Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

27 08 2008

 Sometimes I get all wound up and I have a hard time expressing myself. This may be one of those times so please be patient with me.

 This subject has come up a few times in recent weeks and it irks me to no end. Example number one; this post by Kizz. When I read things like this, my mouth drops and I think to myself “How is it possible that you cannot see how beautiful you are?!” Now, I know all about self image and lack of a positive one. I am after all, going to school to be a mental heath counselor. This post is in no way intended to minimize anyones feelings. The thing is though, when I hear or read things like Kizz wrote about, I just can’t believe it and my first instinct is to tell the person all the things about them that I think are beautiful and/or amazing. I did a bit of that in the comment section of Kizz’s blog. I could certainly do more of it here. The thing is though, I know it wouldn’t do a whole lot of good. Like Kizz said “Now all I have to do is try to see what she sees and find it likable myself. Easy peasy, right? Yeah, right. But a good place to start.”

 Example number two; Two women in the office were talking to each other while I was doing some paperwork. The one woman said ” One day I was crossing the street and this guy in a car started yelling at me to hurry up. I got upset because I felt like if I were prettier he wouldn’t have said a thing.” She said it with such sadness in her voice. I really thought she was going to cry. I looked up from my work in disbelief. 

“Do you really think about things like that?” I asked.

“Yes, I really do.” She said still with sadness.

“But you are beautiful!” I said with a hint of confusion in my voice.

“I just don’t feel that way.”

 Now let me tell you a bit about this woman. Physically she is very attractive. She is thin and petite and she has a great smile and nice hair. There is more. So much more. She is smart, funny compassionate, kind, and  empathetic. She truly cares about people and she is passionate about her work. She takes the most broken people and helps them learn to take care of themselves. She is absolutely amazing. How is it that she can’t see that?

 I can’t even stand the standards society has placed on women.( Let me back up a bit and say that it starts with kids. Fairy tails and Barbie dolls. What a great idea! Let’s drive the message home that you need to be rescued by someone else! But! You will only get rescued and lived happily ever after if you look like Barbie!)  We must weight this much. Our hair must be styled this way. If we don’t wear this than we are not cool. So what if the shoes hurt our feet and cause leg and back problems after long term wear? They look good so we will wear them. 

 Fuck that.

 I know, some of you may be saying that it easy for me to say because I am thin. The truth is though, sometime when I look at myself I am not always happy with what I see. Why is that?

 For me, not only do I get the messages from the media and society , I also get them from my friends. They tell me that I should pluck my eyebrow. (Yes, I left the “s” off on purpose. I almost have a unibrow.) They tell me I should dress differently so I show off my body more. Grow my hair so I look less like a dyke. Cut my hair because it is getting to shaggy. Loose the glasses and get contacts.

 No.

 I refuse to be a slave to my eyebrows. I will only wear clothes that are comfy. My hair length depends on my mood and the outside temperature. The thought of having something stuck to my eye ball wigs me out. 

 This is me. Take it or leave it. When are we going to learn to appreciate people just as they are? More importantly when are we going to learn to appreciate and love ourselves just as we are?

 I got a complement from a co-worker today. She said my butt looked really good in the pants I had on. That made me feel good. The one I got from another co-worker yesterday made me feel even better;

“You are always so happy!”

 She looked inside of me. Why don’t we do more of that? For me, what is inside is way more attractive than what is on the outside. Not to say physical attraction doesn’t have it’s place, it does. But for me, the more attractive the person is on the inside, the more physically attracted I become. Typically I am physically attracted to “fems”. Years ago I met this woman who I thought was not my type. The more I got to know her, the more attracted to her I became. Suddenly, I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world and I fell in love. The relationship didn’t end up lasting but I was a better person for having been with her. I love her still to this day and thankfully, we are still friends. Imagine what I would have missed out on, and would still be missing out on, if I wasn’t able to put the “type” bullshit aside. 

 What I want is to be loved just as I am. For the most part, I love myself just as I am but sometimes I forget. As I write this, I am thinking that maybe I should add a page to my blog. I am thinking maybe once a day I will write something about me that I really like. Maybe if I do that I can look at it when I feel like my ass looks fat and remind myself what it is really all about; what I got goin on on the inside.

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13 responses

27 08 2008
Kizz

For me, yeah, it’s about meeting a standard but it’s about being back to a place where I felt hot. I’m not sure how to explain this but there was this moment about a year and a half ago where I looked at a picture of myself and didn’t recognize me. So I took steps to get back to somewhere that I’d felt attractive. Now, it so happens that that place was one where someone specific had been attracted to me so I don’t know where that fits in terms of societal standards. Even now I don’t feel like I’m not enough, like someone won’t want me, but I do feel like I don’t want to look at a picture that throws me into that “WHO IS SHE” mode again. I look at all the pictures more carefully now since it was such a surprise the first time.

27 08 2008
Jules

Yes! Yes! Yes! Sometimes it seems like we spend 90% of our time worrying about our physical appearance and 10% (or less) concentrating on being better people. How much more wonderful would this world be if we swapped those percentages? Of course, I’m one to talk because I’m more like Kizz than I am like you as far as body image but it’s a work in progress.

The first blogs that I read when I started searching for good reading material were the blogs of Mrs. Chili, Kizz, Organic Mama, and yours. Kizz has posted clear pics of herself so I know better what she looks like than the rest of you because your pics are usually somewhat obscured to protect your privacy I assume. From what I can tell you all appear to be physically beautiful women but that had nothing to do with me reading your blogs. I was so attracted to the heart each of you showed to us. I’m so sad that I don’t live closer because it just seems like hanging out with you guys would be so wonderful. Often, reading your blogs or your comments on my blog feels like a warm hug.

I love your idea of daily affirmations. Can I steal it? I’ve committed to writing something positive every day for 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday and I would love to include writing something positive about myself, also.

27 08 2008
mrschili

I left a comment for Kizz that it’s not about the container, really; I don’t love people because of the way they look. I’m interested in what’s on the INSIDE.

I’m with you – while it’s nice to get comments about my appearance, I’d much rather someone tell me how nice or kind or compassionate I am – the body that moves my spirit around is secondary to the energy that makes me who I am. I’m not eyes or tits or legs – I’m the light that I bring to this party.

One of my biggest challenges is to raise my girls to understand this. Yes, they love Barbie and the fairy tales, but I’m working hard to make them understand that REAL women look like you and me and Kizz and Grandmom (yes, even Grandmom), and that REAL women are equal partners in their relationships, and that REAL women can do anything they put their minds to. It’s a constant push against the messages of society (and school friends whose mothers buy into the make-up ads), but it’s worth it.

27 08 2008
Mrs. G.

I actually have a decent self image-until I’m reminded over and over again about what I should be doing to look better. I just say “fuck it” over and over when I start to feel the pressure and then I am fine again.

27 08 2008
twoblueday

I pretty much said everything I have to say about “pretty” and looks in general in my post “Pretty Edition.

I don’t call anyone “pretty,” and don’t think of them that way. The word “hot” is at least as odious ad “pretty.”

Done.

28 08 2008
whodoesshethinksheisanyway

Gerry, the above link takes me to a page that says something like “You are not authorized to edit this post.” When I went directly to your site, the post was blank.. Does that mean you have nothing to say about “pretty”?
Jules, feel free to “steal” my idea about affirmations!

28 08 2008
twoblueday

My post exists, so I parbly screwed up the link.

28 08 2008
Laurie B

Yay! You’ve got it! Your light shines!

Thanks for the posts about Boursin cheese (I’d forgotten about it) and the Follett book. Picked up both and am looking forward to the weekend at the camp. Burgers with Boursin and a good book and my BEW!

28 08 2008
Organic Mama

This is SUCH a vital issue to keep in the forefront of our minds as women in this media-saturated culture and we HAVE to keep talking about it. I am with CHili in the insistence that we raise our daughters to see through the garbage and keep on saying, “fuck it” when their self-identities are in crisis. We are imperfect and beautiful and we need to glorify that!

28 08 2008
NHFalcon

The funny thing is, I read this and felt compelled to comment…

But now that I’m here, I don’t know what to say!

You’re all right – it is wrong that there’s such an emphasis on physical attractiveness, and that society has a lot to do with what those expectations are. I don’t know that “pretty” or “hot” are odious terms, with all due respect, Twoblue (they are, after, intended to be compliments), but I understand what you’re saying.

That being said, in answer to your question, Auntie, of “when are we going to learn to appreciate and love ourselves just as we are?” I would say “Never.”

Sad as that may be, I think that’s the truth. As long as humanity has been around, we’ve been trying to look good. Do a little research – you’ll find that we’ve been wearing jewelry, makeup, idolizing certain body types, etc., etc., etc… since we’ve been walking upright. We created pantheons that included gods and goddesses of love that were, of course, amazingly beautiful. I think its homo sapiens’ version of male birds’ bright plumage and other animal species’ females insistence of mating only with the males who prove their manhood by winning a fight or having the hottest mating dance or whatever.

Let’s not forget, after all, that, despite our opposable thumbs and towering intellects, we are still animals. We have some stuff hardwired into us.

I’m as guilty of it as anybody else. Do I love Cookiemaker because she’s smart? Of course. Because she’s funny? Well, duh! Because we have stuff in common? Naturally. But why did I bother to find out those things about her in the first place? Because I saw her and said to myself, “Whoa! How YOU doin’?!” 🙂

Sad as it is to say, not all of us are Twoblue, who has, in his own blog and his comments on others’, demonstrated himself to be a remarkably deep individual. Some of us are pretty shallow – we’re single, we see a member of the opposite gender for the first time in our life and, not having anything else to go on, make a decision as to whether or not to say “hi” based on what that person looks like.

The only thing that makes me feel better about myself for being this way is the fact that women are as guilty of it as men. My friend CelticWriter has been involuntarily celibate for as long as I can remember because he doesn’t look like George Clooney. He’s smart as a whip, funny as hell, lives on his own, is gainfully employed, and isn’t gay, but he can’t get a date because he doesn’t have Brad Pitt’s face and Michael Phelps’ body. Playboy and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue aren’t the only magazines that drive a certain look into women’s psyches – after all, tell me when the last time was Cosmo didn’t have a babe with her boobs hanging out on the cover? And, oh, BTW – Barbie was created by a woman.

Wow – that’s a lot of stuff for not knowing what I wanted to say, huh? Maybe that rant came from needing to apologize for some of my (stereotypical) “guy” tendencies. I don’t know. In the end, just remember that I do agree that all the focusing on the body “style” over the human “substance” is wrong, and that anybody who feels insecure about her- or himself because of the way he or she looks should just try (hard though it may be) to ignore the media and society and listen to the opinions of those who really matter – friends and family.

28 08 2008
whodoesshethinksheisanyway

Falcon, I have been known to say “How you doin?” too. Really, there is nothing wrong with finding someone attractive. And yes, woman are just as guilty of it as men. I have no issue at all with it, as long as it is done either respectfully or in fun.
Women’s magazines are probably worse offenders than Playboy or SI. I have read them both and I am always disgusted by the content of women’s mags. The “How to lose 20 lbs in 10 weeks!”, “How to look 10 years younger!” bullshit makes me sick. The theme is that something is always wrong with women and it needs to be fixed right now. Ugh.
As far as Playboy goes, everyone knows the photos are air brushed and at least they give you some how to tips you can really use like how to make a good mojito. The political articles are pretty good too.

29 08 2008
mrschili

Auntie, I went in and fixed Gerry’s link – Everyone go up and check it out; it ought to work now.

love ya!

Chili

31 08 2008
twoblueday

Of course saying someone is “pretty” or “hot” is intended as a compliment, and I have no issue with people doing so. I just don’t do it because I’d rather say something that meant something to me. I really don’t ask people to do things the way I do (although, of course, the world be a paradise if they did!).

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