Monday, November 21, 2011

Ugly Girl redux.

I know I know my darlings.

I'm doing nanowrimo again and it has been thieving my attention.

So after my previous entry I got a what I can only describe as extremely butthurt note about how not ugly I am.

Clearly this person missed the point.

Let me break it down to you.

Let's put fat aside for just a moment.

Western beauty is not inclusive of people who look like me on even a basic level. In the world of Western Beauty often the most I can hope for is "exotic" or my least favorite "interesting".

Now when it comes to base physical features yes I am privileged in that I have features that can be construed as "pretty". I have large eyes, round lips. I have large breasts. Those things not withstanding the rest of me does not support the Western Ideal of pretty.

Now that we've settled that I want to talk about the ways I just don't engage with a single beauty standard.

Up until my mid-20's I fully believed that I had to make myself fit the mold of Western Beauty like the Black women held up as beautiful.

I spent years of my life trying to starve, over exercise, diet and battle my body into a shape that is seen as acceptable in America. I remember being 18 and doing literally thousands of crunches of various kinds because everything in the world told me I -could- achieve a "feminine" flat stomach, because according to every magazine everywhere that is how a woman shit a child needed to be.

I say child because even the tween mags and articles all told me how wrong my body was and just how much boys and others wouldn't ever find me attractive. THere was always that shaming language, the subtle and not so subtle hints that I was just being lazy if I couldn't do it.

Let me tells you internets, I did the Janet Jackson Anytime Anyplace ab workout as I'd seen it in some interview with her. I did it religiously from about when that album dropped and she was doing a lot of publicity and looking sexy until I was about 22 years old and hurt my back.

My abs were strong. But my stomach was not flat.

It didn't matter how I dieted, what I didn't eat, how many meals I skipped nor how much exercise I did my stomach has never ever been flat.

Similarly at my thinnest (about 110 pounds) my thighs touched. I had "love handles", I had the fold of flesh where my natural waist is. My stomach jiggled.

I spent a long time feeling like the biggest failure who ever failed because I just could not do it right. I could not force my body to be good or great or even acceptable.

And then, I started really thinking hard about it.

When it comes to women I have always had a preference for fat girls. Around 19-20 I found some books that questioned this fantasy "ideal" body idea. I found books that questioned the inherent ableism, racism and sizism in this view of beauty.

I started teaching myself to view myself through the same lens I looked at other people.

Even when I have been the most self critical and full of the most self loathing, the things I hated in my own body were always things I loved on other bodies. Jiggly bellies, stretch marks and other things considered "ugly" or unacceptable within the framework of Western Beauty.

I remember looking at myself and starting to understand as I've said before that I did not have to aspire to the Western Beauty Ideal.

I realized that I didn't have to try and contour my nose with make up to make it look less recognizably Black, that I didn't have to try and lighten my skin or that I didn't have to straighten my hair or wear extensions to make my hair more European looking.

Once I really started to understand all of things I did not have to give a fuck about, I started to understand that I could still wear my hair straight or wear make up because I liked it.

When I finally started to disconnect my own self image from Western Beauty ideals, I'm talking I had to pull the plug. Granted I went through a phase where I viewed any beautification of the self as stupid and a betrayal to my blossoming ideals-I got through that clearly-, I really started to learn to love myself.

I learned to love my ugly.

I learned that I am in control of my engagement with ideas about femininity, gender presentation, beauty and the Western Beauty Ideals.

If you take nothing else away from this take this. The way to self love is paved with huge steaming piles of shit, potholes, booby traps and bullshit. There is no yellow brick road. There is no skipping your way to loving yourself.

Sometimes you have to fall into the hole of badness, the self loathing and self recriminations before you can get to the self loving.

Sometimes you have to just get fed up. You have to give up. You have to fight for your own survival and for your own sanity.

Sometimes you just have to look at something and say fuck you, fuck that and fuck everything else.

Sometimes you have to go through days when you hate every fashion magazine with a burning passion.

The road to owning your own ugliness is not easy. It hurts. It will make you cry. It might make you think that no one will ever love you ever (yes, I am speaking from deep experience) and you may want to just give up and say well fuck it I'm ugly.

I don't think you have to do that.

I am giving you permission if you need it. Some folks do need to hear someone tell them hey it's okay.

Don't want to wear make up? That's okay. Don't want to whiten your teeth, shave your legs, aspire to White Lady beauty? That's fine.

Accept that you don't.

In acceptance I have found the freedom to present myself any way I please. I found the courage to wear things that people think I shouldn't. To make myself feel good and pretty and fine when every thing in society tells me that I don't deserve it for one reason or another.

And I'm happier for it.

I'm not saying that I always feel like the finest piece of ass on Earth. Sometimes I feel like the grossest gross person who ever grossed out an entire nation. That happens. It's okay. That's normal.

The key here is learning to ride out the rough times and rock the shit out of the good ones.

Now if y'all will excuse me I have writing to do.

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