Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Almost Always Awesome

I started writing this as a comment and change dmy mind because of drinking and an obnoxious desire, need to be heard and correct and fucking whatever

Tell your daughters they are pretty, tell your sons they are handsome. Don't take that away from them. I was raised by a third generation feminist (my great grandma was a militant, low-class suffragette. She trapped her drunken abusive husband beneath giant, burning stones she heated in the fireplace and left him passed out on the floor while she hopped on a boat to the states and never saw him again. He drowned their firstborn because she wasn't a son.) and the mom rarely, rarely, rarely told me I was pretty. I know she did it because she wanted me to place value in other things, but the result? I've never felt pretty. ever, in my life, I never valued being attractive until I realized that it mattered so much to everyone else.

I automatically don't trust men who tell me I'm beautiful, because the people I trusted most in the world never gave me that. I don't feel comfortable trying to look nice. If a friend, someone I trust and respect and value, tells me I look nice? I go into the nearest bathroom and change my appearance. If they say, "are you wearing blush? You look great" I'll wash it off. If they like my hair, I will change it. And then I have to deal with the inevitable: you don't trust my opinion? or why did you change, you looked so pretty?

I don't even think I can look nice, and I'm not ugly. Never felt ugly. But I've also never felt beautiful, I can't even lie to myself and pretend it's possible. Please, please, please, always remind your children that they are beautiful, both genders. I'm not saying that you don't, or that you won't...but it fucked me up. I have no sexual confidence. I firmly believe that I can offer anything in ways of conversation or opinion, talk to anyone, understand a difficult concept, play a game, offer advice, stand up for the underdog, compete in sports, play an instrument, win an argument, build and create, there are lists lying around here somewhere of things I know I can do.

Everyone deserves to be valued in every way I guess. But you know, shut up drunk Rass. Go back to your "I'm always awesome" way of doing things.

12 comments:

  1. It's funny that you posted this because I've been thinking a lot about the comment from Ruby and not focusing her praises to her children solely on how beautiful they are and I've been wondering about how I would be when it comes to this.

    My parents always told me I was pretty. In fact, that's about all they told me. I know they transmitted courage and strength and other things to me somehow, but they never told me outright. My dad used to say things like "someday you'll meet a wonderful man who you will marry and you will know the joys of serving your husband and the lord and He will give you children". My mom said things like "I want you to go to college so you'll meet a good college boy to support you". I'm not even kidding.

    When I told them I wanted to be a dentist or a vet when I grew up they told me how hard it was to do that. When I told them I wanted to go to Spain, they told me it was scary to go outside the country. I am eternally fucked up for the shit my parents said or never said to me.

    Here in Spain people transmit to their girl children that they are clean and organized and studious and afraid of a whole series of normal activities and that they, like all women, do not get along with other women. But I know they are without exception told they are 'guapisimas'.

    And if I tell you you're fucking beautiful does that mean you're gonna not feel beautiful? Shit, I can't win with you cause I really do feel like you're so fucking beautiful. I just know you are.

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  2. I feel like sometimes I tell my daughter that too much. In fact, I'm worried she's going to grow up with some crazy eating disorder. She's one of those "super tall and super skinny" kids and has been since the day she was born. She weighed 8 pounds and was 24 inches long. Which for anyone who's never had children, that's extremely long. She was the longest child on record in that hospital EVER. She is 8 years old now and just had a physical last month. She is in the 125 percentile for height and 33rd for weight. But she thinks she's fat. She's constantly talking about how fat she is and how she has such a big belly. I don't even know how to handle it. I usually just ignore her completely when she makes these commments because I feel like I'm playing into her if I tell her she's not fat. So perhaps my comments on just how beautiful she is have made her like this? Only time will tell I guess...

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  3. Oh, I was drunk and feeling sorry for myself last night.

    I just don't want Ruby - you hear this, Rube? I don't want you thinking this was anti-you. It was just inspired by you. I got mad respect for your thoughts and actions, don't ever think otherwise.

    With my parents it was always, "You are going to be President someday, because you are smart and likable and in charge of everything."

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  4. Bimbo, I think the only way to combat that is precisely throwing other types of praises towards her like Ruby spoke about to enable her to value other traits besides physical beauty. And because she knows she's getting praise and positive attention from her parents, she will start to value those other things, I think it's just automatic with kids. There is also trying to teach her how to find physical beauty in people that aren't beautiful as defined by any magazine or TV commercial, teaching her that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes and nose types and colors, etc and they don't have to have a flat stomach and not have double chins to be perfect.

    But you know what? I don't actually have kids, so I have no fucking idea. I'm sure you could teach me a hell of a lot more than I could ever teach you about kids. Plus I'm just trying to make myself feel better about my stomach.

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  5. Also Bimbo, remember that I was very drunk last night and chances are I'm making excuses.

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  6. First of Rossi, you are beautiful. No matter how many times you cringe over it, I've seen pictures. The problem is how we define beauty. We define it by pulling out genetic anomolies, airbrushing them to further "perfection" and then holding these up as a standard we must all measure up to.

    It took my husband imparting his own view of my body onto me to find some peace and even then, I have days where I look at the flesh of my thighs or my little pot and feel disgusted.

    We also cheat our boys by feeding them a steady diet of these images.

    I know you weren't directing this at me-no worries. I do tell my kids they are beautiful, just not to the exclusion of the other things. And my son's "girlfriend" is this shy, gawky, nerdlette that towers above him(and he's quite tall) and I tell him how beautiful she is, and awesome and fun and how smart and how smart girls are more fun to be around.

    It's really tough because as parents, you have to work with what you know AND what you are. I am vain and no matter how much I mitigate that, my girls will grow up in an environment where they know mom cares a lot about how she looks. Whether I say it or not, they will care about how they look. As a feminist, I grappled over barbies and makeup and letting my kids see that I wax my cha, and the time I spend doing my toenails instead of reading Germain Greer and changing the world....

    Gene and I make a point of not talking about weight with our kids. They are so fucking perfect and don't have any of the emotional issues with food we both do. I am a comfort eater and have struggled with weight my whole life. So when my MIL(who spent years being bulimic) tried to give my hurt 2 year old a cookie, I almost tackled her. Hug her, hold her, let her calm don in your arms but don't teach her that food fixes things. I want her comfort to come from her mother not the grocery store. And when my anorexic sister in law, whi is in her 40's, picked at her pizza at a kid's bday party and said in front of all of them, "food is the enemy" I almost decked her from across the table. Kids listen to everything, we, say, everything.(except when you ask them to go wash their hands apparently).

    Yes Rossi, I think you value them for all the things that make them special, and you don't talk shit about people in front of them, like they're fat or she's ugly... Sidenote: My mother has always spoken very ill of therapy and meds and mental problems, mostly because her sister that she despises has issues her. Even though it was more about my mom picking out her weakness(there's a lot of jealousy between the 2) and harping on it, when I went on anti depressant after my last daughter was born, I didn't tell her. That's often how things translate tot kids, and why you have to think about what you say.

    August 12, 2010 9:29 AM

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  7. I was comforted with food as well. In reality, it was the only expression of love I ever got from my mom. Broken heart, here - let me make you a cherry cobbler. Fight with your girlfriend, I know how to make you feel better, lets order in your favorite pizza.

    Food is love for me. I'm working on dropping 30 to 40 pounds, having thrown myself at the feet of Ms. Jenny Craig. I tell my 8 year old twins mommy is not dieting. I tell them I'm working toward a more healthy lifestyle. And yes, I tell them how beautiful they are all the time. Sometimes I ask them if they know how beautiful they are and they always smile and say something like, duh, of course we are.

    But here's the interesting thing. My twins are genetically identical, haven't been separated more than a few days their entire lives and therefore have essentially eaten the same meals since day one. Yet, and this is a very important yet, one of them eats until she's satisfied and walks away. The other eats like her mother, like it's a ceremony and she's been fed the nectar of the Gods. If she likes something, she wants more. I know she's full but the act of putting that food in her mouth is too satisfying to stop.

    Could it be we come into this world with a lot of our funky traits and beliefs already established?

    I never thought of myself as beautiful Rossi. I was the same as you. I could NEVER accept a compliment. But there's something about growing older that somehow allows you to grow into your own personal beauty, both inner and outer. It comes with time, patience and practice. Don't wait for it - start now. I know the alcohol was doing a lot of that writing last night but in the light of day, start with a single glance. Look yourself in the mirror and smile.

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  8. Rass--you're a fucking pied piper. Half the blogosphere would gladly follow you off a cliff. Plus, even in the little picture with the scrunched up face--I don't see any warts or long-ass nose hair. Give yourself,and your parents, a break. They gave you brains and guts and talent.

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  9. Agree totally. From a different angle, my parents stomped heavily on any ideas of being attractive.

    When I was 8, I was convinced I was fat. I compared myself with women in images who had grown boobs, waist and hips, and my sticky out tummy seemed fat, although it's normal for 8 year olds.

    In my twenties I obsessed about fat thighs.

    At 48, I look back and sigh sadly about the unnecessary hard time I gave myself. I was lovely - not Claudia Schiffer , but you know, people didn't have to avert their faces or anything.

    I don't like the cracks opening up on my face now, but I know now it only goes downhill, and I'm not prepared to go on punishing myself myself for something that in 10 years time I will look back on and say "if only I'd appreciated it at the time".

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  10. The truth about me and all of this pretty business took place at at concert about 15 years ago:
    Me to a friend: "Do I look OK?"
    Friend: "You look totally hot!"
    Me: "What? I don't want to look hot. I want to look like I could kick somebody's fuckin' ass."

    Also? I am abnormally (according to 'them') thrilled with everything that is happening to my body in my mid-40's. I have an amazing gray streak through my hair, my muscles are becoming this wonderful kind of sinewy, and my face has all of these wonderful wrinkles that speak to me of where I've been and that I absolutely have purpose.

    All of this when I was raised to keep myself physically together with perfection, youth, precision and style. My mother even decided it was a good idea at one point to make sure my posture was so good that I could move about the house with a book on my head and not drop it.

    Yeah, I can show up at formal events completely put together and looking as lovely as ever. But, you know, I still make sure there's a little something that makes it perfectly clear that I can kick some fuckin' ass at any moment.

    Love!

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  11. Oh god, honey, I can relate.

    I never thought that I was pretty. And anyone who told me I was, was lying or wanted something or both.

    But then I was married to someone who for 16 years agreed with me. Or at the very least, did not have one nice/flattering/complimentary thing to say about me. And even though I didn't think I was pretty, fuck HIM for not thinking that.

    If I had thought I was pretty, could I have convinced him otherwise? Because somewhere in my early 30s, I started to think maybe, just maybe, I wasn't all bad. But, as it turned out, he just couldn't go there with me.

    Done, done, on to the next one.

    (And as of late, a man I like very much can't stop telling me how pretty I am. I am trying very hard not to roll my eyes when he tells me. Just going to let him say it until it stops sounding silly.)

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  12. i've never had any real hangups about my looks (my body issues are a whole 'nother story, but one for a different day). i've never been one of those women who says to guys, "how do i look?" as a pretense of fishing for compliments.

    and yet, my husband never ever tells me i look nice, or cute. he never says anything disparaging, and i know he loves and desires me. but he never comments on my appearance.

    and it turns out, i need that. i need validation that someone is attracted to me. i think we all do.

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