Sometimes I think the most subversive thing you can do as a woman is to just be OK with who you are.
I KNOW, I KNOW, that sounds so barfy and faux-feministy. I hate anything that smacks of privileged women whining about our world.
Because of all the people who have legitimate beefs with Society, I’m not one of them. I should be talking about flex time and affordable child care. But I am going somewhere with this!
I am going to an anecdote.
As many women have said before me (and I think Tina Fey explicitly makes this point in her book)—If there’s one message I’ve absorbed over the years, it’s that there are Things Wrong With My Looks and I Need To Fix Them.
For example: I’m too pale, my teeth aren’t white enough, my nail beds are too short, my hips are too narrow, my shoulders too broad, and my skin tone isn’t even.
Oh, and to top it all off, I AM AGING!!!
Naturally, I expect to be reminded of this from advertising, TV, media-in-general, from conversations with other women hating on themselves, etc. I do not expect to hear this from my doctor. As in MD.
Recently I went for what I thought was a routine procedure, to get checked for skin cancer. I come from a long line of fair-skinned Irish folks, I grew up swimming four hours a day in Southern California’s outdoor pools, and I thought I should do the responsible thing.
When I explained to my doctor why I was there, this doctor began suggesting treatments that could help me, like a $1,000 laser peel to ensure that my chest and shoulders were all the same color tone. Apparently, after three days, all my skin (and freckles) would “fall off.”
Somehow I’d made it to age 34 and managed to earn a college degree, but had no idea that I was walking around life with an ugly, non-uniform decollete. What a fool!
My doctor also gave me the opportunity to fix the lines forming around my eyes, my broken capillaries, and to buy a new line of MD makeup. Keep in mind I was very clear about why I was there: cancer.
It’s odd to realize that your doctor is not necessarily giving a shit about your health and is either (1) under a tremendous amount of pressure to pay NYC rent; or (2) has been so conditioned by other customers to assume that we all want to “fix” ourselves.
It’s further odd to realize that, in addition to having to tune out messages from media, we gals also need to tune out (certain) doctors.
And this brings me back to my original theory….
It’s quite powerful to be Ok with how you look, because so few of us do it. Certainly this is not happening in the media. Celebs are the worst—they normalize every fight against aging and raise (lower?) the collective bar toward a different ideal. (I think that’s partly why I’m obsessed with women like Lena Dunham and Tilda Swinton who say no thanks to all that. And they are considered like, radical.)
And fine, maybe being OK with yourself is not the most subversive thing you can do, but it’s mighty underrated.
I swear to you that when I was single, there was an inverse relationship between the amount of time I spent getting ready and the amount of attraction I received.