I'm feeling a touch under the weather, which is typical for me on the eve of the WisRWA conference. I always get so wound up that I wind up making myself a little ill. This year, in addition to seeing a lot of my writer friends, and learning a lot and PITCHING "Lies in Chance" to a couple of agents, I'm doing my first ever real life book signing! If you're in the Brookfield, WI area (Just west of Milwaukee) on Saturday, come on down to the Brookfield Suites and Hotel Conference center. I'll be selling and signing books along with several of my fellow authors. All proceeds go to literacy programs in the Milwaukee area, so you're supporting a great cause. Book signing is from 5 Pm to 6PM, but books will be sold all day Saturday. Address is 1200 S. Moorland Rd., Brookfield. 53005
There. Business out of the way.
Last week I met a couple of really, really spectacular ladies. I won't name them by name, they know who they are. Let's call them...Tina and Faye. (Just because.) Faye managed to get me an autograph from Rick Springfield. And then Faye took a picture of me holding said autograph. I was grinning from ear to ear. I believe, before I saw the picture, I said, "Well, that's the definition of GLEE."
And then I saw the picture.
I hate pictures of myself. I've gained several dozen pounds over the years and most of them landed in my face. I pretty much look like my Dad with earrings. A decent look for a guy. Not for a girl. I'm all chin and neck. And I hate it. Seeing myself in that picture, no matter how joyful I was at the moment it was taken, depressed me.
Later that weekend, Tina, who is a lovely, thin, young woman (She recently lost a significant amount of weight) was telling me that she doesn't get noticed because she's the fat girl. I was stunned. Here was this beautiful lady (seriously, beautiful dark hair, delicate features, great smile) telling me that she doesnt' get noticed because she's fat. Egads.
I tried to tell her she was pretty, blah, blah blah, all the stuff we tell our friends when they feel down about themselves. It never works.
Here's why: We think of ourselves in one way. In my head I look like I did right after Boy Child was born. Somewhat rounded, but young and energetic, and thin enough to shop in the regular part of the store. When I see myself in pictures, I do not see what others do...a fun, confident woman who is a little heavy, but cheerful, fun, and always on the go. What I see when I look at myself in pictures is a fat, tired, loser who is faking it.
And I think that is the same for Tina. What was an eye opener for me is that I was seeing her in such a completely different way from how she saw herself. And I realized that society has put so much crap on the shoulders of women, we've lost who we really are.
In the quest to have it all, job, family, whatever, we women have lost our own reflections. We think of ourselves one way, we see ourselves another, and what we really look like to others is a completely different thing. (Gee, thanks Gloria Steinem. Now not only do I have to open the door myself, and pick up the check, and work full time, AND RAISE A FAMILY in the same amount of time my grandmother had to do half the crap I have to do, now I have to be perfect while doing it. Thanks. Feminism has really worked out well.)
It's no wonder eating disorders on both ends of the scale run rampant among women. Our body image SUCKS because we've got everyone howling at us to be thin...be perfect...be beautiful...
Well screw that.
To Tina, my new friend, I say, girl, you are beautiful. One day you will see yourself as those around you see you. Right now you still see yourself as that shy, slightly overweight lady. But someday you'll see that the outside of you is just as beautiful and perfect as the inside.
To Faye, I say, Thank you for that autograph. Because I have it and I have the picture of me and I can see true joy in my eyes. I have to focus on that joy as I work towards a healthier me.
In the meantime, to the society that is making half our girls fat and half our girls deathly thin I say, screw you. We are who we are. We are mothers, we are daughters. We work, we study, we play, we sing, we dance, and we are f+++ing beautiful.
And if that's not enough for you, that's your problem.
Want the rest of my manifesto? Listen to Rick Springfield's song "Perfect." It's a primal scream that every overweight woman, every scared little girl, every person who's ever not been perfect enough for those around them can howl into the air.
But to me, my friends, you are all beautiful...