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Letters to a Young Fat Girl: Lesson the Fourth | Manolo for the Big Girl

Letters to a Young Fat Girl: Lesson the Fourth

Don’t Give a Damn.

Do you know why I love hanging out with cranky old people? I like them because they have mastered the fine art of Not Giving a Damn.

The sooner you can learn to Not Give a Damn the better.

We are constantly bombarded about how we’re supposed to look and act and be and think and live and blah de blah blah blah. Especially since we’re already at fault for being fat and have to make it up to society somehow.

If you don’t have a filter, a little bitchy Giminy Cricket inside your head that says “Hang on, I’m not going to do that.” then you’re sunk. You’re just going to be battered by the waves of pop culture and consumerism until you look like everybody else and have absolutely no personality and you STILL won’t be happy because:

You will never ever be “good enough” in the eyes of popular culture.

Never? Never.

And that’s because people like to be right, and companies like to be rich.  I’ve got my opinions and I share them (for a price.) Companies have their products, and they’ll sell them (for a price.)  But no matter how much any of us insist your world won’t spin the way it ought unless you’ve done this or listened to that, you do not under any circumstances have to Give a Damn.

And I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, but people already dislike me because I’m fat. Now they will hate me.”

No, they won’t. That’s the amazing thing. People will FLOCK to you, because if you Don’t Give a Damn –provided you’re still a decent human being and socially gracious (there are some people who Don’t Give a Damn but also are socially graceless: These people have no friends)– that signals power, and it’s in our gregarious nature to want to have the approval of powerful pack-members. Meanwhile, if you’re a groveling little thing that plays nicey-nice all the time, I have a theory that people will sense your weakness and insincerity and more often than not will look down on you. Which isn’t to say that you can NEVER give a damn — I bend over backwards for people I genuinely like to make happy, but it’s a choice, not a default position.

It’s difficult, especially since women are supposed to be Nice all the time, but Nice only has one place in my vocabulary, and that’s in Italy.* Be good, not nice. And if you’re not? I don’t give a damn.

Gin and Tonics,

Auntie Plumcake

*Before you pedants send me any more emails: this is a joke.

14 Responses to “Letters to a Young Fat Girl: Lesson the Fourth”

  1. Grace October 14, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Great advice, and I hope that both the young and old fat girls can learn to embrace it.

    BTW, didn’t you mean Nice in France, not Italy?

  2. Violet in Twilight October 14, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Golden words Plumcake. “Be Good, Not Nice.” I’d probably make a cross-stitch and frame those words :).

  3. Plumcake October 14, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    @Grace: Thus the joke, the inference being I don’t really know what Nice is at all. Get it?

  4. Madame Suggia October 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Well, Ve-NICE is in Italy. Bwa ha ha ha. Sorry, going off on a tangent there…good advice Plummy, and as always, spot on.

  5. Catrina October 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    You know what? I’m twenty-five (only just!) and I needed this. I’m literally about to print this out so I can carry it around with me.

    I’m shy. I’ve always been shy, and overly “nice.” And it’s done absolutely nothing for me. Good timing with this one :)

  6. Jophiel October 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    “Be good, not nice.”. Perfect.

    Have you ever noticed that “nice girls” can be the cruelest people? “NIce guys”, too. I suspect it has something to do with needing to punish people who don’t follow the rules. Yet another reason not to GIve A Damn ;).

  7. Chiken October 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Great advice! In my experience most people don’t come to this realization until they are well out of high school, but wouldn’t it be great if younger people embraced not giving a damn as well? I certainly hope my daughter learns it much sooner than I did.

  8. SusanC October 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    To be uber-pedantic, Nice was a part of Italy until 1860. It’s still very Italian in food, architecture and attitude. I teach there occasionally and can tell you it much more resembles Portofino than Paris. So even when “wrong” Plumcake is actually more right. :-)

  9. Mallory October 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Hey Ms. Plumcake.

    I’m four days away from being twenty years old, in my sophomore year of college, and SO appreciated this post. One of the hardest things for me to do throughout my school years (and today) was learning the art of simply ‘Not Giving A Damn’. Being overweight for most of my life still affects me deeply and I expect it will for years to come…but I’m so glad to hear what I already know/knew – that it doesn’t matter a lick!
    And more than anything, I get SO TIRED of girls being NICE all the time! You spoke my thoughts perfectly! And all this time, sometimes, I thought it was just me…
    Girls avoid being assertive, saying what they want, saying what they need, and saying what they mean to the point of the ridiculous (especially when we’re young). And yet, we admire those women/girls who exhibit these exact traits.
    Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’ve been really enjoying your blog since I discovered it and look forward to each post.

    @Catrina – This is definitely a print-worthy post!

  10. La Petite Acadienne October 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I agree. Being kind is admirable. Being sweet is lovely. Being “nice”? That tends to come with a distressingly gelatinous spine.

  11. Elle October 15, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Miss Plumcake… thank you. I’m not exactly a ‘young’ girl (31 at the last count) but what you say really rings true for me right now.

    I recently got engaged to a rather awesome boy and am already bowing under the many comments from friends and family on the lines of “you know, if you get married in 12 months you have plenty of time to diet” and “so-and-so lost three dress sizes for her wedding”.

    All the comments are meant well (sigh) but there’s only so many you can take before you start to think gosh, are they right? Am I some kind of freakish, monster bride-to-be? Should I be eating nothing but carrots and water for the next 12 months?

    But fiddlesticks to that! I fully intend to use your words as a bolster to my tarnished self confidence. I may even print this post and stick it on the fridge (next to the ‘ten signs you’re turning into Bridezilla’ article).

    Seriously… thanks.

  12. Emily October 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Yes. Seriously. To paraphrase Dan Savage, you have a right to your own needs, desires, and happiness.

    I would also like to point out that this applies double in the workforce, especially if you’re young, female, and eager to make your way. There is a certain kind of co-worker that can (and will) take advantage of anyone with the right combination of old fashioned work ethic, idealism, and “nice-ness,” and before you know it you’re doing your job plus theirs and can’t muster the courage to do anything about it.

  13. Mel October 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    While visiting one of my father’s sisters a few years ago she poured us each a tall glass of iced tea, took me out to the porch and had a wonderful visit with me. I was at the point in my life where I was moving very far away from home and was quite happy to bundle up any words of wisdom she had to offer and take them with me.

    She told me a little story about one of the girls who worked for her who always told her how nice she was. After about a month or so of “Ms. Low-tee, you are just so nice blah-blah-blah-blah-blah” she told me that she had to sit this girl down and explain to her that she was – in fact – not nice at all. She could be accommodating, generous, thoughtful, gracious, and kind, but she was NEVER nice. Nice is boring. Nice, according to Aunt Low-tee, is for pushovers.

    Be bold, be strong, be audacious, have courage, use kindness as a tool (and if you know how, a weapon when needed).