Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

I am not beautiful in the traditional sense.

I've known this for a very long time. And I'm OK with But it took me three and a half extraordinarily long decades of self-abuse before I was willing to recognize, acknowledge and own what beauty I did possess.

This afternoon, 3 of the strongest, most intelligent, self-assured and confident women I know came together with me to record episode 1 of the podcast, Sharp Pointy Objects. For 3 hours (don't worry, we'll be editing that down) we talked about self-image, self-esteem, true beauty, bullying.

Toward the end of the recording, after I'd listened to each of their experiences growing up female, I found myself making confessions...things I'd never intended to disclose. I'd dropped out of high school, in part, so I wouldn't have to take Physical Education during which, I knew, I'd be mercilessly made fun of. Like how, at the age of 13 and after having lost a significant amount of weight when Blind Betsy signed me up for Weight Watchers, I discovered something even better than dieting...bulimia. Like how, after years of yo-yo dieting, I'd gotten to the point where surgical intervention wasn't just an option but became a life-saving necessity.

This is the life I've led...for better or for worse.

A few years ago, Gretchen - ultimately a friend (I forgive you completely) and sometime adversary - told me, "Don't you understand? We don't love you because you are pretty or because of the things you do to make our lives better. We love you because you are you. Because you are gold. 100% gold inside. It shines through especially when you don't know it. I wish you'd just know it. It's so rare what it is you possess inside you! You are so special! So beautiful! You have no idea, do you?"

No. I don't. Likely I don't know even now.

All I know, what I have to feel good about myself now, is that I am kind. I am loving. I am understanding. If you need a gentle ear, I am here. If you want an ego boost, I am here to give you just that. If you want or need advice, I'm the girl to which you should turn. I'm educated in that kind of advice, don't you know. THAT is what makes me gold.

What I don't know is how to be traditionally beautiful. I do not know how I can live up to impossible standards of beauty. I can't be thin. I can't be adorable. I can't be that vapid pretty girl that catches your eye. I can't be perpetually 20 years old... I never got to be 20, or 12, or 5. I can't be someone who counts in your standard of beauty because...

I'm just ME, in my infinite wisdom. A me that has endured more than you can possibly imagine to become who I am today.

Ain't that fucking grand?!

So. The next time you're compelled to share that picture of an obese woman on Facebook and make fun of her, I'm going to ask you now to think of me first. Do you laugh at me behind my back? Do you harbor me ill will when I soothe your aching heart? Do you hate me?

Because when you make fun of someone who is fat, ugly, or, in your opinion, worthless, you're making fun of me. FYI.

Am I worthless?

You be the judge.


Teresa said...

I too, have spent a lifetime feeling the same way you do. I'll spend the rest of my lifetime trying to figure out how I can disregard what others think and realize that I am worthy of being loved. Just. The. Way. I. Am.

I need to see the beauty that others see in me when I look into the mirror. I want to see a sexy woman. I want to see a pretty woman. I want to see a little girl that I lost many years ago.


I will.

I love you in your infinite wisdom. And I love you because you're you.

Well....and because you love CHEESE.


Kelly Robinson said...

"I am not beautiful in the traditional sense." Good. I've never cared much for "traditional." "Traditional" is what makes old ladies wear ugly shoes and pantsuits, and why instant mashed potatoes sound like fine home cooking to some folks. Give me non-traditional any time.

Laine Griffin said...

So beautiful, Jane.
Jane, Jane, beautiful Jane.
What a wisdom-atic, inspiring dame!

Gaelyn said...

"Traditional" beauty is Fake! Who wants it anyway. Society puts Way too much pressure on especially young people to be cool. No wonder so many of us are f**ked up, or have been.

Be real. That's all I ask of myself and others. Don't pass judgement.

You Are BEAUTIFUL! From the inside is The most important.

And you are Brave for sharing this.

Good luck on the podcast editing.

spux said...

Janeface, I think you are freaking beautiful. P.S. you have that coy "come hither" look totally nailed.

alienbody said...

You are in my head again. Hugs!

"waxing" in my word verification. That just made me EL-OH-EL.

Lucy said...

I have fought my weight my entire life, well, since puberty. My best friend in Junior High, referred to me as "Big Girl" like the Frisches "Big Boy" I was humiliated with that comparison, I was in eighth grade.

I don't find the Walmart page funny, well, wait, I should rephrase, I do laugh at some of the outfits but not at the weight of the person. I have more family members that are heavy or obese than I can count and I would hate to see one of them on the Walmart page, oh and some days, when I walk out of the house, well, I probably should definitely double check my outfit or not go in a Walmart because I clearly have some clothes that could place me on the Walmart page, you know, my Burnt Orange hat? Or the fact that sometimes I have dared to run out in my ugg slippers, yikes!

Oh, I can't wait for the podcast!!

cdnkaro said...

I also am very eager for this podcast! Thank you so much for your candid post, Jane. I've always been a bigger girl as well, and it's something I accept about myself, though I'm not yet at a place where I can celebrate it. Even when in the best shape of my life and a national all-star athlete, I was a bigger girl. The shape of our body doesn't determine who we are. Really appreciated today's post.

I have one from November entitled "Why I'm ok with my postpartum body" that might be of interest to you.

You are a beautiful person-this much I knew, before having ever seen a picture of you!

Anonymous said...

I had been thin practically all my young life, Jane, and now that I am older I am fat. It didn't used to bother me, I was, for the most part, self-assured. My husband loves me for me, and actually likes me "plump," he says. But since becoming menopausal, 3 years ago now, my self-esteem has gone down-hill. Sigh!

I loved your post. I needed to read your post. And I LOVE you, too, beautiful, beautiful Jane! :)

Thank you, and BIG hugs,

TangledLou said...

"Traditionally beautiful" is all relative - depending on whose traditions you follow. My tradition? Taught to me by my Dad: pretty is as pretty does. You, my dear, are drop-dead gorgeous. Every bit of you.

Masked Mom said...

Fucking grand, indeed. Looking forward to the podcasts!!!!

Ernie Hendrix said...

Worthless? You? Not by a long shot. You (and I) have an incredibly strong internal critic. I'll bet that in your head you beat yourself up mercilessly. You, in your infinite wisdom, are worth a lot to me and I don't even know you personally.

Remember, we, your friends, don't want perfection. We want you. Heck, it may be that your imperfections are what make you so interesting!!

Looking forward to the podcast.

(Ms.) Ernie

Shari said...

I, for one, and I seriously doubt that I am alone in this, have always thought you were completely beautiful. It doesn't hurt that you're an amazing person as well.

Anonymous said...

Excellefaburific! I see someone cast in a movie as a hideous kid/man/woman based on their weight and I wonder why they agree to take on such a role and REALLY wonder what the parents of the kid actors could possibly be thinking. As a parent, if I had a chubby kid, I would NEVER let them play the part of the deserves-to-be-made-fun-of character. Never.

I have several friends who've lost large amounts of weight--a few by sheer determination and a few with surgical intervention and sheer determination. All are beautiful now and all were beautiful before.

One really cool thing about getting to know people online is that we often know very little of their physical appearance. They could be freakishly gorgeous or freakishly unattractive--no matter. We are drawn to their hearts and their minds. We open ourselves in ways that we might not with the folks at work and because we do, we develop really some really wonderful relationships based on the stuff that matters. Based on the real beauty we see in one another.

I love your kindness, wisdom, humor, openness, and way of looking at the world. Those are the things that keep me coming back. This stop is always one of my very favorites--I feel like I can come in, grab a cup of coffee, put my feet up, and exhale here. Perfection.

PS: My CAPTCHA word is remoonne.