Self Praise and other Endangered Species

“If you’re pretty, you’re pretty. If you’re not, what’s the harm in believing you are?”

That’s the response I had to Kate from Eat the Damn Cake’s post about not apologizing for liking your looks.

Seems Kate, and many women like her, can’t pay themselves a compliment on their appearance without burying it in a pack of negative qualifiers for fear of appearing arrogant, because apparently owning a reflective surface and at least one functional eye is arrogant now.

Allow me a world-weary sigh.

People are always going to make fun of you, to dislike you or criticize you or just generally be Not One of Your Fans. Always. We don’t need to help them along.

I remember last year when I visited my grandmother. She rattled off an impressively comprehensive list of my faults, both real and perceived, in chronological order starting shortly after I embedded myself in the womb. The finale was a rather spectacular rendition of What Everybody Really Thinks of You (feat. I’m Telling You For Your Own Good) which was in no way hampered by the fact that aside from an awkward dinner once every three years we don’t actually know any of the same people.

At the end of the litany I surprised both of us by saying “Well, I’m sort of okay with that.”

She was aghast.

But that means I’m not 100% invested in whether every person in the universe thinks I’m perfect. How unladylike!

For a woman, self-acceptance is civil disobedience.

The powers that be (society/media/your chain smoking grandmother) throw us under the bus for fun and profit. We don’t need to make it easier.

I’m not saying burn your bras and grow swaying veldts of body hair (although you can if you want) but maybe do all those beauty routines for our own enjoyment instead of playing some Barbie Dream Shell Game where we have to “minimize flaws” so…so what, exactly? So guys will want to have sex with us?

Is it hard to get a guy to want to have sex with you?

I see plain people with children All.The.Time. SOMEONE’S rolling their stromboli and since I’m not sure Hump the Homely has achieved its 501(c)(3) status quite yet, I don’t think they’re doing it for the tax write-off.

Or maybe it’s to get a man to –oh prize of prizes– put a ring on it?

If you can bake a cupcake and lift your soft palate, you can get a husband.

Maybe not one worth having, but, as my internet friend once said, “There’s a Sigfried for every Roy.”

I think my record has established I am an absolutely horrible person, entirely unfit for human companionship. Just ask my grandmother. Now that it rarely tops 80 or dips below 70, even my dog stays outside most of the day. But even if you exclude the drunk, the Irish and the mentally ill, I’ve still had more than half a dozen marriage proposals in my life and my cupcakes aren’t that good.

Finding someone to love and who loves you with all your intricacies, physical ones too, is a blessing, and it’s one we can bestow upon ourselves. So give yourself a compliment, leave out the qualifiers and just get on with it. After all, as Saint RuPaul of Charles says: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?

16 Responses to “Self Praise and other Endangered Species”

  1. shellymc August 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Can I get an a-men up in here?!

    (PS: Don’t discount the Irish, we’re awesome!)

  2. wildflower August 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Thank you for this delectable post! I personally don’t need the take-home message, as I like myself just fine, but the side comments and references to familial dysfunctions are awesome. And from now on, the next time I feel myself start to fret over why this or that family member is being cruel to me for seemingly no reason, I’ll just chalk it up to her “not being one of my fans”. Thank you. :)

  3. Thea August 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    For a woman, self-acceptance is civil disobedience
    *STANDING OVATION*

    Not only am I gonna get the t-shirt, I’m gonna make my imaginary staff embroider it on a cushion

  4. CurvyCEO August 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I must bring you my tithes AND my offerings for this post. Amen and amen! So on point!

  5. Inky August 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Huzzah! I’m sending this to every woman I know that does not accept herself for the fantastic human that she is.

  6. txbunny August 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Thank you.
    Perfect timing as always. :-)

  7. Liz August 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m actually not pretty. I’m downright ugly, in fact. And I still love how I look, right down to the fact that I’m 26 and I’m still not allowed to buy alcohol. (Trust me, nothing beats getting kicked out of the off licence because “that’s the worst immitation ID I’ve ever seen. You should be in class, girl”.)

    Also, I feel a bit awkward about the whole “we’re all beautiful/we should feel pretty” stuff. Heaven help me, I think Julie Burchill gets it right. It should be possible to know you’re not attractive and still have high self esteem:

    http://tinyurl.com/3j4pjdq

  8. Liz August 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Also, the Irish are kuh-LEER-lee God’s chosen people.

    *flicks hair and saunters off*

  9. wildflower August 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    @Liz: Thanks for that link. I agree with the heart of Julie Burchill’s manifesto, although I disagree with a few of the details. But I find it ironic that her current photo shows her to be a rather attractive woman who looks at least a decade younger than her proclaimed 52. And that photo of hers in her 20’s isn’t exactly the astonishing contrast she makes it out to be. She was a reasonably pretty young woman; now she is a reasonably pretty middle-aged woman.

    The biggest niggling part I disagree with is this: “A beautiful woman is still beautiful if she goes for a week without washing, fries herself in the sun and drinks alcohol by the gallon… A plain woman is still plain after a week at Champney’s.” I don’t find that to be true at all. A lot of character, emotional intelligence, and lifestyle choices are reflected in a face, and others respond to that.

    I believe that when it is said that good-looking people are afforded privileges, it isn’t referring to the people who most closely resemble Catherine Zeta-Jones or Aishwarya Rai; it’s referring to the people who look pleasant, lively, intelligent, and likeable. Which Burchill’s looks have in spades.

    In contrast, many of today’s top models look to me like they have all of the warm intelligence of pit vipers.

  10. Ellen W. August 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    First: I *just* found a new wrinkle on my face and I’m trying not to let it upset me. I’ll pretend it’s an interesting scar and make up a story about it, or something.

    Second: a weird thing I discovered is that once my female friends have heard me evaluate my looks honestly and fairly they suddenly would actually believe me when I told them they looked good. I’m still not sure why, but it’s been consistant.

  11. Liz August 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    @Wildflower:

    I think the DM were being a bit mischievous with the photo of her in her twenties. In the pictures of her with Tony Parsons in the seventies, for instance, you can kind of see it:

    http://tinyurl.com/caxfc9f

    Toby Young and Parsons both write of her as being stunningly beautiful in those days, which I admit I don’t see. But that seems to have had more to do with her apparently being incredibly charismatic. And slightly evil.

  12. Liz August 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    @Ellen W.:

    “…I discovered is that once my female friends have heard me evaluate my looks honestly and fairly they suddenly would actually believe me when I told them they looked good. I’m still not sure why, but it’s been consistant.”

    I think it’s because you’ve broken out of the “sickly sweet, nice and slightly disingenuous girlie” mode. Not “boasting” about your looks is a sign of someone who will bend over backwards to not make people uncomfortable, or say anything that might get up peoples’ noses.

    It *might* make you easier to be around for some people, but it casts a shadow over everything else you say. So it means that, if you capitulate in that way, you’ll do it in others. So your friends didn’t know if you were saying they looked good as part of your life plan to never rock the boat, or because they actually looking good.

  13. Tovah August 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I’m fine with my looks. In fact, I feel pretty secure even though I have alot of extra poundage. I feel really good about myself until I’m in a room of size 0 women. Then, I just feel like I’m taking up too much space in the room. Sad, huh?

  14. RHCD August 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Hot damn! and Amen!

    linking to this for when the voices come back at me. Because they do and they are wrong.

  15. AnthroK8 August 18, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    @TOVAH– Oh, go watch you some women’s boxing. Dooo itttt, even if you don’t like seeing people hit one another. BECAUSE those are some ladies who are not at all afraid to take up space. And Cleressa Shields? Not a size 0. Not at all a small person. And she and all the other women’s boxing medalists? Took up space. I loved it. So great.

    @Plummie- A-MEN.

  16. Melissa August 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    “You can be the ripest, juciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” -Dita Von Teese