Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You sho is ugly.

The title is a reference to the Color Purple.

I want to talk more today about ugliness.

Specifically my context for talking about ugliness and my relationship to it.

I do not want to or need to reclaim the word.

What I have done is learn to take it in and accept ideas about being ugly.

I have taken in and accepted that am not, will not ever ever (barring a metric ton of plastic surgery) be beautiful in terms of Western Beauty standards.

As I mentioned in this entry, I just won't.

At one point in my life this broke my heart. I drank the I will never be pretty Koolaid.

Here is the plain fact. 99% of you reading this and 99% of the people you have ever met in your life will be beautiful in terms of Western Beauty ideals. I won't. A lot of you won't.

That is not good, it is not bad, it does not make any of you or me an awful person it is just a fact of actual life.

Not even the so called beautiful people fit those ideals.

Don't believe me?

Have you ever seen the ads or photos of a celebrity then seen a candid picture of them? Especially American actresses. In magazine spreads they are lush and dewy and beautiful. In actual life they are often extremely thin, pale, funny eyebrows splotchy etc just like every one of us.

This is where we need to make a few more things crystal clear.

As we walk around in daily life the concept of beauty is constantly being shoved at us as something to aspire to. We are supposed to want the perfectly flat stomachs, the perfectly even skin, the "It" haircut. We are supposed to look at ourselves and other people and find ourselves sorely lacking.

We are supposed to believe that if we are not "working" on it or outwardly striving to fit this one ideal of beauty we are somehow less than. We are weak, we have no will power, we are slovenly and somehow bad people.

We are supposed to buy into with our money and very souls that we are not "good" if we are not trying to be Thin White and Beautiful.

We watch over the years as beautiful celebrities of color somehow start looking more and more like heavily tanned White celebrities.

We watch over the years as these beautiful people evade age and change.

We are expected to want that.

Note I keep saying expected and supposed to. I say belief and not fact.

That is because what we are not supposed to do is understand that what is beautiful as a concept and as a reality is no one single thing.

That is why I have no need for reclamation when it comes to the idea of ugliness.

In our society we are expected to believe that beauty is not mutable. That there is standard beauty and then "exotic" beauty.

We are taught in America especially that beauty is not just an appearance but that it's everything. We're taught that beautiful people are healthy, wealthy, wise and wonderful.

We are taught that unless we are striving for this Unattainable White Beauty and heterosexual bliss (because if one is beautiful then one must be hterosexual and want to marry and produce beautiful children) we are doing it wrong.

A lot of people knowingly and unknowingly spew this horseshit on the regular.

Our friends and mother's give us friendly "tips" about how we should be trying to look. We can't escape hordes of trolls, facebook pages, and stupid jokes aimed at those of us who are not "hot".

For me when I realized that these things are a.) bullshit and b.) have little to do with how I actually go about my daily life I started the process of freeing myself from the widely proscribed ideals of beauty.

I began to understand that my ugliness, that my face- the face that I have wept over and been ashamed of. The face I thought that had too big of a nose and "too Black" features. The face that is scarred and pitted in places does not make me awful.

The face that I still on occasion have a hard time looking at without seeing the awfulness of it, is not my problem.

My problem is when I start to drink the Koolaid.

When I forget just how retouched every fucking picture of every fucking singer, actress and other beauty icon is.

When I forget that yes the appearance of perfection is interesting for a moment but then what?

Does a pretty picture of any celebrity make me like them more?


Stop drinking the Beauty/Ugly dichotomy Koolaid.

The fact is that while yes being that beautiful must be pretty awesome, it's not required.

You do not have to believe everything you hear.

You do not have to ascribe to the popular ideas about beauty.

You do not have to hate yourself because you are not a supermodel.

Think about it like this.

Let's say you see the most beautiful person ever, I'm talking about walked right out of a perfume ad style perfect and they shit on your foot.

Do you think that person is still awesome?

Or is their beauty just glitter on a turd?

I'm not saying that beautiful people are or aren't assholes. I'm saying that their beauty does not make them awesome or assholes just as anyone else's lack of that kind of beauty makes them an asshole.

You do not have to let the lack of beauty you perceive in yourself be the cause of you being an asshole.

This is an important point.

You can do all the things to make yourself appear to be the beautiful person you think you are supposed to be. Get plastic surgery, get a new nose, lighten your skin do all those things but if you were an asshole or insecure to begin with that won't fix it.

The only way that the Cult of Hotness idea can be put down or gotten over is to think.

What you can do is really take some time to think critically about your own attitudes about beauty and what beauty means. Does beauty imply goodness to you? Is that good for you? What or who do you find beautiful and why do you find them beautiful?

Seriously ask yourself why do you believe all this bullshit?

Do you really honestly, and let me pause here to say that this is fucking hard and you will hurt and cry, believe all the things the magazines and tee vee say?

That is where we start.

So let's do it together okay?

You have homework my darlings.

I want you to think about, process and take in the truth.

This is the truth. Neither you nor I will ever be Western Beauty Ideal beautiful.

Never. Ever.

Think about that and if you can make it, think about the honest truth about what impact that will or won't have on your life or has or hasn't had on your life.

And no, we're not talking woe is me I'm not married/partnered/having sex. We'll get to all that. I'm talking about has not being that kind of beautiful made you poor? Has it shit in your shoes? Etc.

Also, if y'all are into it I will continue these posts. Let me know.

Homo Out.



beatfreak said...

Please continue these posts.

For me these thoughts are what I am starting to embrace. There is nothing that I can do to make up for the sin of being born black and female in a racist and sexist society. So why keep on trying. I can only be me and when I embrace who that person is, I'm a lot happier. I free up energy to be the best me I can be. It's a lot easier than trying to be someone I am not.

Catherine Leary said...

I love it when you write these posts. So yes, please continue writing them.

the crafty squid said...

yes, keep writing...

to me, the opposite of beauty is repetition of the same same same, lack of originality, nothing fresh or different, just an ideal that cannot be reached and so we allow ourselves to be sold to in the hopes that someday we will have it.

ugly can be its own sort of beautiful.

real beauty can be found in almost everyone, particularly in the subtlety of how someone has come to find himself or herself and decided it is "enough." i'd rather look at real people, see the variety of their bodies and to understand that is truly glorious.

Kristie said...

I often find that I'm holding two opposed ideas in my head at once: 1) that I am being told I need to be worried about how I look every minute I walk through the world...which for me becomes "I could try harder than I do," and 2) fuckit...I've got better things to do than meet other people's expectations; I've got expectations of myself I'm more interested in meeting, and if I take half an hour to get gussied up when I don't feel like it, I'll disappoint ME.

That is to say, it is there; it is so deeply ingrained in the culture, and in us by the culture, I don't know if I can ever escape it. But I am aware, and I don't have to give it the keys to my life. I say, "Yeah, I hear you. But you're just going to have to fuck off now, because I'm busy self-actualizing." :)

Kjen said...

Yes! Please continue writing posts like this!
I think I have a lot of work ahead to divest the term beauty of all positive connotations because while I agree with your premise, I couldn't bring myself to embrace 'the ugly' instead I felt more comfortable saying 'expand the ideals of beauty' or 'delegitimize the Western notion of beuty standards.'
But as I get older, I have become disenchanted that this sea change will occur in the mainstream. Now I am more aggressive about finding what I want in alternative forms - web shows, blogs, etc.

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