Fat and Ugly

The most disturbing thing, to me, about the worst of the Pith commenters is not what they say, which I am pretty much weened off of reading. It’s when people who like me read something and contact me, alarmed by what they’re reading. I’m never quite sure what to say to them. I really, genuinely appreciate their concern. I also genuinely feel sure that anything they do is as effective as spitting into the wind and could lead to needless trouble for them.

But I did laugh at this idea that I’m supposed to be insulted or hurt at being called fat and ugly. Yes, folks, I am. Been fat and ugly my whole life. Even when I wasn’t objectively fat or objectively ugly, there was always some asshole who was happy to tell me that I was fat and ugly. If fat and ugly is supposed to keep you out of the public square, I would have had to stay in my house and never leave starting about five.

I guess it’s supposed to be different, now that I’m grown, and I am actually fat and ugly. Except that now I’m fat and ugly and old, which means that I’ve been around long enough that I know fat and ugly is bullshit, a standard that has no meaning, except that the person trying to hold me to it hates me.

And I’m not sure at all why I’m supposed to care that someone I don’t know hates me.

13 thoughts on “Fat and Ugly

  1. I had a friend when I lived in NYC, a quite beautiful woman. She was smart and interesting and interested in other people and many good things, but also very good-looking. We went to a show one time, and the guy sang a song along the lines of “you’re not beautiful and I’m not handsome and neither one of us is rich, but let’s get together anyway.” Which was a pretty decent song, as sung, and seemed kind of sweet. But my friend was livid. She said, “he’s insulting that woman, saying she’s ugly.” She actually couldn’t get that the singer was saying that he and the woman in the song were both real people, not ideal characters. Because her reality was that everyone knew she was beautiful. So, I dunno, if being perceived as not-beautiful or even as ugly is a burden in one way, being perceived as beautiful warps your sense of reality. Basically, this culture is ready to mess people up about their looks no matter what the looks are.

  2. Of course, this says volumes about the commenters and nothing at all about you. They must have such ugly inner lives, to judge by what they say.

  3. Yeah, I know. I mean, I tell myself all that stuff. But I still end up just being worn down by this reality–that there’s a level of creepiness that you just have to accept is going to be there if you’re a woman in the world.

    I don’t feel strong or insightful in the face of that, I guess is what I’m saying. I mostly feel confused.

  4. Because you, as an intelligent, mature individual (most of the time, like most of us, hee), have worked hard to evolve beyond yelling “OH YEAH WELL … UH … YOU … YOUR MOMMA WEARS ARMY BOOTS” on the playground when somebody looks at you cross-eyed or says “I don’t like the Osmonds as much as I do the Jackson Five.”

    (showing my age there)

    Intelligent, mature individuals see or hear something they disagree with and think to themselves, “Self, that is not what I believe. I need to see why this is different from what is in my head and maybe learn from it.” The Pith Commenters’ Primary-School Playground has a knee-jerk reaction and shrieks hateful things because they’re not intelligent enough, insightful enough nor evolved enough to consider that others have opinions different from theirs. Whenever their worldview is threatened, they lash out. And it seems that everything threatens their worldview.

    My sibling has long had a tendency to say “Do not ever argue with me. I am not ever wrong” whenever anyone says something she doesn’t like. She’s essentially a teenaged version of the Pith commenters — even more arrogant and narrow in her worldview.

    Keep on, ma’am.

  5. I was asleep today. Physically. I just saw this now and you know what? Between this and that thrice-damned Dove Police Artist fucking thing, I am just about over this world. Because “beauty” is seen as this single thing, this one line in the sand that you tentatively approach or blessedly vault over depending on genetics and the expense you’re willing to undergo to pursue it. “You’re more beautiful than you think” still depends on how closely you look like what some people think beauty is. Those some people being thin white North Americans. My fat ass has guys from India sending me mash notes all the time.

    You are not ugly. Ugly is from the heart and your heart that nurtures family, friends, animals and plants is a damn sight far from ugly. Not even in the same hemisphere.

    We’re both fat and I don’t see that as any sort of negative in the interior space. It may not be the social ideal of this time, but it’s not hurting anyone and I’m comfortable who I am. If I weren’t fat it’d be something else society would use to pull me down. Is my hair the right colour? Are my teeth white enough? My legs smooth enough? Just really, I have more interesting and compelling things to do than throw my life and money away making sure I meet the arbitrary standards of strangers.

    As for the Pith commenters….I’m very glad you’ve gotten to write for Pith and the Scene and I think it comes close to acknowledging your power and talent as a writer. But the toxic hell you take from those commenters is infuriating and keeps me from reading a lot of your stuff. And I don’t think you should have to consider that as price for admission to do the job you were born to do. It pisses me off.

    Sorry for the longwinded blather. I’m just over this shit so hard.

  6. Thanks, guys. It’s not that I think I’m hideously objectively ugly and that people are vomiting after I walk by. I’m actually quite aware that I’m pleasant to look at, especially when my face is in motion, and that people enjoy it.

    I’m just trying to get at a truth about how our society works. Which is that there’s a standard of “beauty” I don’t meet. And, now that I’m almost forty and fat, I’m never going to meet it, if I did, for some reason, find it a goal worth working toward. it doesn’t really hurt my feelings to be called ugly by angry strangers any more than it does to be called fat.

    I think by the standards of our society, both of those things are probably true. But so what? I look like my grandmas. And I’m thankful for that. “Fat” and “ugly” are words that, when hurled at women, are supposed to be evidence of our worthlessness. My point is that I reject that I am worthless. All my being “fat” or “ugly” actually signifies is that I come from people who look like this. So what? I love my grandmothers. They are/were awesome and anyone who met them agrees. I like that, when i walk into a family event, I look like my family.

    I think that, where I and some of the Pith commenters are at loggerheads is that they want their judgment of me to be worth more than my own judgment of me. So we have these constant attempts at displaying dominance by either failed demonstrations of superiority to me or failed demands that everyone recognize my inferiority to them.

    But they can’t force me to read their comments, let alone acquiesce to their metaphoric humping of my leg. So, what’s left is to try to be disturbing enough that, when people who like me and who don’t regularly read the comments stumble across it, i hear about it that way.

    But, again, the problem with that kind of display of dominance is that it’s just not. Creepy, yes. A sign of your power over me? No.

  7. I wish there was a little more moderation at Pith, because some of that crap should be deleted. It’s so childish and contributes nothing but meanness to the discussion.

  8. I remember years ago you writing about the frith of your online community here. I remember that and it has always stuck with me. I also like So. Beale’s policy about commenting “Don’t come in my house and piss on my rug.”

    I don’t read the comments over there or at a ton of newspapers anymore pretty much anywhere because I just can’t stand mean and cruel. I too wish there was a bit more moderation at Pith. I think the Memphis Flyer is pretty good at shutting a lot of the crazy down over there.

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