I'm reading a great book and I can't put it down: Body Outlaws: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity. It's all about confronting the bullshit female beauty paradigm. It's a collection of writings by different authors, and some of the titles include: "My Brown Face," "Klaus Barbie, and Other Dolls I'd Like To See" (which deems Barbie the most successful piece of Aryan propaganda since the Nazi regime), "Memoirs of a (Sorta) Ex-Shaver," "Breaking the Model," and "Sizing Myself Up: Tales of a Plus-Size Model." Can't you just see why I love it?
The things that pisses me off most about reading works of this nature is because the message of it never sinks in. I have gone through this cycle before. After reading Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed, I walked around ready to say "Fuck you!" to anyone who didn't appreciate the beauty of a large woman. But it didn't last. Momentary flashes of confidence were never a match for other, more potent encounters, such as the time my mother's mother came to visit.
This is a grandmother that I rarely see. We have been in the same room 5-6 times that I can remember. She came over a year or two ago, and as slender Sister and I were standing next to each other, Grandmother said to her, "You are certainly catching up to your sister in height," then smiled at me and said, "but not in weight." Sister shot me a look of horror. I just took it in stride, and refrained from attacking the woman who was, ironically enough, larger than me. She went on to note that Sister has a beautiful figure and takes after her side of the family, while I am "stocky like Daddy."
Yes, it was some time ago and no, I do not cry over it at night, but I think that moments like that create small, invisible scars that you never really get rid of. Stephanie Klein, the blogger who has been called the real-life Carrie from Sex and the City, mentions this in some of her posts. She used to be overweight, and even now, when she looks like a real-life Botticelli's Venus de Milo (if not thinner), she still has baggage from her era of chunkiness. (Check out this particular post, and you'll see what I mean.)
And what does it say about me that whenever I read her blog I think to myself, I would kill for hair like that! But, I digress.
I think this is an appropriate book for me to read at this time, when I am stressing over Boyfriend's impending arrival and the very good possibility that I have gained back the 4.5 pounds I lost since I last saw him. Cerebrally, I know how stupid that is, but who can be cerebral about these matters? I'm also planning to get these eyebrow rebels ripped out, not just for him but so that I can show my face in daylight.
And sometimes I stop and think, what am I doing?
I know that the Traveler is going to comment on this post, because she is the independent, successful woman of the 00's who is also a serious advocate for eyebrow waxing and other beautifying strategies. We have had discussions over this before. But I can't seem to reconcile my feminism with an extreme dissatisfaction with my looks. The two are like oil and water; they cannot peacefully coexist. They have been doing battle for years. (I'm not accusing her of having extreme dissatisfaction with her looks; I know that she does not, and rightly so.)
I think all of those magazines that uphold societal standards of beauty should be burned. We are not airbrushed, and we shouldn't be made to feel that we should appear that way. It's mean and hurtful, and undermines all that we strive for, in my humble opinion. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I will be back to my timid, go-ahead-and-shit-on-me self as soon as I'm done being inspired by this book :)