42 thoughts on “Abnormal

  1. A friend once told me, “I know this sounds AWFUL – but I kinda like my boobs.”

    It didn’t sound awful at all. I was really happy to hear a woman compliment her body for once. But I, too, know the feeling of not wanting to say positive things. It’s “arrogant”.

    I like my boobs, too. And I fucking love my hair. Feels good to say it.

  2. I know this is an aside… but what about the jackass who sent naked pictures of someone because they didn’t hide them well enough? Jesus H. Christ.

  3. This is so not just about bodies, either. “Normal girls” are never expected to think ANYTHING about themselves is perfect, or even good.

    But it’s been years since I could even half-heartedly pretend to be normal. So. I think my body is fabulous. I have gorgeous legs, titties for days, and wicked hot tattoos. Also, singing or speaking, my voice is awesome.

  4. When I was in grad school I did a research proposal dealing with body issues (apparently I’ve been interested in it longer than I realized!) and was surprised/appalled to see that most scales of body satisfaction are weighted toward the negative–e.g., you rate yourself on a scale from “I hate my breasts” to “I accept my breasts.” Acceptance is as good as it gets. “I think my breasts are freakin’ awesome” is not an option. How messed up, ethically and psychologically and, hello, scientifically, is that?

    (BTW and OT–if you like PostSecrets, have you read Postcards from Yo Mama? http://postcardsfromyomomma.com/. If your mother is of a certain age, yet computer savvy enough to e-mail or IM you, this site will convince you that she is the Final Cylon–because EVERYONE ELSE’S MOTHER writes EXACTLY LIKE HER.)

  5. I’m trying to get over it, but I always thought that saying anything nice about yourself made you conceited. I took being humble to an extreme, and I can imagine how it would get on everyone’s nerves. Like, I have really really pretty eyes, but any compliments on them would usually be met with ‘They’re okay…’ and a change of subject. I felt that even if I was just accepting a compliment, the person who said something in the first place would think: ‘Well, she certainly is full of herself.’

    Same goes with my artwork, and my writing.. blah blah. I also had this warped idea that other people who were confident about their abilities, or appearance were also selfish and vain.

  6. I remember saying something like that after my son was born and I started swimming again. I’d been bitching about my newly aquired ‘mommy pouch’ then saw what I looked like in the mirror with my new mommy curves and I said “Omg where did those come from? I hate to say this, but damn I look good!” Why did I hate to say that? Is it because other women in the lockerroom would hear me and be jealous? Hear me and wonder why they didn’t love their own curves? I don’t know.

  7. Mistletow–I know you’re working through it, so I’m not piling on … but responding to a compliment that way sort of insults the judgment of the person who said it! Or makes them feel somehow dismissed or unworthy. Maybe thinking of it that way will help …

  8. I think it’s hard for a girl to say she likes *anything* about herself. I used to lie about doing well on tests in high school because I didn’t want the comments that went along with it. Thankfully my parents gave me a good enough head on my shoulders that this phase did, eventually pass.

    Thanks for posting this.

  9. Miss Conduct: I guess I didn’t make it clear with the past tense- I don’t do that anymore, the dismissing comments with the faux humble. Nowadays I just say ‘Thank you!’ I realized that it was an insulting way to respond to someone’s kind comments.

  10. My body doesn’t look like anyone elses, and it certainly doesn’t look thin or athletic or anything else that would make me fall into the “acceptable” category. But I think that my body matches my personality really well and I like that.

    I also like my feet. I’ve been told my toes are stubby and some other things. But I don’t really care because with the weather better out I get to buy a new pair of cheap black flip flops. and then pretend I’m a ninja whenever I look down at my feet.

  11. Carrie: “I think it’s hard for a girl to say she likes *anything* about herself. ”

    I agree. We’re supposed to be modest little flowers, and one of the socially accepted female bonding rituals is “Oh, I’m so fat!” “No, you’re not. I’m a hog!” “No, you’re not. I’m so ugly!” and so on. To pipe in and say “Hey, I think I look cute” would be a deviation from the ritual.

    I like my hips and butt. I like my hands and feet. I’m working on liking my breasts, especially since I can now find bras that fit properly. I even like my big, bony nose, because without it my singing voice wouldn’t be the same. Thankfully I don’t normally associate with those who participate in standard female bonding rituals.

  12. Oh my…I just read that like a half an hour ago, and my heart went snap.
    This past Friday night, I decided that I really like my hips…I love the way they look, and they way they move when I shake them. I LOVE shaking my hips…something about moving the central part of my body makes me feel really good.

  13. I have made it a personal challenge to go through my body and compliment every part of it.

    What is sad, is not long after I made my first positive post on my blog, I got called by a national TV show to appear on it (on another subject). This will be a follow up to a story they did in 2000, and my first thought is “I am too fat now! No way do I want to go on TV looking like this.”
    I am still working my way through that baggage, because I thought I had been making progress on my body image. I am OK until I think of having an audience… sigh.

  14. Krista,

    That’s a wonderful, useful challenge. I’m still working on it!

    I did a local TV appearance about eating disorders, and I flipped right beforehand, because I was so terrified that people wouldn’t believe that someone *fat like me* would ever have been *anorexic*. I see the clip now and it’s kind of funny, because I was nowhere near a healthy weight yet.

    I guess things in the mirror aren’t quite what they seem.

    Good luck with your TV appearance.

  15. Miss Conduct- Honestly? I encountered someone similar to me in the forced humble-ness. And it hurt my feelings when they rejected praise. Seeing it from a different point of view made me realize what I was doing to well-wishers, and I started actively being more positive about compliments. :D

  16. I just watched Penelope last night and there was this hilarious moment where the mom went “What? That’s what mother’s and daughters do! They talk about how they could look Prettier!!” So great.

  17. My mother, who “struggled” with her weight her whole life, once looked in the mirror and said to me, smiling, “You know I’m not fat. No wait, I am fat, but not as fat as I could be” She couldn’t even give herself a compliment without immediately invalidating it. Three years ago Friday, she committed suicide. *sniff*
    I never tell people that. But hating your body can actually kill.

  18. Vivelafat, I’m so sorry about your mom. I’m glad you shared that story because too many people in the world think that self-hatred is some kind of silly little thing women do, instead of seeing it for the damaging (and even deadly) thing it is.

  19. Vivelafat I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. It does serve to remind us all, how important it is to fight for fat rights, so nobody else feels their life is less important than being thin.

  20. Thanks Jae and Jackie. That really makes me feel better. The funny thing is that at a size 16 I loved myself far more then she could ever love herself at a size 8. My heart breaks for her when I think of it. That’s why FA is so important to me. I talk about it, and months later I hear my sister discussing it with her friends and my notoriously skinny-centric bff telling her mom that she shouldn’t wait till she looses weight to go to the beach. Those little victories give me hope. We can make a difference. Even if we don’t always see it.

  21. I clearly remember in 8th grade we did fancy school portraits (like senior pictures for 8th graders) and how all the girls were hating on themselves the day we got them back and how guilty I felt for thinking “hey, I look pretty”.

    Thankfully I missed the memo in 5th/6th grade that it’s ugly to take compliments well, I’ve never thought that false humility was attractive. Must have been my mother :)

  22. My six year old daughter will often respond to compliments with, “Yes, I know!” I’ve watched people be completely horrified that she responds this way. I know she will eventually pick up on it and change her ways – which is why I’m trying to help her learn that it’s perfectly okay to accept the compliment and to know that you’re beautiful, talented and have wonderful hair/eyes and there is nothing wrong with saying so. Until people accept that it’s not conceited or out of line to feel that you’re okay just the way you are we will continue to fight this battle.

  23. My six year old daughter will often respond to compliments with, “Yes, I know!”

    Hee! My 2 1/2 year old niece responded to being told she was pretty with: “Yes I am!” I’ve also heard her say: “I’m funny!”. It’s so sweet, because she’s been told by other people that she’s pretty and funny, and she has no reason to disbelieve them so she doesn’t. Soon enough society will teach her to doubt herself and and the compliments she gets, but for now I really cherish her innocnence.

  24. My freckles? They are made of awesome. Bow to them. Bow to my freckles.

    NOW!

    Seriously, my freckles rock.

  25. CJ, I occasionally do that myself, with people I know well. “You look good today.” “Yeah I do!” I sort of hope your daughter keeps it up.

    With people I don’t know, I feel more awkward about accepting compliments (there are always audience members hanging around after a show who want to gush over the performers). I have had to consciously train myself not to say, “No, I really fucked up.” Even when I did not, in fact, fuck up at all. These days a smile and a “Thank you!” has become more automatic, but I’m still often lost for anything to say after that.

    Vivelafat, I hope you know that all those little victories you’re talking about, they’re a beautiful way of honoring your mom’s memory. I bet she would be really happy and proud of you.

  26. You know it’s so funny because when someone compliments something I own that I really like I always respond with “I know, Right?” I supposed i’m supposed to say “this old thing?” But I can’t help but enjoy the shared enthusiasm for this awesome thing that I own.

    If only it didn’t feel 100 times ruder to say the same thing about yourself. “You know, you have a really pretty face!” “I know, right? I’m so glad I’m me!”

  27. Shinobi42, I do the same thing. Either “I know, right?” Or “I know, I love it too!” I have actually been told this is being “full of yourself.” …Which makes no damn sense, because why the hell would I wear anything I didn’t absolutely love?

  28. The whole time I was growing up, I was the stereotypical wallflower nerd who thought I was the ugliest thing ever. My – whole – life. I was big, I was homely, I was nothing special. Then a couple of years ago I looked through all of my childhood pictures when I was visiting my parents. To my surprise, I saw a normal, cute girl. Sure, there were a few unfortunate haircuts, and during puberty there was the requisite odd year or two, but in general I was a cute kid. It really did something to me to see the physical evidence that I didn’t look like what I thought I did.
    Still trying to translate that to now, but it was still an eye-opener.

  29. I distinctly remember when I was a young kid in elementary school–perhaps in 1st or 2nd grade–sitting my bony ass and protruding ribs at the lunch table, affecting something akin to a valley girl accent while lamenting, “I can’t have this; I’m sooooo fat!” to my equally skinny friends as I ate my daily cookie. Why did we do this back and forth to each other at age 7? Because we were miming what older girls were SUPPOSED to say. Play-acting imprints the gender role eventually adopted as an adult, as we all know.

    I have since gained weight and love my body more than ever, especially because my butt’s not bony anymore!

  30. Vivelafat, ((hugs))

    My six year old daughter will often respond to compliments with, “Yes, I know!”

    I can remember saying that once in my life, to my Great Aunt Bertha, who promptly handed me my ass for being such an egotistical little turd. I can still see the look on her face, and she’s been dead for decades.

  31. An ex- colleague once complimented me on my new reading glasses and I immediately said, “I know aren’t they brilliant?” (just about to add that my mum originally found the wacky 50s-style frames in a bag bound for the trash in the charity shop she works in), and my ex-colleague, God love her, immediately got all arsey and started retracting the compliment because she thought I was agreeing with it too heartily. What are you expected to do? Say “Thanks but they’re horrible really and I look like a dog in them”?

  32. I’m a singer, and to this day (I’m 22) my mom still admonishes me to accept compliments graciously and humbly whenever I perform. ‘Cause you know, after all these years I’m suddenly going to become this conceited prideful monster, right? I guess the moral of the story is to take pride in what you do…but not too much.

  33. Oddly enough, I never have a problem accepting compliments on something I’m wearing or something that I own. I own/drive a small, emerald-green hatchback, and I get a lot of comments telling me how cute the car is, how great the color is, etc. My response is usually along the lines of “Oh yeah, I love it! I stopped car shopping when I saw it.” Or if people comment on say, my shoes, I don’t hesitate to agree with them that my shoes are indeed cute. I wouldn’t wear them otherwise. And when people compliment me on my singing, I don’t disparage myself. I know that I can sing. I simply respond with “thank you”.

  34. i-geek, me too! It’s so much easier for me to accept complements on my clothes/shoes/accessories than on prettiness or intelligence… unless it’s a complement on my teeth. I had braces for 6 years, dammit, I earned those teeth.

    On the other hand, I used to wear this t-shirt that said “I’m Smart” on it– until complete strangers started calling me a bitch whenever I had it on.

  35. EmilyG: “On the other hand, I used to wear this t-shirt that said “I’m Smart” on it– until complete strangers started calling me a bitch whenever I had it on.”

    Unbelievable. You should have told them where they could have shirts printed up that say “I’m Rude.”

  36. I have also noticed from working in the fashion and entertainment industry that the thin model types are the ones who seem to be the hardest on themselves about their weight and body image. Also their boyfriends and husbands do plenty to make them feel worse about their bodies, no matter how great they look. The key is to not give a damn, and trust the mirror and what you see as opposed to what some jerk tells you.

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