A friend posted a link to Margaret Cho's website today with the following quote - "Being called ugly and fat and disgusting to look at from the time I could barely understand what the words meant has scarred me so deep inside that I have learned to hunt, stalk, claim, own and defend my own .... and my image of myself as stunningly gorgeous with a ruthlessness and a defensiveness that I fear for anyone who casually or jokingly questions it, as my anger and rage combined with my intense and fearsome command of words create insults meant to maim, kill and destroy."
I like Margaret Cho, I think she is hilarious and I think she is pretty fucking fierce and awesome and all sorts of other great words. So I clicked the link and read it through and... no, you should read this yourself. Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back --http://www.margaretcho.com/content/2012/01/11/being-mad-on-twitter/
are you teary eyed at all? Because I was. This hurt to read, it hit home and reminds me of so many things that I have tried to forget and bury deep inside me. One line that really struck me was “all I am trying to say is that no young girl should be told she is ugly. If she is, you kill her spirit, and she may grow up like me, and lose a fan.”
I don’t think my family ever said that I was ugly. But lots and lots of other people did. Growing up I got called fat, ugly, stupid, slow and so many other names so many times over the years that instead of becoming hard like Ms. Cho did, I got scared. I got desperate. I would do anything to get people to like me and to try and prove to myself that I was loveable and that I wasn’t some fat, hideous, stupid beast that belonged in a cage somewhere. I remember many times as a child having people pretend to be my friend in order to play elaborate practical jokes on me including the old favorite of the imaginary secret admirer. I remember having people who I thought were my friends take some of my prized possessions like my favorite Barbie or my favorite book at the time and destroy it in front of me all the while telling me how they couldn’t ever really be my friend because I was far too fat and ugly and stupid for anyone to actually like. I remember in Junior high the girls who would jog behind me in gym class and talk loudly about the stretch marks behind my legs as they would take turns examining each other to make sure they didn’t have anything so hideous and disgusting on their body. I remember walking the block to gym class in high school talking to a friend and having a total stranger say “shut the fuck up you fat bitch” I remember the Halloween when my grandfather grew a huge pumpkin and I proudly carved and displayed it on our front porch only to have 3 boys from my class come by and smash it all over our porch and having them crow loudly about how awesome it was for weeks after. I remember the first boy I ever kissed in 9th grade who I later found out did it on a bet.
I remember all of these things and yet I don’t hang onto them like I used to. Growing up, whenever these things happened to me, I wasn’t hard, I wasn’t defiant, I cried into my pillow and tried to find ways to make myself better so people would like me. I’d come home in tears and my mom would tell me to be tougher, tell me not to show how much it hurt because I was only feeding them and giving them what they wanted but I couldn’t seem to stop the tears. I thought that if I tried to be like everyone else maybe I’d have friends, maybe people wouldn’t call me fat anymore. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like killing myself every single day. Maybe. I tried so hard, I changed my opinions based on who I was hanging out with, I tried to dress like my friends, I tried to pretend that when they would make jokes about my bad haircuts, my height, my weight, my boobs that it was funny to me “hahah yah I know look how fat I am, it’s so hilarious”
Don’t get me wrong, I had some real friends. A couple of whom I still talk to, both from junior high and high school. There were several people who were genuinely good friends to me and that I know I can still go to if I should need them. Once I got out of school and was on my own I finally achieved a sort of freedom. People were no longer outwardly cruel to me. I started to gain some measure of self confidence but I still continued to nurse that hurt little girl inside who always felt unloved and ugly. The little girl who suspected everyone’s motives when it came to friendship. I never dared hope that anyone could ever love me or even be attracted to me. I went through the motions of going to work, going to the Coffee Shop where I spent the majority of my free time, of attempting to make friends without anyone actually knowing me or how I felt.
That all changed in 1997. I remember the way if not the moment. I met someone as damaged, as vulnerable and as scared as I was. Someone else who felt like an alien in his skin. Someone who actually listened when I talked, told me I was beautiful (or as he wrote it beautyful) and actually seemed sincere, someone who shared his deepest, darkest secrets with me, trusted me completely and that made me feel for the first time in my whole life that I could be loved for who I really am, not who people wanted me to be. He taught me so much and he changed my world. I can look back now and see this. Back then, in that moment when we got the call that he was dead I thought “well that’s that. No one will ever love me again, I’ll never be good enough for anyone else, he was the only one who could ever love someone as eminently unlovable and ugly as I am” at 19 I gave up on life. Gave up on caring. Gave up on myself.
Here is the funny part. Once I gave up, I started to grow, to let go. I started to learn about myself, who I really was. I’d never really thought about what would actually make me happy. About the fact that I’m actually a pretty awesome person. This process has been slow and occasionally incredibly painful but now, finally at 33 years old I’m comfortable with myself. The final turn of the bend came around 30 when all of a sudden I realized “I’m a fucking adult for christs sake, why should I care what some asshole kid said about me 20 years ago? Why should I care about what some asshole thinks about me now?” There still a learning curve, I still get hurt over silly things people say but I don’t hang onto it anymore. I don’t hand it to that hurt little girl inside anymore. I release it into the wild where those kinds of thoughts deserve to die.
Here I am finally a grown person who has come to realize that I’m not ugly or stupid. I’m fucking awesome and hot and have a great rack and snarky personality that some people genuinely enjoy and that doesn’t suffer the assholes any longer. Fuck those people.
I’m fucking awesome and I know it and my opinion is the only one that matters.