An Old Movie… or For Any Woman That Does Not Feel “Beautiful”
I opened my email this morning and there was one from Molly Larkin. She always writes things that make you think and I was eager to read her latest post. It was titled “Why “Tootsie” is one of my favorite films”. At the end of the post is a link to a 3 minute talk by Dustin Hoffman, who played Tootsie. You really should see it.
Go and read this short article and watch the film now if you haven’t already and then come back here….
Ok. Let me begin by telling you that I know that I am not alone, and am not an ogre by any means, but I am also no “mother’s masterpiece”, to borrow a line from a song that tends to tweak this particular heart string. I am a dark haired, stocky, woman born of a tall, lithe blond (bottle, but still) mother who never had much self esteem but did have a full compliment of emotional issues.
From a little girl, it was firmly and openly impressed upon me that one must be thin and attractive “to be respected in this world”, and that all overweight/fat people are “out of control” and they “could not possibly be happy like that”.
My mother was nothing short of clinically obsessed with her weight. I’ve read the books, and I know of what I speak. I have no issue with truth. We all have to work with what we are given.
I grew up to become what I was… a stocky, dark haired woman who would never look like Twiggy and, because of my sturdy build, would never fit into standard “B” cup designed clothing that my mother always bragged the she could go into any store and try on any outfit and look good in it because she was thin. (This whole scenario was born of her abandonment issues with her father for being a very large man that died very young of heart disease and diabetes, who was looked upon as the voice of reason and stability in a very emotionally chaotic household. See how causes form effects on down the line?)
So, By the time I began to try and convince myself that looks maybe weren’t everything, the scar tissue had already formed and one can plaster that with as much make-up as one wishes, but that sort of scar will never goes away. There is no emotional plastic surgery for a little girl who is lead to believe that she can never measure up to the standard of what beauty is supposed to be. Not even after I was literally sent to modelling classes “to learn how to walk and apply make-up, so I could look my best”.
I have always kind of felt that I would never really be respected for just being me. I just didn’t have stunningly engaging attractiveness, or that professional, polished air and, besides, I was a bit off in left field, with the whole psychic thing.
The two things that I feel that I value most are honesty and self-awareness, or the ability to realize how one’s thoughts, words and deeds affects the rest of the world (a gift born of constantly being told that I did not know how I “sounded”!).
I suffered a lack of both of these virtues in my upbringing and the road to accepting that you can depend upon or trust anyone, ever, is a hard one I walk still. But the feeling that I wasn’t shaped right and didn’t look as good enough; that I was somehow big, clumsy and awkward is something that I will battle forever. It has effected every aspect of my life to date despite my awareness of it and its utter ridiculousness and invalidity in reality.
I do not believe in blaming one’s past for one’s present problems, to the effect that so many become stuck at one event in their lives and never are able move past it. We all need to take responsibility for ourselves at some point, unless we are mentally incapable of doing so. BUT, it is like trying to build a house having been given the wrong set of tools. It’s just hard. I mean, Dustin Hoffman “got” a rare glimpse of what if feels like to be a real woman trapped in a world of unrealistically artificial beauty and eternal youth that is supposed to determine your value as a human being.
Believe me, if you have similar feelings, you are far from alone! You are far from being damaged goods and there is always still time to break free from the self-imposed prisons that we have created for ourselves.
Who, what , where, when and how it happened does not matter. You don’t have to accept it, come to terms with it, forgive it, or get over it. You simply have to redirect your attention to what you are missing and have missed by dwelling on it and muster up some vigilance, a good measure of awareness and recognition of what causes you to think an act/re-act the way that you do, and the strength to feel the horror of looking foolish, awkward, acceptable, ugly, improper, abnormal (really, normal?), out of place or what have you, and muscle through it however you must, and just act, think and do as your truest self. You owe that to yourself and it is all that really matters.