Monday, February 05, 2007

The eyes that look at me

I've sort of been mulling this post around for a long time, but its still not so firm. If it sucks as a I try to think it to words, I'm sorry, but it seems to be time. (Obligatory disclaimer...this post is not about Mr. Eyes, though he is present in some of it.)

About a week ago, I stumbled out into the laundry room with my pajamas (no, not sexy pajamas, more like your mother's pajamas gone yoga) as it was later than I usually let other humans see me. My mass of hair was down and I had a wool hat on. My mass of hair is never down. I like it, but well, there's too much of it for me to do anything other than get it out of my way when its down. So as I stumbled out, I ran into the guy that lives across the hall (old and harmless as far as I know) and Mr. Eyes. Old Neighbor does about 7 double takes before he says, "I've never you seen you with your hair down...."

"Like the big messy pile of blond of that it is?" I ask.

" Marylin Monroe," he responds with all sincerity.

Marylin Monroe? Did I hear that correctly?? I would've been more able to beleive...uh...Marilyn Manson....Marylin, my first love's evil mother, though she has short dark hair. Anybody. I would've believed ANYONE more than that. It was one of those awkward moments that makes me feel like a stupid teenager again, when any compliment leaves me dumbfounded and self-deprecating. Even now, I feel the burning urge to make you understand that I, IN NO WAY, look like Marylin Monroe.

Later on, I tried to accept it for what it was. Wow, for a moment, some weirdo thought I looked like Marylin Monroe. There's a first. And probably a last.

The comment and my gut response to it has left my continually uncomfortable. And guess what? That uncomfort? MAKES ME EVEN MORE UNCOMFORTABLE. Man, life is really a bitch.

And, to make things even more weird, its not like its the only over the top protestation of my looks lately. N did it. Mr. Eyes does it. Even my yarn store friend does it. Using that dreaded "B" word.

Listen, I am not the "B" word. (Well, I am A "B" word, but that word we use freely on this blog.) I've spent the good part of 30 years making myself understand that I'm not a ghoul, that I am in fact, like Burt's drawings in Mary Poppins, better than a finger in your eye. It's a big step. But that it where it ends. We shall not venture in the the areas known as "B". I am comfortable being better than a finger in your eye. It makes me feel like my self-image is realistic and manageable. I don't want to be "B", I don't want to be chasing "B", I don't even want to consider "B" because it instantly makes me feel like I'm allowing objectification, of myself, of all women. It makes me queasy. It makes me remember the days, very clearly, when I felt horribly ugly, or at best, completely invisible to other people. I don't want to think about how I look, I don't want it to be of any concern.

But then I have to wonder, do I try to make my looks unimportant because I've spent most of my life feeling very sub-par in the "B" department? Am I just masquerading my self-loathing-concept as a virtuous lack of vanity?

I mean, let's be honest, YOU KNOW I get off on it. I KNOW I get off on it. People get off on being told they are the "B" word, just like the Pillsbury doughboy gets off on tubes of refrigerated dough....and that's some hard getting off. Even when you try not to, even when you don't want to, it still makes you smile.

I still look the basically the same as when I felt that I was worse than a finger in the eye. But when some people look at me, they see or say "B". And I'm stumped.

In an unrelated conversation, Mr. Eyes used the phrase, "I'll be your mirror." And all I could think was "Wow, wouldn't it be weird if my mirror was always telling me that I was beautiful."

My mirror certainly doesn't say that now. It's been trained. It says "Eh, you're better than a finger in the eye. Except for Wednesday when that festering cesspool you called a zit made you a whole lot worse than a finger in the eye."

But what if my mirror was trained to say the "B" word. I wonder who I would be then?

Would I be vain? Would I be self-assured? Would I be worried about getting old? Or would I still laugh in that mirror's face, knowing too well that the remnants of the ugly teenager lay inside? "B" will never stop making me queasy.



Anonymous heide said...

We're all our own worse critics. Now, I've never seen what you look like physically, but you seem like a right funny and smart kind of gal over the internet. And I'm sure if your personality shows through in you that you are indeed beautiful. You must learn to graciously accept praise with a simple, but sincere "Thank you". This will be a great example for little A because it shows that you are comfortable enough with yourself to receive a compliment without questioning whether or not you think you're worthy of said compliment. Now I want to see a picture of your big hair.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute post. You already know how I feel so *sticks out his tongue at her*. Be happy with the compliments, especially if your putting minimal to no work into it. That isn't selling out, that's just you my dear. :)

8:30 AM  
Blogger V said...

Haha Heide...I try that, but it makes me feel very insincere considering what is really going on in my head. hair isn't really that scary 80's sense. There's just a LOT of it and its long.

Thanks anon. And congratulations. ;)

8:59 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Why does bloglines hate you so?! :(

I could really relate to a lot of your post. I've never felt particularly attractive, always stuck in the ugly duckling pre-teen mode. So when someone compliments me on my looks, I seem to be more susceptible to their wiles...

Of course, the phrase "I'll be your mirror" reminded me of the VU song of the same name. :)

11:12 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I swear they need to start teaching a class in high school about how to accept a compliment gracefully. I have the exact same issues that you do, and I don't really know why.

11:49 AM  
Blogger SO said...

I could pull up every picture I have of you from Mel's wedding and everyone who would see it would say that you are very beautiful!!

But I totally know what you are saying.....TOTALLY.

Hey, Wayne played out Saturday. I'll have to email you the pics!! And hopefully I'll have video soon.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

*Snort* My head was doing loops with all the "b words" talk. I don't know what you look like darlin'... But I think you're beautiful. For what it's worth. ;)

5:47 PM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Call me clueless, but I kept thinking "b...b....WHAT bad b word???"....took me til the end. I think we can all go to that place, too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, big nose, tiny nose, on and on and on. I've come to understand that I am attractive to some people, really ugly to others, and shocked by what I look like when I see video of myself. GADS, I have no chin! Some people see our physical self, and some see something in us. I think the best response to the neighbor's type of remark is (1) humor, "oh yeah, she looked just like this in her old pj's", (2) grace, "why thank you", (3) grace followed by slight disbelief in his sanity, "why thank you, glad you see me that way". Oh, hon, you ARE beautiful. And A sees that and wants to be like you. And you want her to feel beautiful. And comfortable with herself.

8:30 PM  
Blogger knitnzu said...

Hey, I saw this on my bureau this morning, and thought you should see it too. It was on a birthday card from maybe 11 years ago!

"It is important to honor our beginnings, to remember that we matter and that we have a place in this world that no one else has."

I'll find that poem my grandmother sent (she didn't write it) and send it to you next time I'm on the computer. It's on some wall around here!

6:54 PM  
Blogger knitnzu said...

ok, here's the other poem,

May the world
hug today
with its warmth and love
amd whisper a joyful tune
in your heart
and may the wind
carry a voice
that tells you
there is a friend
sitting in another corner of the world
right now
wishing you well.

By Donna Abate, sent to me by my grandmother (in 1991!!)

Just so ya know, we're all wishing you well!-Lisa

2:21 PM  
Blogger knitnzu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Thought provoking stuff.
I think coming to terms with the way we look on the outside, whether it be good bad or indifferent, is often one of the most difficult challenges for most women.
Those who do not seek conventional outward beauty always seem more lovely, appealing and interesting to me. So I guess I see what you mean about not wanting to be called beautiful.
Personally, I would much rather someone tell me how beautiful I am on the inside. It's the thing I struggle with the most.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I get what you are saying. I struggle with the same things. I have this vision of what I look like, and I'm uncomfortable if people tell me something that doesn't jibe with my internal view. As a result, I don't accept compliments well. Though I like to hear them, I don't believe them.

As for you -- I don't know what you look like, but you are a beautiful person inside. That certainly comes out in your writing.

6:21 PM  
Blogger CynCyn said...

girl. the internal dialogue we hold with ourselves are brutal, and it's unfortunate that we're not that nice to ourselves. I too, am much more comfortable being called the "B**ch" word than the nice B word.

12:57 AM  
Blogger JayneSays said...

Own it, gorgeous. I know what you're going through a bit (especially having waded through far too much feminist theory for my own good - the male gaze, beauty myth et al, etc. ad nauseum) . . . but there comes a point where we can recognize that true beauty and radiance are real, and the light really does come from within.

I'm not talking about a phony, butchered, sick, prepubescent, hyper-sexualized, starved, confined 'beauty' image . . . but the real deal. Innocent, perfect, captivating, like a flower, a cloud, a sunset. Why not own that is you? Dare you ; )

ps - still feigning it at that other blog for now

11:22 PM  

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