Beauty Tricks

My best friend when I was growing up was a blonde, blue-eyed, egomaniac. She was very beautiful and at the same time deeply insecure, manipulative, and troubled. Guess which traits everybody talked about?

It was a conspiracy. Teachers, parents, our friends– it didn’t matter what she did. She once read my diary aloud to the guests at my birthday party. She even stormed out of my house immediately after doing it, angry that I had written about her most recent act of previously mentioned egomania. Angry at me. My mom said I should apologize. Judas! But, I couldn’t blame her. She was but one of the many who’d sworn allegiance to Beauty, and I was the worst of them all.

I spent hours on the phone, talking Beauty out of her latest insecurity. Her eyes were too far apart. Her pores were too visible. (“What are pores?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t want to risk the retribution that would surely follow.) She’d recently started shopping at a particular store in the mall, and I had better start too, she said. Also, we needed to start working out, because she suspected that we had too much arm fat.

When she said it, it became real. I had “arm fat”. Even though I’d never noticed it before, other people were noticing it, and judging me! Beauty had it figured out: being beautiful is how to get people to like you. Therefore, it was the most important thing there was.

I’m a grown-up now. Sort of. Anyway, I have business cards. I’d like think of myself as a thoughtful person who is essentially allergic to bullshit. But then something happens, somebody says something, and then all of a sudden it’s like, maybe I should just order a salad. (Then I cancel the salad and order cheeseburger instead, but we’ll talk about Eating Our Feelings another time. Another future conversation: Why Would I Eat Leaves?)

You have to talk back to yourself when you hear that negative stuff in your head. That’s not you talking. That’s your evil best friend from when you were a kid* talking! That’s just foolishness, and you have no time for foolishness. You have business cards.

Last week I heard that one of my co-workers was talking about my weight. My weight gain, to be specific. A lot of things went through my head. There was my allergic-to-bullshit response, which was that this guy can just fuck right off–this is my body, and this is the third wave of feminism, and this is 2012, and nobody but nobody tells me what my body is supposed to look like. This inner rant carried me for the next ten minutes until I ordered salad, canceled my salad, and got a cheeseburger instead.

Whatever, I’ve gained some weight. I don’t know how much, because I’m trying not to weigh myself. Really your weight is just a number, and I’ve always hated math. I also hate anything people use to measure their worth objectively. I know somebody who got like a million on their SAT and they talk about it all the time, but they are also basically a terrible parent, so. And, yeah, I may have gained X number of pounds, but I’m a DD cup now, so. Are you following? What I’m saying is, my boobs are full of cheeseburgers. Gross right? That’s not what I’m saying. I digress.

What I’m saying is, this kind of discussion is childish. Ha, ha, Shannon is getting fat! You know what? I have an office. With a window. I have many qualities, not all of them positive, but I am not my arm fat. No more than Beauty was her Beauty.

I doubt my co-worker had any ill intentions when he said these things, but telling other people we work with (at work) his opinion about my body is unprofessional and unkind. It undermines the work that I do, and I work hard.

I like how I look, by the way. What other people say is just what other people say.

Shannon currently lives in Chicago. This dress is not zipped up in the back, because it no longer does.

*Beauty, if you’re reading this, I know we were just kids, and I don’t blame you for a thing. I’m sure you will run the world someday and I will bow to you and feed you low-calorie snacks.

P.s. Your pores look great.

9 thoughts on “Beauty Tricks

  1. Ah yes – mean people SUCK!! My boyfriend when I was 15 told me “you just don’t look good in shorts”. Hm. Well guess who has two thumbs and didn’t wear shorts until I was 24? This guy! Ugh! How much time was wasted to that stupid comment spoken by a 16-year old criminal (I later found out, oh duh but SO OBVIOUS!!). Hindsight, 20/20, that sort of thing. The best part of getting older is looking back and realizing how ridiculous it is/was to let those things have power over me. Hell yes, I’ll have another beer!! (I’m not big on cheeseburgers…)

    1. Who the F told you that?? I will mess him up, for real. And – girl scouts honor – I always envied your legs. Not that we should encourage envy among friends, either, but I cannot tell a lie. Besides, you’ve also been one of my favorite people on the planet for over 20 years. So there, stupid teenage boy.

  2. Well, judging by the photo you certainly don’t seem to have any weight to lose – and can you alter that dress to fit you now? Because it looks really good on.
    I’ve been there, and this is as a girl who’s never gotten even close to being fat. But I’ve always been very vulnerable to the snide, underhanded comments from other girls.
    But for me, the best remedy is to address them straight up. When someone makes a snide underhanded comment, I tend to make it awkward for them by straight up denying it.
    Them: “You’re way too skinny, you look sick.”
    Me: “No actually I’m not, and I look really good. But thankyou for your input, I’ll be sure to ask if I ever want to know what you think about my body again.” & smile/act natural as if what I said was just general conversation.
    The people who live off this kind of snideness just don’t know what to do with themselves :p

  3. I applaud your line about talking back to yourself when having negative thoughts. I don’t remember anyone saying anything about my body specifically. Sadly, I do remember having many a negative thoughts about my own body as a teenager. While I am healthier now as an adult, after three bambinos I look back at pictures now and wish I would have appreciated the body I had as a teen. I will never see that flat stomach again…unless I give up cookies. Not worth it I decided. Welcome to RLB Shannon!

    1. While I haven’t had any babies yet, I hear you on this, Mel. How silly of me to not appreciate the string-bikini-wearing physique I had at 23! So the lesson learned is to appreciate my body Now, not only for all that it is, but also for all that it can Do.

  4. Oh gawd! Shannon I’m so excited about this post. I was reading it in the dressing room last night and couldn’t keep from laughing out loud.

    Also, I know I could sit here and tell you that you’re beautiful (because you are) or that you don’t need to lose any weight (because you don’t) but rather, I’m going to focus on the fact that you are such an EXCELLENT writer. I hope that one day you have a show on HBO that’s more racial diverse than “Girls”.

    1. Thank you, AA! Yeah, I’d like to see some more color out there, for sure! More diversity and more ladies. And more diverse ladies.

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