Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I'm not happy with myself. I haven't been for a long time. Not since the summer G and I got together. Before we "hooked it up" I had decided I was fed up with boys. That I was tired of trying to attract them. That I was tired of trying to emulate other women hoping to find out what secret ingredient they contained in their sweet pollen and that I would just be myself. This was not an easy decision, but it was liberating. And shortly after that G and I fell in love. They say it happens when you least expect it. However, while our love has withstood a great deal of obstacles including freedom did not last long. At the end of the summer all the other girls came back in time for the first semester of my junior year of school.

All of my friends had graduated and moved on so I was stuck with the task of meeting and making new companions. It seemed as though the new breed of students I was left with as options were either smarter, prettier or more driven then me. I remember feeling heavy and sad for the first week of school, especially. At first I thought it was the birth control. Eventually I got used to the feeling. Accepted it as normal to never feel good about myself. I look at pictures of myself then and I think what was I thinking? I was beautiful and strong and thin and smart and determined. Since then I've gained 45 lbs. With each one it is like the burden I picked up back then gets a little bit heavier and I stoop a little lower.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to put that burden down again. To shuck off the need to compare myself with other women. To leave behind the desire to fit into their shoes. To get my nails done like Annie or my hair done like Sheila. Or to smell delicious like Kathy. Or to fit into size 4 workout pants like Tammy. But fear keeps me holding clutching the millstone around my neck. 'Cause if I dropped I might really let myself go and I can't even bare to imagine the result. Never mind that I actually lost weight and got the man of my dreams the last time I put that burden down. Never mind that stereotypes are archaic and ridiculous.

While they shouldn't matter. While they're unrealistic. Stereotypes are powerful. According to Andrea Johnston in Girls Speak Out, "Here is what can happen: Most girls silence themselves between the ages of nine and sixteen; that is, they give up a part of who they are because they think it's necessary to do so to survive. They begin to act like a stereotype, a false idea of what it means to be female. Girls play the more feminine role that is based on the mistaken belief that females are weaker than males. There is a lot of pressure on girls to fit this stereotype rather than fight for their unique differences. For example, girls want to be thin, even anorexic or bulimic, because girls of different sizes and shapes are not as easily accepted. Carol Gilligan, one of the first researchers to study girls, describes the change in many girls as losing their different and unique voices. Instead of trusting themselves, girls may become uncertain and lose self-confidence." I know this has happened to me. More than once in my life. What has it held be back from becoming or doing? Who would I be if I were uninhibited? Is being different that bad?

However, there is hope. I'm rooting for the Dove Real Campaign for Beauty and when I make enough money or manage my money well enough to give to charity they're the first on my list. I hope desperately that their concept will work and that sooner rather than later women like me and little girls who come after us can let go of our albatross and get on with our lives. Save our energy for something really worthwhile.


Terra said...

Amen, sister! I think you're beautiful, if that helps. :D The really important thing, though is for *you* to think you're beautiful. The other day, the bf and I were having a similar discussion and I was saying that I felt fat and he said, "I tell you you're pretty all the time!" Which is true-he does. Then he said, "It doesn't help, does it?"

Not that I wouldn't want him to tell me I'm pretty, but until I can believe him when he says it, it really doesn't help.

brataloid said...