I was having a lovely day. Well, at least a lovely morning. The weather has been chilly of late but in all honesty, I do love the cold, gloomy weather. I find it much easier to keep warm than to try cool down on a hot day. I am one of those people who very rarely feel cold. So even on a cold day, I’ll be up and about in my usual clothing while everyone else is all bundled up trying to preserve whatever heat they have and they keep wondering how comes I’m not cold! Hot weather is very uncomfortable for me. I feel like a sweat messiah with the amount of sweating that goes on! I shall not even bother getting into the amount of deo I use in the hot weather or how many times I need to shower in a day just to be comfortable. Chilly weather, yay! So why are we discussing weather anyway? Because I noticed a trend… whenever I’m doing my thing, walking around without a sweater or a jacket, guys wonder, some of them quite loudly, to my face, how comes I’m able to do that. The one thing I have always noted to be blamed, or credited, for my resistance to cold is my size. “Oh, you’re so lucky you are big so you don’t feel cold. Man, I need to put on weight too so that I can be like you…” I find that people are rather insensitive when it comes to weight issues. Girl, you need to hit the gym, you should diet, you should do this, or do that. Or, Girl, you need to eat a burger or something, hold on tight, the wind might just blow you away… I get a lot of the former. And for the longest time, I used to be incredibly hurt by such comments. I used to hate going out clubbing or being in the general public with my skinny friends. They feel the need to give diet advice. People you randomly meet feel the need to do the same. People who don’t even know who you are. Making assumptions. Making condescending comments like they know who you are what your life is all about or your struggles. I’d feel inadequate when we’d be in a club partying away and my friends would get picked up by dudes one by one and suddenly I’m there all alone, staring at a drink that I don’t even like, hanging out in a club virtually by myself, feeling more lonely than I’d feel if I was curled up in bed with a nice Sandra Brown novel… So I slowly changed. Became a loner, learnt to enjoy my own company, learnt to entertain myself, I slowly found things that I loved that didn’t require company to accomplish… I transformed my initially jolly, bubbly, happy self into introvert who avoids crowds at all costs and finds company (unless we’re friends) quite tedious. I tried just about everything, some things even dangerous, except perhaps surgery, to change my size but nothing worked so far. It really is cruel to be in a perpetual state of hunger yet people assume that the reason you are the size you are is because you gobble everything edible in your sight. And somehow this was still not enough. In this day and age where the whole world is in your house with you, in your bedroom, your bathroom , courtesy of social networks, I found that I was just avoiding the problem, not dealing with the root of the problem. Which was that I was not secure with myself. I barely had a spoonful of self-esteem left in me… And I don’t know exactly where or when or even how it happened but I woke up one day and I just said enough is enough. I was tired of letting other people’s opinion of me dictate my opinion of myself. And since then I have never looked back.
Now, when guys say I’m lucky I am fat and therefore cannot feel the cold, I just smile and nod in agreement. Now, I can make jokes about it too, tell them it’s difficult for me to feel cold because I’m well padded. I have grown and I have matured. I have learnt to be comfortable in my own skin. I learnt to keep those disparaging voices out. And for the first time in my life, I learnt what a wonderful thing it is to have self-esteem…. That I can wake in the morning be happy, proceed to have a nice day and not wait for another person to be the source of my contentment and happiness. That I don’t have to do things simply because I want people to like/love me. Seeking approval from other. I have also learnt to deflect. I make fun of myself. I laugh at myself. I judge myself. You’d call it self-deprecating but I simply see it as being in a place where I am comfortable enough in my skin. I joke about my weight. I joke about my big thighs and my big ass because the truth is, there is no one in this world who can judge you more harshly than you judge yourself. And when you have reached a point where you have judged yourself and accepted who you are, there is nothing someone, anyone, out there can tell you that can make you feel bad. There is nothing you can tell me that can worse than the things I have told myself. There is no insult you can hurl at me that’ll hurt worse than the ones I hurled at myself… I learnt that you have got to love yourself because the world out here is cruel and ain’t nobody got time to deal with your bullshit AND their own BS. Not for long anyway… And I also learnt to stick up for myself. You think I’m fat? Yeah, well, you’re bow-legged and you don’t see me going on and on and on about how that somehow makes you less of a human being! (I once actually told someone that to their face. A dude was in shock! The mean streak in me loved it! )
One of my pals forwarded me an article yesterday that made me feel like the author was my alter-ego. Or my best friend. Because she was discussing the very same issue of being comfortable and even (gasp!) happy with yourself. Because you have learnt yourself. You know your shortcoming, you know your strengths, you know you limits and you are okay with yourself like that. And I was so inspired. The original article is here if you may want to read it but I’m going to re-post it. Here goes:
I want to talk about something I will call “uglyism”. It’s a form of discrimination that is rarely spoken of, yet those discriminated against are entirely faultless and it crosses gender, race, age and sexuality. The word “ugly” is, well, ugly. Phonetically I find it rather pleasing. Perhaps I shall work to reclaim it.
I am ugly, and I am proud.
There is a huge difference between being “attractive” (which is very subjective) and being “good-looking” (still subjective, but I think less so).
It makes people very uncomfortable if you describe yourself as being “ugly”. Social mores seem to dictate that they must respond in a Pavlovian way with, “No, you’re beautiful“. And it gets awkward.
The fact is I don’t see people in magazines who look like me. I don’t see people like me playing the romantic lead or having a romantic life. People on TV and in films who are not good-looking are rarely portrayed having sex, enjoying sex, having sex with good-looking people who don’t regret it or having a healthy attitude to sex without hang-ups.
But, you know what? I do have sex. And I have had sex with some really good-looking men. Not because they were doing me a favour. Not because they felt it was a charitable act. Not because they were drunk, or doing it for a bet. But because we fancied each other.
Now, in my 30s, after many years wrestling with feelings of inadequacy, I’ve realised that aesthetic beauty really is only the tip of a very large and attractive iceberg.
Moreover, I am thankful. I love my lumpy body and my funny face. I have also learned to appreciate the benefits of not being aesthetically too pleasing. These include:
1. I know that friends actually want to spend time with me, not just a glamorous accessory.
2. I have a robust and individual personality as I have never been able to rely on what I look like to make friends.
3. I don’t get leered at in the street or groped in pubs.
4. I am not worried about “losing my looks”. The pressure, particularly on women, to grow old without actually ageing is ridiculous. It must be very difficult to have been an exceptionally attractive person, and to have used that to your advantage, and to watch that power fade with every wrinkle.
Still think uglyism isn’t a thing? I could give countless examples. Here’s just one. Recently, a friend tweeted this:
“My reaction when I realise its [sic] Monday is similar to that when the not-so-hot girl would pick me at the school dance.”
Guess what? Being fancied by someone ugly doesn’t affect your attractiveness. Whether you find them attractive or not doesn’t affect the fact of the flattery. Just as if someone from a different race fancies you, it doesn’t affect what race you are. What’s more, personally, I don’t find this friend remotely attractive. What’s worse than an ugly girl fancying you? An ugly girl that doesn’t fancy you. Ha!
If I were “pretty”, I wonder, would I still be a stand-up? Is it easier to laugh at somebody with a funny face? If I were stunning to look at, maybe that would distract from what I’m saying?
Many reviewers describe my act as “self-deprecating”. My comedic persona is, like most comics’, an exaggeration of me. Yes, I refer to myself as being scruffy and world-weary, but these are qualities I love about me. It is only assumed by others to be self-deprecation. “How can she possibly say those things without being self-loathing?” Well, I’m simply not.
For the record, I like being me, as much as anyone likes being themselves. That is, not always, but enough of the time to get by.
The culture of body shaming is deeply rooted in us as human beings and I doubt that it is going to go away any time soon. And I am not just talking about just weight, though of course this is the one thing I am well versed in. I’m talking about the stereotypes… Like the assumption that a woman cannot be pretty AND brainy at the same time. If a pretty woman got anywhere in life, she did because she’s pretty. Of she used the age-old route of parting her legs. We sit down in the comfort of our homes and we judge and judge and judge. Oh, she’s too fat. No, he’s too short. No, he too skinny. No, she’s ugly. Granted, we all have our personal preferences… for example, I prefer to date guys who’re taller than me. There’s something about a guy that’s taller than you… it makes a girl feel petite. And God knows I could use every illusion of me being petite! Lol. But, this does not mean that I hate short guys. Or that I won’t talk to a guy who is short. Or I won’t associate myself with, or be friends with a short guy simply because he is short. Or that I shall make fun of a short guy and probably make worse any esteem issues that he may already have! On the social networks I see all sort of shocking things. People making fun of dark-skinned people, light-skinned people, short people, tall people, fat people , skinny people, people with short hair, people with long hair…. It’s exhausting to try to live up to people’s standards! You just cannot win. They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. (Or beer-holder, depends on who you’re asking! Lol!) And I get that. I just don’t understand this culture of shaming people just because they are not what you are, or because they are not what you believe is the standards of beauty. Dear God, now even NAMES have to be pretty! The other day, I watched online as a group of people attacked a lady because she has what they thought was and UGLY NAME! I just wish we could all get along. Let my personality be the issue… Get to know me first then hate me because I am liar. Or I’m a thief. Or I’m douche-bag…… because when you attack someone just based on their physical attributes, you are a shallow, narrow-minded, waste of human space. Yes, this is a tad harsh, but frankly I have no tolerance for such crap in my life. It would make a wee bit of sense if making fun of a person actually earned you something. Like money. But making fun of someone just so that you can feel better about yourself, that’s utter bullshit and I refuse to be convinced otherwise. And if making fun of a person who you think is somehow less of a human being because they’re not light-skinned, or tall, or short, or whatever else standards you may have applied, actually DOES make you feel better about yourself, then you, my friend, are sick. And you need to be on medication. Now, I’d like to sit here and think that now that I have put up this post and it’s been read, the world is gonna be one big happy family. But that would be akin to burying my head in the sand and leaving my ass sticking out. (And with the size of this ass, I’d probably end up causing an eclipse anyway.) We are all human, and this means that we are all fundamentally flawed. This, however, should not excuse ugly behavior. There IS something known as common human decency. And frankly, the world would be better off with a little more of human decency. And self-esteem. Lots and lots and lots of self-esteem. And love. And frankly, a whole lot of sex too. Protected sex. It’s gotta be protected sex. 😀