Sunday, October 22, 2006

I wrote this in 2003. It still rings true.

Looks fucking matter.

There. I said it. Not like that fact should really shock anyone, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my saying it outright like that probably will.

And you know what? I don't give a fuck.

See, apparently it isn't acceptable or even normal for a woman of my age, education, and (supposed) intelligence to want to be pretty. It isn't right or good for a mother of girls to openly care so much about her's a bad influence on the kids. Indeed, my values are completely fucked up. And I'm beyond caring.

I want to be pretty. I don't remember a time when I didn't, and honestly, besides a stable home and financial security, there is nothing I have ever wanted more. You may notice something about the things I want....I never actually had any of them, and when I was young, I never got to hear the end of it. My family was irreparably fucked-up, we were poor, and I was ugly, and there wasn't a goddamn thing I could do about any of it. I vowed a long time ago that once I did have the power to change what I hated about my life, I would. A day would come when no one would ever laugh at me again....because there would be nothing to laugh at.

I was never really criticised for my work ethic or drive to make money, at least not by anyone outside my family. Lucky for me, society deems the desire for wealth a good thing. Even though I heard my share of, 'She's such a smart girl, it's a shame she'll never amount to anything coming from that family' growing up, it wasn't beyond any of these idiots' realm of comprehension that I might be able to earn degrees and get financially....ahem....comfortable. But appearance? Well, that I just wasn't supposed to care about.

Some well-meaning person once told me (I was about 8 or so at the time)- 'You're not a pretty girl. You never will be. But you're uncommonly bright, and that is more important.'
I honestly don't remember who said it (it was either a teacher from school or some relation), but I remember being told it as if it were yesterday, because the first response that popped into my head, even if I didn't say it, was, 'No! It's not! I want to be pretty!' But I already knew at this point I was big and dowdy and frumpy looking, so I didn't even bother to argue. I had been sent to a psychologist in Killarney to be IQ tested for the first time about a year previous, and I officially had the highest score my rinky-dink little school had seen. I'd never admit how little that fact thrilled me, but I figured if maybe I concentrated a bit harder on revelling in my smart-ness, my unfounded shallowness would disappear. Unfortunately, that didn't work. I might've put it on the back burner for a few decades and worked triple-time on the intellectual (all the while looking like the poster-child for Grunge-era bum-ness), but the shallowness still remained. My application to Mensa was actually nothing more than a last futile attempt to convince myself brains were enough....I mightn't be cute and trendy enough to get past the velvet ropes at clubs or to elicit a second look from non-inebriated men, but I've got smarts enough for 7 people and I'm a member of an intellectual elitist society that says so. Right. If anything, my acceptance to Mensa proved nothing but how desperately I needed to stop being so one-sided. I don't think it was that that caused me to snap and go vanity-mad, but it happened shortly thereafter.

I am not going to try to justify having eating disorders, and I sure as hell am not going to claim that it makes any sense whatsoever that a woman who's supposedly so fucking brilliant has actually attempted to starve herself to death and needs to watch herself like a hawk to make sure that doesn't happen again. I know I'm not all there, but what I'm trying to say is that it isn't the vanity that defines my instability. I'm bipolar, for fucksake. I've got chemical imbalances galore, and they all run in my family. These people have been unstable for centuries, why the hell should I be any exception? My vain side, though, I've come to realise, is probably the most normal thing about me. Women's lib bullshit aside, you must admit (though you needn't admit it aloud) that females are still primarily judged on their looks. A smart female in many cases has to overcome her intelligence like a disability, as men (and other women) are intimidated by a girl whose brains pose a threat to them and their positions. I tried to deny all this in my many attempts to become un-vain, but all my suspicions were confirmed and then some once I began actually taking an active interest in my appearance. And it affected far more than my professional life. As a size 20 who wore a plain ponytail, men's jeans, and no makeup, I was ignored by sales help in stores and (ironically) waitstaff in restaurants, rarely had doors held for me, and generally felt invisible. After a loss of a mere 30 or so pounds, a haircut, a makeover, and new glasses frames, however, I was suddenly transformed into an actual entity, something other than negative space. A loss of a few more pounds and some trendier clothes, and the situation improved yet again. I could not help but notice a pattern. My appearance affected the way people treated me.

No, I look nothing like I did back in 1990 (perish the thought!) fact, I dare say I look better now than I did when I first tested my theory. But even still, I can't help but notice I'm slipping. Okay, so maybe I never will be pretty, but notice the icon? Fake it till it's real? Nice clothes + nice figure + nice hair + a good confident facade = everyone thinking you're more attractive than you really are. Yet another tried and true theory of mine. The problem is, though, I find it really hard even to fake confidence when I feel like a beached goddamn whale.

The last time I was a size 4/6, I was at the lowest weight I'd ever been in my adult life. The last time before that I could fit into a size that small I was probably about 8 years old (no kidding....I was 4'10/115 at 8) I was happy and comfortable because I'd achieved something I didn't think was even possible. But now? Now I know I'm not just a 'big girl'. I'm a tall girl with a tiny frame. I start getting wide, it's not nature, it's fat. Pear-shaped hips and thunder thighs are not my unavoidable fate. They're self-inflicted. I am no longer comfortable with so much as 5 pounds of jiggly flab on my frame, nor am I comfortable writing it off as 'genes' or 'the natural result of having children'. I am not claiming I will honestly be any less painfully average looking if when I get back into a 0/2, but it will give me back the confidence I need to feign attractiveness.

Get it?

Ha. I figured you wouldn't.

But that's my argument. That's my justification for being so fixated on myself and my weight and my looks, for still not giving up hope with this (infernal) diet (despite the fact I fucked up again) and for contemplating....and planning to go through with....liposuction on a few areas I'm just totally fucking fed up looking at. I may be a bit pissed off still that people have forced me to justify my thoughts and actions not only to them, but to myself....but I've done it.

And I have to say, reading this over, disjointed and off-the-top-of-my-head as it is, it finally makes sense to me...which I guess is all that really matters.


Blogger Sportive Tricks said...

I know you aren't fishing for compliments, and I'm certaintly not a dumb pike, but I honestly don't know what you are talking about.

Wait, I take that back. Of COURSE I know what you are talking about. Jesus christ, I have two missing teeth and a hearing aid. As soon as any guy starts hitting on me in a bar sees that thing, he starts to back away... but I remember the first thing I thought when I met you was how striking your bone structure was. I mean model-striking. I don't think, aside from plastic surgery, there's much you can do about that. If you are anything like me, you'll probably find a way to turn a compliment into an insult (its a gift). You may have to work hard at being pretty, but from one ornery woman to another, believe me, you're gorgeous. And fuck the "inside," I don't know anything about the inside. You could be Quasimodo on the inside for all I care : p.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Eric N. said...

I think I can understand your perspective. Peoples opinion of you is greatly affected by how you look... why the hell else would I wear these collared shirts, belt, dark slimming slacks, and black shoes?

Sure, maybe someone with a less sartorial sense, or a ruffled haircut might have a programmatical answer to the companies problems, but I doubt he'll be able to sell it to the higherups, more so be taken seriously.

Looks matter. And I'm glad to read about someone of the fairer race "getting it".

11:00 PM  

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