Oh life, you fickle creature. One minute, you’re feeling on top of the world, the next you’ve fallen arse over tit at the Oscars while the whole world is watching on TV – or at least later on YouTube (sorry to bring that up again J. Law, it’s just such a great example).
In the interests of unpicking perfection, we asked everyone at betty to give share their biggest life fails… and oh boy, they didn’t disappoint. So anytime you feel like you’ve screwed up at life, remember: we’ve probably done worse.
In fact, we definitely have.
I was doing a big race in the summer, running downhill and fell over a big rock. I went flying and landed with a thud and multiple injuries, one of which was a massive cut on my bum. I then had to wait for the medics, who made me lie on the floor while the guy stuck my bum back together, shouting to passers-by, ‘don’t worry, she’s just broken her bum’, while my friend took pictures.
“Having desperately wanted to play the Angel Gabriel in the my whole childhood (I went to a progressive primary school where all the boys had to be angels and the girls had to be shepherds, which I now appreciate was pretty cool but at the time I was mainly, shamefully, concerned with the amount of glitter on my costume), my dream eventually came true when I got to be Gabriel in a nativity play at high school. Aged 16. I wore a rather slinky cream satin bridesmaid’s dress with feathered wings, a majestic halo and a tonne of pearly highlighter. I felt amazing. But when the time came to make my entrance and tell Mary her big news, I managed to step on the trailing hem of my dress as I mounted the podium. I plunged headfirst through the curtain, managing to simultaneously yank down the top of my dress and reveal an eyeful of my celestial bodies to the assembled audience. The silence was only broken by the headteacher calling out “oh look, a fallen angel!” – to my knowledge the only joke she’d ever made. Really glad I handed her that special moment.”
The first time I dyed my hair red I was about 12 and had not factored in how thick my hair was when we bought only one box of dye. By the time she’d done my roots there was barely anything left for the rest of my hair. We hoped for the best, but I ended up with bright red roots, two inches of red, and pale brown hair until the ends. And I had to go to school for a day until we could re-dye it the next night. Everyone called me ‘period head’, because it looked like someone had had their period on my head (we had a bad grasp of biology back then).
“One summer Saturday when I was about 13, my friend and I decided that the only way to deal with the heat was to go to the local pool – and it turned out that my crush and his friend had the same idea. I was desperate to impress him, so I decided to jump off the highest diving platform to get his attention, even though I’m horrendously scared of heights. After crying and hyperventilating my way up the ladder, I summoned the courage to jump and immediately regretted it. The force of the passing air pushed my bikini top up around my chin, and as soon as I hit the water my bikini bottoms made a dash for my ankles. I ended up frantically trying to reclaim my wayward bikini while still underwater, and by the time I surfaced with everything back where it should be, I’d been under for so long that the lifeguard was about to jump in and rescue me. I hoped that my crush had missed the whole thing, but wasn’t that lucky – he spent the next umpteen years calling me “Jumping Boobs”. We never got together.”
I went to a fancypants dance school growing up and we used to compete in festivals a lot. I was quite self-conscious about how I looked compared to the others (I was tall and not as ‘delicate’, puberty hit me early) so never pushed myself for fear of looking silly, but decided to ‘screw it’ and really ‘go for it’ with a lift at the end of one dance. ‘Going for it’ ended up meaning ‘going flying for it’ as I slipped and crashed down on some others, bashing my knee black and blue in the process. I was so embarrassed, cried, and was glared at, but we still came first, so. No one saw anything, right?
“At my high school prom I wore a white dress with a lacy top and a pencil skirt sort of bottom. I looked nicceeeeee. I got talking to a gentleman who turned out to be a semi-professional ballroom dancer – and obviously, when he suggested he showed me some of his moves, I happily agreed. He wanted to do a flip, which basically required me to run at this relative stranger and dive headfirst towards the floor, trusting he would catch and flip me. Because I’m an idiot, I took off my heels and gamely ran at him, launching myself into the air, my arms above my head in dive position. He caught me (thank God) and we pulled the flip off with amazing precision. However, I hadn’t taken into account that my dress was actually quite tight and mid flip I heard a ”RIIIIIIIIIIIIP” (is a rip onomatopoeia? We’ll pretend it is). I ripped my dress from the bottom all the way up to my bra strap. Somebody sourced some safety pins to pin it back together and I walked around for the rest of the night with half my bum hanging out.”
When I was in secondary school there was this bizarre trend for getting tiny little diamantes stuck on to your front teeth. (Yeah, don’t ask.) Anyway, me and my friends thought it was a great idea for doing it ourselves, rather than going to the so-called beauty experts who were doing it for a fiver in nail salons. So we bought the gems and some nail glue, carefully sticking them in place. Turns out we must have used too much glue or the wrong glue, because we were left with sparkly incisors for long after the look went out of fashion again. Safe to say neither our mums or our dentists were very happy with the new look.
“Back when I was 18, I went on a snorkelling trip in Thailand despite being terrified of deep water. We spent a day island-hopping with 30 strangers – it was all going swimmingly (sorry, couldn’t resist) until I looked out at this great expanse of hazy, blue water and had a mini freakout. My imagination went into overdrive, horror scenes from Jaws flashed through my head and I panicked and frantically splashed back towards the boat. What I didn’t realise was that my baggy bikini bottoms had slipped down to my ankles at the exact moment I swam past all those people wearing snorkelling masks. So, to summarise: I made it back to the boat bare bottomed, everyone else got an eyeful and I had to spend the rest of the day surrounded by strangers who had just seen EVERYTHING.”
When I was 14, I wet myself from laughing so much while at the park with my friend and her dad that her dad had to carry my trousers home ON A STICK down the main road while I had a zipped-up hoodie wrapped round my waist like a skirt.
“The first time I went to the hairdressers and asked for a real hairstyle – as opposed to a simple trim – I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted sassy, grown up layers, I wanted hair that casually flicked around my face, that made me look at once meticulously put together and casual and fun. As a family, we did not have the money for hairdressers who are capable of this kind of nuance, so I took my example picture and my dreams to a place called Just Snips, that would cut your hair for three or four pounds. The hairdresser gave me layers. The hairdresser gave me exactly two layers. The bottom layer came down to just above my shoulders, it flicked out slightly at the bottom. The top layer was in line with my ear lobes. I have a lot of hair. A lot. The short, top layer doubled the size of my head. I looked like a mushroom cloud. Everyone needs to have a haircut that drives them to tears at least once in their life, and this was mine. I went back and got them to ‘fix it’ – but I ended up with hair flicking out every which way from my ears to my shoulders. High school got really fun for a while there.”
I fainted on the train in evening rush hour, knocking two other people to the ground, vomited on my own coat, a woman’s shoes and guys suitcase on wheels. Had to be carried off the train, (followed by most of the passengers from the carriage covering their noses) rolled in a blanket on the platform on Paddington station, and made to wait there for doctor to come. I still worry when I get back on that line how many people recognise me from that day and don’t say anything, but keep their distance…
“It was back in the day when dark big and bushy brows (I am naturally born with these) were not yet in fashion. Overwhelmed and self-conscious, I decided to tame my brows a few days before starting university. My mum suggested a trip to the eyebrow threading lady followed by a swift home-bleaching session to “lighten” them up a little. This is something women from the Middle East commonly do – usually your hairdresser would dye your hair and eyebrows together. But we were going to do it at home and neither of us was sure how long bleach would need to take effect on eyebrows. It turned out 10 minutes was too long. When I wiped it off, I found yellow eyebrows. I had to colour my eyebrows in for weeks and made a unique impression at fresher’s week. I haven’t messed with my eyebrows or listened to my mum since.”
I fell down the gap on the tube the other week! I went straight down and had to be helped out by bemused strangers who kept telling me to “get out!” but I was dazed, and my leg got attached to the undercarriage of the train. I just kept saying, calmly, “I’m very tired, so sorry,” as they panicked that the train was going to pull off. One shoe fell off – one felt worse than two, somehow – and a kind (brave) stranger balanced on the edge of the platform to fish it out with a very long umbrella.
“Aged 18, and still riding an A* GCSE wave, I was so, so confident that I’d not only passed my English Literature exam but absolutely smashed it. And I mean confident – I mic dropped my biro. All summer I gloated, telling anyone who’d listen that I guess when I got that school poetry prize aged eight I should have known I had rhyming couplets running through my veins. When summer was over and results day rolled in, I sauntered up to the table to collect my grades – probably (I mean, I was) wearing a charity shop trilby and ripped jeans for the ‘starving artist’ vibe, Pulitzer Prize speech saved in the notes section on my phone. You’ve probably guessed by now that it did not go well. I got a U. Indignant, I paid to get the paper remarked. It was bumped up to an E. I ended up using my free periods to sit in on lessons with students in the year below me for a whole year and, thankfully, eventually passed with a boring old C. But the silver lining is: despite a lot of shattered pride and frustration, I grew a thick skin, which is how I was eventually able to become a paid writer. Stick that in your Tiger Tiger Burning Bright and smoke it, William Blake.”
Last year, I found myself starting a big new amazing job just a week after moving into my new flat. It was a pretty stressful time but I seemed to be holding it all together remarkably well. At least that’s what I thought… until the morning I sat on my peanut butter and strawberry jam bagel. I’d got into the habit of eating my breakfast in my bedroom while getting ready however, on this fateful morning I placed my breakfast on my bed… and then proceeded to sit on it. As the jam penetrated my PJ bottoms, I felt all of my calm and togetherness melt away, and realised that I was actually INCREDIBLY tired. Still, I did what any normal person would do under the circumstances, and took a picture of my jammy bum before whipping off my PJ bottoms, picking my bagel off the floor, and eating it. Yum.
See. Told you we’d done worse.