I have a friend who’s very funny, and she also happens to be really pretty. Like, amazingly pretty. She had a blog, back in the day when you had blogs. Imagine still having a blog now. Heh. Sad.
Anyway, she was hilarious, so she got a bit of a following. And as was the case back in those heady blogging days of the early 2000s, you didn’t put pictures of yourself up much. She would tell long, funny stories with no pictures. This was back when we all actually thought thoughts and read words and didn’t scroll pictures with our mouths open 9 hours a day. We had attention spans and could read words.
(I worry that the internet is the worst thing that ever happened to any of us, even though I wouldn’t know any of you or even have Edsel if it weren’t for the internet. You know how we’re all hating each other’s guts now about politics? It’s because we spent the first portion of our lives peacefully enjoying confirmation of bias. You hated a politician, all your friends hated that politician, or you assumed they all did because you never brought it up. All was right in your world. Then you get the internet, and social media, and you start hearing from people you’d never have talked to otherwise, like the dude you went to elementary school with who never moved out of your hometown and likely uses the N word on the reg. And THAT guy never knew he’d have to hear “BLM” from the person HE went to elementary school with. It’s caused strife would wouldn’t otherwise have had.)
(Back to my funny friend.)
Eventually, she put up a picture of herself, and?
People got mad.
They got MAD at her for being PRETTY. And she’s not even pretty in a way that —
Do you know what I was going to say? I was going to say she’s not even pretty in a way that makes you mad, which by the way just officially made me as awful as the people who got mad at my friend. What I meant was she doesn’t aggressively pursue attractiveness. She doesn’t wear Amy Winehouse-level makeup or slip on a barely-there Betty Rubble dress or anything. Her BONES are pretty. She just is pretty, she doesn’t try to be.
But I sort of loved and was astonished by that reaction from her audience. I guess her hilarity made her so relatable that when it turns out her looks weren’t, people were disappointed. “You never told us you were pretty,” they said to her, as if she’d deceived them.
We’re starting to change how everything else is unequal, not that we don’t have a long way to go. But we’re pointing out injustices and people are very uncomfortable with it and that’s all a good sign that things will shake up and change. The “all lives matter” people are going to be the “long-haired freaky people need not apply” of the 2020s.
However, with all this change going on, women are still supposed to be perfect-looking. Look at all those Time’s Up women. Is that how they spell it or did they squish it into all one word and camel it? If they did I refuse to follow their lead.
But really. They’re all “women’s empowerment,” “women won’t be treated like this,” “women are — oh, and by the way I still starve myself into a size zero.” THAT part is still very much happening. Women are only as valuable as the way they look.
And I do it too. I’m not woke, over here. I think terrible, just terrible, things about women that I would never think about, say, a person of color or a gay person. Lena Dunham, for example. She’s gained a lot of weight. And I’ll see a photo of her and think, Would you just stop being so fucking fat? Like it’s her job to look good for me. And I think that because in a way, it is. And yet Lena Dunham has entertained me often. I watched that whole show of hers, twice, and early in the pandemic she wrote serial fiction for Vogue that I tuned into every day, rapt.
That should be enough. Her talent should be enough. And yet there I am, feeling like she’s failed me because she got fat.
And let’s take the word fat. Years ago, I called myself fat. Me! I called me fat! And women took great umbrage that I’d even utter the word and they flounced off from here, never to return. That’s how powerful it is. To be fat in this society, or for someone to call herself fat when you weigh more is so wrong, so horrible to even conceive of, that you can’t even talk about it without a strong reaction. The general reaction was, If you’re fat, then what am I? Fatter? Why is that the end of the world? Because it is. In our society, it is. We’re all supposed to be attractive or we don’t count.
So I hope that changes. I hope one day we look back at our movies and TV shows and say, “Look how conventional all the women were. They all looked the same, with their large lips and their tiny bodies and their defined jawlines. And hardly any of them were entertaining, which is what movies and TV were supposed to do.” I hope it seems weird one day that everyone had to be pretty, the way it seems weird that we had a white guy play an Asian.
I mean, we got over minstrel shows. Can’t we get over this?
And don’t even get me started on ageism.
Old, fat and here,
P.S. Ironically, I forgot to talk about my ADD.