A Private Hell: Women in America

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Crossposted from WWL

Brittany Murphy. Another victim of America’s obsession with the Barbie syndrome? Photobucket

I get it, you know. I’m an American woman. Lets face it, having a man sexually attracted to you feels good. Being invisible, undesired, or the object of repulsion hurts. We tell ourselves and each other that looks don’t matter, the person inside does. But we hear the opposite all around us. “My girlfriend, wife, that chick, that actress, etc etc etc is so HOT!” And what aspect are they referring to? Their minds? Naw. We know without even glancing up. Blue eyes they could stare into forever. Thin muscular frames. Big tits. Round apple asses. High cheekbones. Blond smooth hair. (although an occasional brunette makes the cut, as long as there are lighter highlights in it, and the rest fits the cookie cutter mold)

We learn to hate ourselves young. God how I loathed my brown eyes when I was a teen. I wanted blue contacts though my vision was perfect. The slightly too hooded lids, telltale signs of my slavic descent. My nose, always too big, with a droop at the end that is just shy of a hook. My nondescript mouth, no sensual curves to that upper lip, that no lipstick can create. No little girl breathy voice, no soprano. Alto, tenor when needed in choir. And the hair. Always the hair. The frizz, the curl, the messy nest of it. White-Blond in the summer, and light brown in the winter; and my Mom would NEVER consider letting me color it so it didn’t LOOK like I colored it and quit. In winter, I had to endure the two-tone of being out of the sun. Hear, “What is up with her hair?” from the perfect little cheerleaders whose Mothers did take them to salons for their unnatural colors.

The worst? My body. I could not get skinny no matter what I did.

My body, which was eternally open season for ridicule by my siblings. My body, which my permanently stick thin, chocolate stuffing sister could laugh at while I lived on dry toast, lettuce and worked out a gym daily.

I could arm wrestle my brother, 6 years my senior and a track star, and win. I had a horse, and threw around bales of hay, and 100lbs sacks of grain like they were loaves of bread. I could swing up from the ground onto a 17 hand horse bareback without a leg up.

I was strong. I was healthy. I had great legs. But my frame is large, my ass wide and flat, my waist never narrowed. I could never be the thin wisp of a girl that made men swoon. I could never be this, will never be this:



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It only got worse in my 20’s, after slipping a disc and spending time paralyzed in one leg.

I recovered, but sit ups and crunches were verboten. I know, I tested it despite the Doctor’s warnings, in all my vanity… and ended up on my back in excruciating pain, unable to walk. More than once. Stupidity. My stomach would never again be flat. Never. Later, I added the having-of-a-baby to that. Fatter and uglier. Oh boy!

Oh, back then, once to walk into a bar and have half the attention my sister or my better endowed friends could get with their luckier throw of the genetic dice. Worse yet, it seemed to me at the time that half of these sexually desirable women didn’t even like sex. They just liked attention. They would privately bad mouth men who adored them, and scoff about the many tricks they used straight-faced to get out of having sex with their loved ones. I thought it a waste, to be given these perfect-creature bodies and not to be able to enjoy them fully. Damn. If I looked like that, and could keep a lover’s attention, I would never get out of bed. Orgasms rock.

The smallest I got was a tight size seven. Unhealthy weight loss, coke and speed. I looked like Aushwitz. My big bones were sticking out everywhere. I looked awful. It wasn’t worth it. That only lasted a month or two before I decided it wasn’t for me.

Your 20’s pass, hell, my 30’s have long passed as well. You get comfortable in your own skin. You no longer judge your life or yourself by your appearance. Or you kid yourself you don’t.

You get used to being invisible in that way to men. You realize that you are legion. 99% of the women in the world are also plain, or even ugly by the standard.

A friend of mine lamented on Twitter the other day about his gorgeous daughter (I think she’s 4) already wishing she had straight hair. The stories lately about non-anglo women and the pressure to chemical treat and straighten their hair is just sickening. Legions, I say again, of women doing unnatural things to their natural beauty to conform to a standard set by the few.

Blond and straight is valuable. Epic poems are written to the flaxen beauties.

Black, nappy, brown, frizzy are not. Even the adjectives we use to describe them are degrading. Lets not even mention what happens when the grey starts. Yeah, I color the grey out too, now.

How fucked up is that?

Yet, I flat-iron my hair sometimes. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel prettier. I like the texture, the silkiness of it when I run my fingers through it. It has a feel to it the wild and curly does not.

But it really doesn’t help. My face, never the anatomy of perfect proportion, is now growing old. The “someday I’ll look more like that, more like any of the collections of better looking hers” fantasy has come and gone. The mirror belies gravity’s endless work, the wrinkles and lines belie the years, the bags under my eyes belie the weight of living. Its only downhill from here. Plain, ugly, and now old. How most women feel. Apparently even some of those of perfect proportions.

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Plastic surgeons make a lucrative life off making us fit the mold.

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I remember when my son’s babysitter was 16, and all she wanted in the world was a butt-job. Seriously. A gorgeous young woman hating herself because her ass wasn’t perfectly round enough.

She’s 21 now.

We had a long discussion the other night, that started with her observations about some “fat skanks” dancing at the bar. Then her opining that while a few bigger women could be pretty anyway, that they had no business wearing certain clothes. That these chicks in particular were ugly and fat. She was offended that some guys were talking to them. I totally cringed when she said what she really meant, “Why do black guys always like fat chicks?” She was jealous, it seemed. After all, she is a skinny, hard bodied, flat haired blond and figured they should be drooling over her and her similar friends.

Jesus Fucking Christ, girlie girl. Get a grip.

I went for the around play and talked to her about societal differences, and explained that the “skinny as pretty” phenomenon is fairly new to western European and American standards.

Skinny used to mean the great unwashed, the poor, those without enough to eat. Standards of beauty in places like Hawaii and Africa are still more prone to enjoy round, curvy, even (gasp!) fat people as standards of beauty. But fat used to mean affluent, able to provide, healthy, good.

In some alien role reversal, due to the poor only being able to afford high-fat, carb-rich foods, fat is now low-class. Only the rich can afford the fresh, low cal healthy food, only the affluent can afford gyms and spas. Even in the last 40-50 years we went from Monroe to Twiggy as a standard of beauty.

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Like tanned used to be the signal of the idle rich, now pallid is much the same. Things change.

I tried to explain there is no beauty that exists outside of pre-determined standards set by a society. I tried to explain that there is no such thing as one true model of it. I tried to explain how wrong it is to let weight be the only thing it is still ok to insult. I tried to explain how evil it is to make fun of, maltreat and have prejudice against humans who are not skinny.

But she and I both live in the real world.

We know what men think is hot. We know what they fantasize about.

I know its not what I am.

Deep down, she thinks its not what she is either. (though much closer to that standard than I ever was) Even a 4 year old girl is already looking in the mirror and judging herself as undesirable.

And another truly beautiful woman has died of a heart attack, probably related to starving herself for that standard.

If you are strong of heart, look at what the standard has wrought, look at real anorexia.

http://www.2medusa.com/2008/07…

I get it.

Its amazing to feel wanted. Its so amazing to see that look of desire on a man’s face, know he wants you. Its heaven to know any man just thinks of you that way at all.

Its hard to live in the world when you know that will never happen again. Its hard to know you have never really been attractive in that raw way some have naturally, no matter what you do to yourself. Its hard to look at all the pretty perfect women and not hate yourself, not be jealous and feel like you’ve somehow failed.

My sisters know. All women know it, and hate it and can do nothing about it. We want to be hot. We can’t help it.

Its hard being a woman.

Its hell being an American Woman.

 

49 comments

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    • Diane G on December 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm
      Author

    Laddy-dottie, all ass and no body!

    Crisco: Fat in the can!

    Where’s the harpoon?

    Why can’t you look like your sister?

    Mutliply me by women everywhere…. our bodies are open game to criticism.

    And even when not that overt, we get to hear all the men drool over who they think IS HOT:

    Barbie Dolls and Porno Queens.

    Poor Brittany. Poor all of us.

  1. that they need to be tall according to yesterdays NYT, and they are going to all sorts of crazy lengths/snake oil stuff to have taller kids. The shortest are made fun of, and don’t ‘advance’ in life.

    Apparently, in the last 30 years, the average male height there has gone up by 3.5 inches (to 5’8″) , but the average female has gone up by only 2 ” (60% less).  

    The times claims this is because of ‘better diet’, but I suspect that the male / female dichotomy may instead be proof that women there are more likely to mate with a tall male, then a short one.  

  2. It was an excellent youtube, an entire presentation about how lamestream media markets women as pieces of meat and how all of it is a societal detriment.  You know even saying that sounds vulgar to me but truth is truth.

    And most of this “happened” in a single TV generation.  

    • Diane G on December 23, 2009 at 8:39 pm
      Author

    This generated a lot of discussion at Pam’s House Blend….

    I want to mention that anorexia is now becoming epidemic in you gay males too.

    What a sick society we live in, where we all hate our own bodies.

    Sighhhh

    • Inky99 on December 23, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    and she was a 5’10” blond with great legs and blue eyes.

    Back in the 70’s when being blond was the shit.

    She never had anorexia thank god but she did fall prey to the whole samsara of not being what she wanted.  

    It’s messed up.  I’ve got a 14 year stepdaughter who’s now in the make-up buying stage.  Fortunately she’s extremely confident thus far and hasn’t fallen prey to this stuff hardly at all.   But ever since she saw her first fashion magazine (women should quit buying those damn things!) we were all over her, explaining to her about samsara, how the marketing worked, how the media would constantly try to make her think she wasn’t good enough no matter WHAT her attributes were.

    What I find sickening now is the obsession with plastic surgery, and it’s promotion on mainstream television.   It’s sick sick sick.  

    Did anyone of our generation ever think that Bruce Jenner would be living in some Hollywood hell hole with a bunch of superficial rich women, and would be cutting himself up with PLASTIC SURGERY?  

    Bruce Jenner!

    Our society is going down the drain so fast it’s ……. heck, I don’t even have words for it.  Astounding?   I use that too much.  But it is, it’s astounding.

    • Inky99 on December 23, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    that the drugs found in Brittney Murphy’s home were a perfect shopping list for a bipolar person.

    We really don’t know what was going on yet.  Obviously anorexia is high on the list of suspects, but we don’t know for certain what was up with her.   Obviously she had major major health problems.   And bipolar people can certainly obsess, like nobody I’ve ever seen.

    • banger on December 23, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    of something deeper. It is a result of making a religion out of narcissism. This fuels an intense anxiety about being “good enough” so that society sends you the right signals that make you feel good about you.

    Confidence to be in the world has to come from within based on the unique gifts we each possess. We are way too skittish about our worth. Why? Look around you. The system thrives to the degree you depend on it for identity. The system, has a life and goal of its own and for that you and me are food.

  3. reached the point where no ‘natural’ human can withstand the ‘unnatural’ standards set out there.

    we all want to jump out of our bodies now as essentially every body has been defined as ugly in some respect.

    sometimes i almost feel comfortable, but never really.

    i was pretty lucky as things go, but had the same issues with my family and my body.

    every time my mother sewed for me was an opportunity to tell me what was wrong with my proportions.

    and the irony is that men really, really liked me most of the time.  i was only battling 15 pounds most of the time.  now that i am older and have been very ill, it is another story entirely.

    • Xanthe on December 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    now.  Since 50 on (good genes in my family) I’m not noticed much – and it’s actually not bad.  I had a good run.  But I remember complaining about myself and when I look at photos, I’m like;  Hey, I was good looking.  Such a waste of energy.  I could have had a doctorate in comparative lit for the energy I put into trying to please men.  

    Ladies – as you age here is another annoyance.  Men at a certain age get Viagra (it’s a given if they have the money).  As far as I know, there’s nothing for women, or if there is – no one mentions it much – so there is a period where a woman is betwixt and between.  But it passes – thank the Lord.  I’m enjoying my seventies – hope I stay healthy.  Maybe I’ll get that doctorate! Merry Christmas.  

    Nice diary, Diane – you should post at Shakespeare’s Sister.  You’re a fabulous babe.  Don’t forget it!

  4. And I look just like her. Except for the auburn hair and the additional 2 decades of life.

    Reading her biography gave me a lot of perspective on how important looks are in the grand scheme of things. What is truly a pity is that these opinions of others were important to HER at the time… which is in no small part why she died young.

    If you want the seventh circle of American hell, go to Texas and try being a woman there. There are more military divorces in Texas than anywhere else – because it’s where the laws favor the men. Women lose custody, support, everything in the average military Texas divorce.

    Beauty and ugliness of the soul shows up in what you do, not always what you say or what you look like. We are our deeds.

    One of my favorite books which examines the subject of how women are treated in a postapocalyptic future is “The Gate To Women’s Country” by Sheri S. Tepper. A lot of her work deals with feminism in a critically positive way (other good ones are “The Fresco” and “The Companions”) but “The Gate To Women’s Country” is a classic and an absolute must-read.

  5. When women are still socialized into wanting to be objectified.  Then pathriarchy is still the problem.  

    If you wish to learn a lot more about the issue.  A recent experiment was taken on by a group of people on a subforum of a comedy forum to educate people on feminism.  It is at http://forums.somethingawful.c… .  It is very long however and if you can cut through the crap (80% of it being terrible) you can learn a lot about the subject.

    It was a very interesting topic that I wish I was a part of before it closed.  I learned a lot from the educated posters.  After awhile though people just started repeating debunked opinions and tempers flared.  So I suggest that people not read the whole thread.

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