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Monday, June 2, 2014

Pretty



I don't always post links here to the work I write elsewhere, but in my fortnightly column piece this past Friday I wrote about something that was surprisingly tough to write about.  My face, actually (read it here).  Well, my self-image as a whole.  I'm proud of it as a piece, in part because sharing that stuff "aloud" isn't the most comfortable thing ever.  It's hard to bare one's insecurities.  It's one thing to do it on a tiny blog like this, and quite another when it's sharing on a local news website with a bit of a wider reach.  I pitched the idea, but then had to do a lot of thinking about what I really wanted to share.

A quote from said article to sum it up:

I’m deeply self-conscious about my appearance, to the point where when I put together a bio page for my blog, my first inclination was to write about how I’m kind of boyish and wonky-looking. My non-conventionally-pretty-appearance was the first thing I thought of when pondering the essence of who I am. Wonky. Boyish. Awkward. Plain. These are the words that rise to the surface. Tiny knives that I throw at myself.
I want to change for my daughter. If I’m always throwing those knives at myself, and there’s this little person who shares those traits and who’s privy to those remarks, then the logical conclusion she might make would be that she, too, should sharpen her blades.
Of course, I can just do my thing, embrace my non-conventional face, and get on with life.  And possibly fix the fluoride stains that plague me with insecurity and shame.  (I'm all up for suggestions about how to fix these stains naturally, btw.  As in, with less money.)  But it's hard.  It's very, very hard to change the inner monologue, to keep those words behind my teeth.  I'm hoping it gets easier over time.  I don't hate the way I look.  There are days when I think I look pretty cute (usually after I get a much-needed haircut and I wonder why I waited that long).  But there are other times when I just feel so very, very rotten, and I let it bleed out into everything.  Suddenly, no matter how many text logs I have from my husband full of "you're cuuuuuute" messages, I'm just BLAH and not good enough.  I need to stop seeing myself that way.  I need to stop seeing myself as less-than simply because my facial structure is more a-typical (in my eyes).

Tess posted a link to this article ("When Your Mother Says She's Fat") in the comments of my piece, and I found it touching and beautiful and perfect.  Because these things are so, so familial and entrenched.  And I want to be mindful of that, going forward.

The words we say, even just about ourselves, matter.  It shouldn't be "even" or "just" about ourselves, anyway.  The words we say about ourselves matter, because we are important, just like the people who hear us are important, too.

7 comments:

  1. This is great. Also "beauty privilege (yes, that’s a thing)" I had never heard about this, but of course it is. Of course. I too have always been on the other side of that privilege. It is still something I struggle with daily, even though I want to be above it all. I'm not.

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    1. Yeah. I want so badly to just not care, but the fact is, I DO. And...I think that's reasonable, considering that's what we're told to do: care! It's hard out there.

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  2. Fluoride stains? That sucks. I had them very severely on all my front teeth. I had them capped at great pain and expense. Unfortunately, I don't know of any inexpensive way to deal with severe staining cheaply. Maybe if you the staining you have is more minor, there might be other options. I will say that I think the money and pain was worth it for me, but I had the type of staining that resulted in children asking me on a fairly regular basis, "Why are your teeth brown?" I'm kind of mad at my mom for ODing me on fluoride as a child.

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    1. They are the wooooorst. My dentist suggested veneers/capping, and that was all he could tell me (though I was glad I could stop wasting money on fruitless whitestrips). My staining isn't that bad, but it's on my two front teeth in kind of a patch, so it's noticeable against the whiter parts of said teeth. I don't know how I got them -- water supply, too much fluoride due to orthodontist visits once a month for 7 years, the kind of toothpaste my parents bought us...maybe a combination of all three. :( *fist bump of anguish*

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  3. So important! It wasn't until after I had my daughter and noticed that certain features of my body suddenly looked exactly like my mother's that I realized I'd never heard my mother complain or say anything negative about her appearance. I was like her. And it was fine for her, so it would be fine for me. I also realized there was a really good chance that my daughter would share those traits someday and...I actually kind of thought that was awesome. Here we were, in a line of women, passing things on. And I want that to continue to be an awesome thing, not something to mourn over. I definitely don't want my daughter to ever see something in herself that she shares with me and remember that I once - even once! - said it was a terrible thing.

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