Monday, April 28, 2008


I'm having a Barbra Streisand moment, I reckon. The joke always has been that in Barbra’s movies (that she’s directed, that is), there’s always a moment that can be pointed at as her proclaiming “MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME I WAS PRETTY!” Think back to “Prince of Tides” and all the lingering shots of Barbra’s immaculate manicure, Donna Karan clothes, perfect make-up, elegantly coiffed ‘do. Almost every shot containing Barbra screams “FUCK YOU MOM I AM MAKING OUT WITH NICK NOLTE FTW” Shit, if I had more money than God and was making a movie, it’d probably be one long paean about how no one ever has told me I’m pretty or beautiful.

What’s so irksome is that it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. It’s not supposed to, if I’m going by the Official Handbook* you’re given when you’re hopped up on feminism, HAES and fat acceptance. I should be completely inured to anyone’s opinion on the superficial. I shouldn’t be craving such trivial things. I think, “well, you’re always on the defensive waiting for someone to take a shot at you because you’re fat, so maybe you’re so defensive that you’re not HEARING the compliments”. Well, no. That would be inaccurate. I’ve never been a major make-up wearing, clothes-horsing, shoe-loving kind of woman. I don’t like the way I look in make-up, I generally dress like a 14-year-old fat teenage boy, and my size 10 boats never were and never will be at home in anything but thick-soled Doc Martens, Vans, or Chuck Taylors. As I do tend to dress in a more masculine fashion and my body shape is not hourglass, I’m often mistaken for a man. Couple that with an inability to behave in a more stereotypically feminine fashion, and I’m an It. I’m not a man, not yet a woman (oh, Britney, thank you for that song and my insane need to use variations on it 24/7). And as a result, “pretty” is not a descriptor used by anyone in relation to me, ever. Certainly my parents must have said it at some point, right? Well...not really, exactly. Not too long ago, my father was talking about how Dawn French would be pretty if she lost weight. Seeing as I’m kind of built like Dawn French (just sans the tits), I think it’s fair to infer that I, too, would be pretty if I just lost the weight. I look “nice”. That’s the phrase that has always paid, that I look “nice”. (I’d like to add that to the clichés and platitudes I never motherfucking want to hear ever again, “oh don’t you look...nice”.)

What winds up happening in my messy brain is that I take the most innocuous things personally. When I witness or read compliments on the aesthetic aspects of those around me, I’m immediately spiraled into a “fuck, I’m ugly, fuck, I’m worthless, fuck, I’m nothing” dance routine (jazz hands are involved) that only gets more spiral-y as I then berate myself for giving a shit in the first place. The thing is, though, in today’s society...I am nothing. And at the end of the day, I made that choice. I made the choice to not be someone who won’t leave the house without make-up, I chose to dress for comfort. I made the choice to stop dieting. If you reject the societal norms, society rejects you. There’s no clandestine wink from society at large that says, “well, we don’t necessarily approve, but...gosh, you crazy kid, we love ya anyway!” If you decide to say no, you must be prepared to handle what may follow: ostracization (note: says that’s a word, I swear to Christ), depression, loneliness, regret. If you’re lucky, you’ll find like-minded individuals. But that’s if you’re lucky...and we all know just how lucky I am (saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad trumpet). Well, I should slightly alter that to say I have found like-minded the platonic sense, that is. (saaaaaaadder trumpet)

So then the question is: do I regret the choices I’ve made? Honestly, it depends on the day. If I was 10 years younger, I’d be quick to say “OH HELL NO”. But being 36 and currently enduring one of the more unpleasant depressive spells I’ve had in many years of depressive spells, it’s harder for me to answer “OH HELL NO”. The one I can safely say 100 percent I don’t regret is the dieting thing. Me on a diet = me being a bigger asshole than usual because I was doing the Fat Girl Tap Dance of making sure the world at large KNEW I was working on being a “better person” and would gladly share with anyone who would listen that I was eating “right” and exercising. Perhaps it was interesting conversation to others, but in my head, I was constantly telling myself to shut the fuck up. As for not being a “womanly” woman...that’s a tougher sell as of late. It does sting when I get “mistered”. It’s hurtful to feel like I don’t belong anywhere, really. That I’m not good enough in a wide variety of areas, let alone in the aesthetic one. It’s not terribly festive being an It, being a non-entity. I’m decent at distracting myself with whatever so it’s not a constant rocking back and forth and dwelling on boo-hoo-poor-me. The bitch is that the pain, anger, frustration, and embarrassment sneak up on me. I can be tootling along and feeling decent, and then KA-BAM, I’m mired in a seemingly never-ending retrospective of my Greatest Misses, pulling up each and every regret, every moment where I’ve felt particularly It-like, every rejection, every misstep, every fuck-up, what a fucking enormous mess I’ve made of things. Then comes the full-snot tears while riding public transportation or sitting at my desk at work and it’s like I’m a walking goddamned episode of “Dr. Phil” without the homespun cornpone advice that makes no sense being screamed at me. “What YOU NEEEEED is something we like to call in Texas ‘a sassafrassin’ ramtambler’!”

I am quite the super special snowflake, ain’t I. Believe me, no one’s more exhausted of my ass than I am. But I’ve decided that soon, I must make one of the most important choices of my life: just how dark I want to dye my hair, because my roots—WOOF. Eighteen miles long of mousy brown comin’ into town.

*note: there is no Official Handbook; but you can choose between a toaster oven or an electric skillet

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know you're probably sick of me and my crazy total commitment to the Jane Fan Club, but Jane, my dear, I think you're beautiful. I'm not saying that because you're my friend, or because you're beautiful "on the inside" (most insulting "compliment" ever), I'm saying that because I dead honestly think you're beautiful. I think you're beautiful in your vans, in your chucks, and in your luscious body.
I also think you're beautiful for your genuine amazing kindness and your humour, but mostly for your body. *winkies*

I think societies concept of beauty is warped, and wrong, and not an actual reflection of beauty.

And that ends my Fan Club entry of the day.
Tell me to shut up if you're sick of me.

Also, you should dye your hair a dark black cherry sort of red. It'll look stunning.

Also, I wear makeup, I do my nails, I'm addicted to shoes, and bags, and I pretty much dress like a girly, girl, as you well know, but that doesn't stop people telling me that I'm fat, and ugly, and I dress inappropriate for my size. Beauty is subjective, and a whole bunch of people are getting it wrong.