We don't hate you because you're beautiful... we dislike you, because you're a vain bitch

Trigger Warning: This blog contains some body issue ranting and a vague discussion of vanity about looks. It's not as ranty as the last body issue blog, it's not very linear, either. It meanders a bit, and I'm sorry for that. I couldn't get the thoughts out in any kind of rational way, and edited extensively.

Last week a woman named Samantha Brick wrote an article for the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail is Britain's version of the National Enquirer, or close to it anyway, it's a total rag. I admit, occasionally I get sucked into an article on it, mostly when I haven't realised it's the "Flail". However, this article, I went looking for, on purpose, after Jezebel did a short article on it.

Brick (married to a Frenchman, and living in "the French countryside" which she told us a thousand times, and continues to do so every time she writes an article) wrote the cutest, most trite: "Why women hate because I'm beautiful". She's a relatively normal-looking blonde woman, who I thought looked to be about 50-- turns out she's 41; she's not cute, or beautiful, merely nice looking. The photo spread included with the article showed her in a variety of poses, clothing, and even with her husband; not one of them made her look beautiful. She's just not beautiful.

Oh, she apparently thinks she is, though-- based on her article. She's one of those "Don't hate me, because I'm beautiful!" people. If I met her at any random thing, I'd think she looked pleasant enough, but based on her personality that shined through the article, she's a vain, conceited narcissist; so I'd run like hell as soon as I found that out.

I try to avoid narcissists, they tend to suck the life out of everyone around them. Most people do, as we like our spirits not to be destroyed by being in close proximity to someone who doesn't have any empathy or regard for others. It's easier that way, I think.

So, I read this article, and tried to be non-judgemental, to actually see her point. I am disappointed to say that I did, but it's only because she appears to be in an emotionally abusive relationship,and having been there, I know what it's like. I've read a couple of her articles, and her husband figures pretty high in her writing; he is the sort of fat, 50-something man who thinks he's gorgeous! He's the kind that stuffs his face with fast food, but bitches about "how fat the world is getting because they don't eat right"; however, what he really means is: women around me aren't vying for my attention, and even if they did, they're all too fat for me! In one article she wrote, she told how he basically browbeat her into getting on her excise bike every day, so she can stay thin and lovely and perfect enough for him as well as policing everything she eats and drinks. And she claims to be OK with it.

Anyway, through the latest missive from Ms. Brick, she tells us how men randomly give her shit, pay her bar tab and taxi bills. She wrote about the adoration she receives from strangers, always men, and how women are so totally jealous of her, and won't be friends with her. She also tells us how her female friends dump her, because they're all afraid Brick is going to steal their spouses... but of course Brick never did anything to give them that idea, those crazy bitches!

If this is something she's dealt with all her life, I'm thinking it's probably not her "beauty" but her delusions of beauty that cause her some trouble with women.

Some people, of all genders, are beautiful to look at; some of them stay gorgeous when they start talking-- of course some people aren't pretty at all when they open their mouths. Conversely, some people are just OK, decent looking, or maybe pleasant; but once you get to know them, they become some of the most beautiful people you know! It's the spirit, the personality of the people we know, meet, interact with-- even read the articles they wrote-- that shine through. And it's the personality that makes us like them, or dislike them. I get the feeling Brick's personality, her conceit and vanity, shining through that makes women dislike her.

I hadn't intended to write about Brick; the Internet piled on pretty harshly, and don't need me to help. The comments on the original article, as well as the Jez/Gawker trackback were part "Bitch please", part "nope, she's not beautiful but I don't hate her", part body snarking about her (ie. she's ugly/fat/anything negative at her physical form kind of thing) and part "don't be mean, it's bullying*".

The whole thing flew right out my head, it didn't mean much to me at all, once I formulated my own, "Bitch, please" reaction to it. I know I'm not the most beautiful woman on earth; I also know a pretty face when I see one. Her delusions of drop-dead gorgeousness didn't really impact me at all.

Then, a woman I know mentioned she was "down to" her target weight, "just in time for bikini season" on Facebook. [as a side note, her target weight puts her about 15 pounds underweight for her height, maybe more, as she's not exactly small-boned and petite.]

This women is pretty enough, she's smart, single and works hard. She's got her day-job, and then does photographs on her off time, some of them are pretty decent, some look overly photo-chopped, but it's her hobby, so it's her business.

She's also someone who planted herself firmly on my "Yup, she's vain" list; if not vain, then desperately in need of some therapy to help her with her self-image. That's probably unfair of me. I mean, Facebook, you're allowed to share too much information there, right? You're supposed to seek approval from your friends for everything you do, and get patted on the head for "being a good girl"... right? And of course, all women are worth only what our scales tell us we're worth; we're thin, precious and pretty, or we're worthless.

Sadly, this woman has so much going for her, I honestly thought she'd beaten her self-image daemons.

I know society is horrible to women, telling us what we can look like, and can't; what we can think, how we can dress, what our hobbies ought to be. Even whether it's OK if we take birth control or not (queue RCC bishops and their faux outrage over contraception in 5....4.....3.....)

That doesn't mean that I'll let someone off the hook for being shallow, or vain, or sacrificing their health to be thin. You can be too thin, and you can be skinny and unhealthy. That's why Brick got slammed so hard for her vanity and narcissism. She put herself out there as a beautiful women hated by her rivals (yeah, I don't get it either). When  you do that, you're painting a target on your chest and telling people "Shoot for this bit, right here". I hope she get some therapy, and leaves her abusive husband-- and finds a couple lady friends she can trust to be honest with her (and who have spouses Brick isn't interested in. Most of the time the "I'm so hot my friends dump me, because they're afraid I'll steal their husbands" thing is because the woman saying that does indeed try to have relationships with men who are married or already committed. Wrong, very wrong.)

As for the woman I know, I don't hate her either, because she's pretty.

I can say, without rancour, that I wouldn't sleep with her. She's not my type, and that's OK. She's some one's type, though, everyone is. But, not scoring very highly on my "fuckability" scale doesn't mean shit about her as a person, just means I'm not attracted to her. This of course is pretty normal, as I see it: being a sexual person doesn't mean you want to fuck everything that moves (usually).

I think she's a decent sort, and would not hesitate to introduce her to any of my single male friends. That's a big thing, really, putting someone on your "hook them up with my buddies" list-- at least it is, for me.

I'm not jealous of her, either. I've thought long and hard about why her weight announcement bothered me, and at first I thought, "oh, it's just jealousy, and that happens." When we own our jealousy it fades away, becoming a slight embarrassment, but nothing more. It's not a nice thing, to think you're being jealous, be it over a a person, or a number on a scale, or anything else. It's hard to own it, though, to admit, even to yourself, if you're hating something about a person, because you're jealous about it. It's very hard.

Then I thought it was irritation at her public kudos seeking-- that bothers the shit out of me, no matter who does it. Yes, you're a worthy person; no, you don't need me patting your head in public to see that**. But no, it wasn't that. I think she was announcing it, because she had announced "starting my diet" a few months ago, and that was, for her, a real update in "How I am Doing Today!" She shared it, I think, so we could celebrate with her.

Then I thought it might be because every time someone talks about weight in that fashion my own daemons raise their heads, and I can see the loo-scales spinning in those eyes. My own daemons, as I've discussed, aren't kind to me; even though I've had some victories, I still fight with myself and my peanut gallery about not being enough, or being enough-enough. To my surprise, that wasn't it, either.

My irritation at the weight-status update was because I felt sorry for her. It was pity that turned into irritation, because I try not to pity anyone-- it's demeaning. I feel like I'm being pretentious, feeling pity about a woman's obsession with her own looks, or another's scale-addiction. Pretentious because I'm not much better, and I can't say they're working on those issues, or not-- I don't know them well enough. Pretentious because I'm putting myself in a place of judgement over them, and I don't want to do that. I want to be right beside them, and every other woman out there struggling to be the best Her she is. Yeah, I'm feeling pretty shitty for feeling pity.

That doesn't change the fact, though, that I'm sorry for the woman I know, and even Brick. I'm so very sorry. I feel, sorrow that she has to have a specific number pop up on her scale to feel good enough about herself to break out the bikini. I am sorry that she has to have that number in order to be pleased with herself, physically.

I'm sorry she needs that number to be enough-enough in and of herself. I'm sorry her daemons are winning.

Same with Brick of the "Don't hate my because I'm beautiful" Pantene shampoo variety.

I am so sorry that your inner knight isn't fighting harder against those daemons of self-doubt and self-hatred. I am so sorry that your inner knight isn't able to defeat those daemons of the "society says" kind; that you can't defeat those daemons that tell you that you're not pretty, thin, smart, perfect enough. I'm so, so sorry.

At the same time, I'm pissed off! How dare you give in like that! Who do you think you are, giving up on yourself!?! What the fuck is wrong with you, and everyone like you?!

Get up! Fight back! Don't let them win!

Because if you give up, they've won. And that little thread of women-ness is broken. That little line of sisterhood is gone, because you've gone over to the patriarchy and are helping shovel that hatred back at us. If you give up, and let your inner daemons win, you're making damned sure you're never going to love yourself, and you're making it hard for us to love you, the way you deserve

It's hard to love someone who hates the person they are inside and out. It's really hard to respect that kind of person, too, if they don't respect themselves. But then, not everyone out there realises their daemons; and not everyone fights them. Some people just figure "this is the way it is", and have swallowed the entire fishing rod of societal disdain for being different.

If nothing else, I'll fight back in your name. My knight is tired, and depressed, and worn out, but we'll fight back. I can't give up, because if I do people like my mother win, people who have told me my entire life that because I'm not petite I'm not OK, because I'm not just like them, I'm wrong. I'll fight back, tears streaming down my face as I call out my own inner daemons and cast them away like discarded rags. Because it's so hard sometimes, so god-damned hard.

It's hard to admit to yourself and others that you feel fat, and ugly and stupid and worthless. It's hard to admit that there are days you hate yourself. It's hard to admit, that I'm only half the person I wish I was, and I hate myself for that on days like this week. It's harder to admit that even if I do beat down the daemons of self-loathing they'll resurrect and we can do this all over again in a few weeks or months. That's probably why so many people give up, swallow the line and live in the little box of "dieting to be thin enough, surgery to be busty/thin/sexy enough, 'roids to be muscular enough but I'll still hate myself".

But dammit, I'm not worthless. I am a human being, a woman, strong and smart and wonderful. I am worthy. I'm worth something! I have Worth! My worth isn't based on the scale, or the shape of my hourglass; it's not based on my looks, or my crooked smile. It's not based on anything tangible, but the intangible: how do I treat people? Do I love? Can I be self-less, care about others? Do I empathise?

So are you.

*I disagree that it is bullying to call someone our on their lack of self-awareness-- no more than it's bullying to tell someone "knock that shit off!" when they do something stupid, or nasty, or generally moronic. That's not bullying, it's part of being in society-- people are always going to call you out on  your shit.

**There are several people I know, and call friends, male and female who do this. It's never an "everything I do, praise me" deal-- but for some, it's almost everything. I am irritated to no end by this, and tend to ignore their compliment seeking. If you're someone who does that, I would tell you, get some therapy. You are whole in yourself, and don't need me telling you how awesome you are. You already know you're awesome. And honestly, if you're not awesome, but a complete enema-bag, then the therapy will help you become awesome. I'd also tell you, that the reason you're not getting the compliments you seek, is because you're seeking them. Humans tend to avoid praising someone who's demanding it-- we're converse like that.


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