” she replied.
As the evening progressed I thought how lucky I was at meeting Lyndon and prayed that he would like me and ask me out on a date. He had asked me a couple of questions and then hardly spoke after that. As soon as dinner was over and my father said that we could retire to the sitting room Lyndon announced that he had to leave a little early as he had another engagement to attend.
I was heartbroken. ‘He doesn’t like me’ I thought to myself ‘and I don’t blame him’.
“I’m going to my room to read” I told everyone and went upstairs.
The next day I said to my mother that I thought Lyndon was really nice but didn’t think he felt the same. “Oh that’s ridiculous Victoria. He doesn’t even know you yet. I’ll ask them over again and we can play charades or something. That will get us all interacting”.
I continued on “What about first impressions? I thought him attractive but he couldn’t have thought anything of me or he would have asked me out. In fact he hardly spoke to me all night. I bet he went off to a party or to meet someone. You did tell me that he didn’t have a girlfriend though”.
“I will try and find out from Margery, his mother what his feelings towards you were. I thought he quite liked you myself” and with that she went off to play tennis.
I couldn’t get Lyndon out of my mind and continually day dreamed of going out on a date with him. But I knew he would never fancy someone like me.
My brother was extremely smart and each week went to the aeronautics club where he mixed with the intellectuals and nerds of the area. He was really into that sort of thing.
One morning after being at his club the night before, he came into the dining area waiting to be served his breakfast when he turned to me and said, rather smugly “I met someone who knew the ‘Charles’s’ last night at the aero club.
“Really” I said back, not that interested.
“A good friend of Lyndon’s” he said slowly as if teasing me “and he knew all about coming to dinner the other night”
“What do you mean he knew all about it? What did he say Lyndon said?”
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings” he continued
“Since when have you thought about my feelings? Go on tell me”
It didn’t take much to persuade my brother to be cruel so he told me “You are very unattractive and extremely boring…and don’t know what’s going on outside of these four walls”.
I felt as if someone had slapped me in the face. I could have taken one of those criticisms but all three was a bit much. But not wanting to cry in front of my brother I excused myself from the table, went upstairs to my room and cried there.
I lay on my bed crying and thinking – trying to decide, in-between wiping my eyes and blowing my nose, just what I could do. I was fed up with my life the way it was. Why couldn’t I look attractive to the opposite sex – it wasn’t enough that I had more money than I needed. Being unhappy took the shine off that.
I must have dozed off and when I woke, it was as if I had found the answers I needed in a dream. I decided that in the morning I would tell my mother.
“You’re what?” my mother said in a louder than usual voice. “Why on earth would you want to do that? She asked utterly astounded at my suggestion.
“Because I need to live a bit” I told her “I’m stuck at home all the time. I have no friends at Unit because I never go anywhere and I’ll never get a boyfriend being the way I am”.
“What do you mean the way you are?”
“Well look at me…I’m so unfashionable and you’re no role model!”
I regretted saying that as soon as it left my mouth but it was out!
“Oh I had no idea you felt like that Victoria” she said quietly and I knew I had upset her.
“Look Mum, it’s not that you haven’t done everything for me, but that’s the problem, I need to go out and do stuff for myself, so that’s why I’m taking a year out of study and travelling, by myself!”
So that is what I did. I had the money to do it.
I had a plan from the beginning, and I knew what I wanted to look like when I returned home.
After saying my ‘goodbye’s’ I got myself to the airport. I had been a bit teary hugging Mum and Dad but we all knew I would be back. My brother gave me a ‘high five’ and said ‘Look after yourself’ which was a lot coming from him!
My flight was to London – the place for fun, fashion and friends. But I needed more than a fashion makeover – I needed both a structural change and a confidence boost before I stepped into the world of fashion!
The week after arriving I had booked myself in to a top class plastic surgeon for some facial work – so excited at the thought of waking up with a smaller nose and bigger lips!
I was nervous and trembling as I was wheeled through the big door to the operating theatre but when I woke up in my own room a couple of hours later I knew that no matter what, I had done the right thing.
It was a few days before the bandages came off. I was in the private wing of the hospital and able to eat whatever I chose. This would be the start to losing weight!
My nose was still quite swollen when I first looked in the mirror but I was really happy with the results of both the nose and the lips. After about two weeks I looked quite normal and much more attractive – I thought!
I began to find my waist again – it had been hiding under my muffin top for quite some time. I joined a gym and went running each morning. I was beginning to feel alive and just like other twenty year old girls. The friends I met doing my bench presses and squats were fun! They made me laugh and I realised just how much I had missed out on.
I did miss home in some ways and especially my mum – she always only wanted the best for me, but didn’t realise that it actually wasn’t the best. “When are you coming back?” she would ask when we spoke on the phone. And I would tell her “I’ll know when I’m ready to come home”. Then she would say “Are you safe, eating well and enjoying yourself Victoria?” “All three I would answer”
One of the girls I had met at the gym, Linda, told me that I needed some new clothes. “Those clothes you wear don’t do you justice…AND they are about two sizes too big! We’ll go out on Saturday and buy you some new things”. If my mum could see how short some of the skirts were that my new found friends wore she would be having a heart attack!
I didn’t tell anyone about my family life or just how rich we were – I wanted to be liked for who I was. Linda even offered to lend me some of her savings to pay for my new wardrobe because “Surely you can’t afford that in one go?” she said. I told her it was alright because I had a long line of credit!
With my modern look and new found friends and confidence I was having a ball. The night life was full and fun in London and I made the most of it. But after about nine months of living the way I had always dreamt of I wanted to go home. I just felt the need to see my family and let them see me. I wouldn’t change back to the way I was but I didn’t want to lose them either.
To say they were surprised would be the understatement of the decade! My mother kept saying “Is that really you Victoria”. My brother said “Whoa look at you. That’ll get you a man!” My father just hugged me tight, let go, looked at me square on whilst straightening his waistcoat and said “Are you happy?” and when I replied with a resounding “Oh yes daddy” he just smiled.
My mother had invited the ‘Charles’ family around – including Lyndon. I had asked my mother not to tell them I was back from London. I told my stunned mother that I wouldn’t be in for the evening after I had said ‘hello’ to them.
The doorbell rang and in they walked. I stood back a little, and Lyndon, after shaking hands with my father, looked up, saw me, blinked and then the penny dropped. He came rushing over to me “Oh my God Victoria, I didn’t know you were back - you look amazing” he gushed.
“Hello Lyndon. Yes I’m back.” Was all I said
“I still can’t believe it’s you! What are you doing after dinner?” he asked.
“Oh I’m not staying Lyndon. I have a date”. And with that I grabbed my coat and walked through the front door. “I’ll be late Mum” I called.