Monday, December 13, 2010

Beyond body acceptance.

Some days I look in the mirror and I just see fat and awkwardness and totally unmanageable hair. I try and tell myself that I'm beautiful, and that beauty is a totally artificial concept on top of that, and that the social pressures shaping and enforcing beauty and particularly female beauty are positively disgusting, but some days, I'm just not buying. Especially when I've got zits too.

On those days, I remind myself that, well, that person I mentioned doing CPR on a little ways back? They're alive now.

I remind myself that I graduated college at 19 and that at 12 I pulled a man having a seizure out of a swimming pool. I remind myself that I have my name in movie credits and that I once drove an ambulance lights-and-sirens hell-for-leather around a stock car track. I remind myself that I've wetted down a beached dolphin and I've explored an abandoned asylum, been on the national champion debate team (parli) and built trails in trackless wilderness, fucked a Calvin Klein model and broken into the set of "House" during filming. I remind myself that I've helped save more lives than I can even remember. And if there weren't all that going for me, even if I hadn't lived such a dramatic life, I'd still have what anybody has--a huge list of lives I've touched and things I've done, of differences I've made.

Don't you fucking dare tell me all that's nothing unless I'm a hot little hardbody too.

It's good to like your body, but you know, your body isn't the biggest deal about you. (Or rather, your beauty isn't the biggest deal, since few people insulting your body can be dissuaded by hearing how many pounds you can lift or how quickly you recover from injuries.) It's a heartbreaking waste to take a human being, a person rich in history and abilities and relationships and ideas, and judge them on how nice a decoration they make. Maybe that's inevitable when it comes to strangers, but you damn well know better when it comes to yourself. When you're judging your appearance, you're only judging one tiny part of your self.

So I don't tell myself "I'm pretty, really I am" on ugly days. I say "Maybe I am ugly. I'm still fucking awesome."

28 comments:

  1. You truly are Fucking Awesome!

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  2. *applause*

    Though I still haven't figured out how to deal with what seems to be my ground state: "I'm awesome in so many ways but very few people can look past appearances to recognize that, and while it's their loss it's often mine too."

    On the one hand, male privilege being what it is, I'm not typically seen as entirely worthless, but nothing on the list of things I value about myself quite substitutes for social acceptance. How do you navigate that?

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  3. I love your blog. I read every post. I enjoy what you have to share. Then you go and write something like this. Something so perfect and wonderful that it makes me want to scream "Yes!" and cry at the same time. You are 100% correct - you ARE fucking awesome.

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  4. Amazing! Add one more to the huge list of lives you've touched.

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  5. I can't even tell you how much this means to me right now. I haven't had serious body issues for a while now, but something my boyfriend said about a girl he used(?) to love has really been bothering me, because she's the beautiful/perfect type that always made me feel like shit in high school (yes, lame to the max, I know.)

    In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Why would he go for me when he can have her?" but you know what? Maybe it's because I'm fucking great.

    Holly for the win.

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  6. I second Selina's "Holly for the win" and would like to add a "Holly for president." Thanks for this, it's exactly what I needed today.

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  7. Body Acceptance seems much less important than Body Enjoyment, and it seems to me you have that down way better than at least half of the dried out empty eyed plastic sticks they parade around on reality tv.

    If people truly were just meat, I'd be farming that shit for BBQ.

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  8. Holly, I really, really needed that today. As in, I am tearing up. Turning 35 hit me like a train and all I've been seeing lately are wrinkles and lines and saggy bits. Telling myself "Oh, they're not so bad" wasn't helping at all.

    The thought that, yup, I'm wrinkling and sagging like a Shar Pei on a mission, but I'm still fucking awesome is much better.

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  9. My body image has never really affected my self-image. So what if I'm not the most attractive person? I'm reasonably intelligent, strong enough to not have broken under childhood abuse, managed to find my calling in life (teaching), have several fulfilling hobbies, a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, and have friends who care about me.

    Looks have nothing to do with how I see myself. Nor do looks have anything to do with how those I care about see me. The ones that matter most--my husband, my son, and my brand new daughter--already think I'm beautiful, and their opinions are the only ones I care about.

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  10. I second Heroditus. I'm not an attractive guy, and that's about the least important thing that matters to me (which is convenient). Similar to Heroditus, I've got my partners, my spawn, my family and friends, my community(ies), my hobbies, my rabbitscatslizardspeacocksetc., and those are what matter to me. And who I am is (to me) my intellect, my sense of humor, my personality. I don't even need to say to myself that those traits/whatever 'make me beautiful' -- I just don't care about being beautiful. It's pretty far down the list of Meaningful Adjectives To Apply To Humans as far as I'm concerned.

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  11. Oh fuck yeah that was gratifying to read. Also, you ARE freakin' awesome! What amazing things you have done!

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  12. jfpbookworm, if you're awesome in many ways, and people don't see you as totally worthless, and you chalk that up to male privilege, you have another self-image problem at least as bad as your appearance concerns to work on.

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  13. Sorry if it's strange to comment out of the blue, I found your blog linked somewhere a ways back so I've been reading it for a little while. Just wanted to say this is a really lovely post, and also you've done lots of very cool things, fair play there!

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  14. You are quite obviously fucking awesome.

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  15. I look totally dumpy in a gi, as I'm reminded every time sensei films us practicing.

    But...I had two black belts go after me for the tail end of my brown belt test, and I held them off for the full required two or three minutes. I was even pretty calm doing it. Holy shit, I never thought I could do that! Dumpy body, you're totally all right. (It was fun, too. Even quite experienced people flinch if you start throwing them at each other. That's how I plan to handle the four-on-one for black belt....)

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  16. This is truly a Fucking Amazing post. Capital F A. Really, Holly. Thank you. I think this is one of the greatest things I have ever read.

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  17. Holly, you are fucking amazing, and if I am ever half as cool as you I will be able to die happy.

    So, basically, you maxed out Being A Totally Amazing Human Being and used Being Conventionally Attractive as a dump stat.

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  18. Seriously, though, Holly, you are not fat in my eyes and while you might not fit the archetype of Desired Beauty (which is kind of scary anyway), you are not butt ugly. Sometimes, when I read your post I wonder about that. From what I can tell about your pics you look cute and your body type is not so far away from mine - and I think I'm hot (on good days). So, is it just a self-esteem thing? I think it's only important how you feel about it.

    And it is awesome that you've done so much good.

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  19. I agree with pasthurt, Holly - you are at worst an average looking girl, more on the cute side than not, especially with the curly hair! Most ladies are a little chubby under their clothes and well chosen outfits hide a lot of figure faults. You probably just need to have a stylist advise on what is comfortable and attractive for you. On the other hand, I'd rather have you on my side if I was in trouble, rather than a whole mob of fashionably attired people! Keep on writing! Great post. Thanks! Candice

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  20. That's what I think to myself when I'm feeling jealous of other people.

    This is a fucking awesome post. Who cares about conventional beauty anyway?

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  21. Beautifully said! I agree 100% that what a body can DO is much more important and interesting that what it looks like. This is the message that I got growing up in the boring but practical Midwest, where it seems like everyone I knew or was related to did some farm work at some point, and also from playing sports. Being functional totally beats being decorative AND it's more fun! :)

    Especially for women, who are still evaluated more on looks than on anything else, by everyone from random strangers on the street to employers to potential dating partners, self-image and body acceptance can really be an uphill battle. I'm much happier with myself than I was as a teen or in my early 20s, but it's still a challenge on some days, that's for sure. And though I may look more conventional these days, I'm still the socially awkward introverted dork on the inside and have the same weird smart kid personality...but my mother always said normal children make boring adults anyways ;)

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  22. Holly, I think you need to add "mushy stuff" to your list of tags for this post because this made me shed tears of joy.

    -- CoronerCountess

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  23. The happiest marriage I know is of a fairly handsome man to a woman who is pretty but also a good two Hollys wide. He really and truly thinks virtually all women look pretty, so he was able to choose for much more about who and what she is. She's pickier about looks but she'd just tell you she's blessed.

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  24. As a former model, I know I'm pretty and have photos and paychecks and certificates to prove it, and that still doesn't change anything on those days when I look in the mirror and think "you haven't contributed a damn thing to society." You can be the most beautiful person in the world and still face crushing loneliness and depression when you realise you haven't done anything worthwhile with your life.

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  25. It's too bad that being heroic or an awesome person isn't as visible as artificial beauty. You can't get to known every people in this world so it's just look you categorize them with. And that sucks.

    FINLAND

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  26. I'm kind of interested in transhuman modifications so that one's emotions and state and so on would be reflected in physical appearance.

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  27. Thank you for such fantastic words! This has made my day :)

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