So Pretty & Ugly

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So Pretty & Ugly
Single and Running From Reflections
Cut by: Davita Cuttita

“Misery is a Butterfly.”

Blonde Redhead

This one’s for all of you ladies out there who think that looking a certain way is the only thing that will make your life better or you better as a person.

This one’s for all you ladies who are tired of having those days where you feel like you can’t win, like you have to be something more than you are or something that you aren’t.

I’m with you.

Lately, I’ve decided to take a break from the relationship scene. I haven’t even been dating for a year yet as I just started for the first time in late January of this year but it was kind of A LOT all at once, especially for a person like me that’s spent their entire life to themselves. I’ve always been more inclined to spend time eating hamburgers on strange sidewalks at 2AM with friends or off in a corner, reading a book. I will admit that I’m pretty naive about a lot of relationship and/or sexual things that other girls in my age group (or younger) may be far more familiar with.

People are always telling me how pretty I am, which means a lot from people I care about and kind strangers.

However, not all people are so gracious expressing this opting for sexual harrassment instead.

Sometimes I imagine how great it would be to grow old. To get white hair, crows feet, liver spots and wrinkles. To put on an extra couple of pounds. I think about it and a part of me feels happy; happy that I’ve grown old in a world rife with disease and happy that I will finally receive a form of genuine respect. I wrote a poem about it in French on the bus, once.

Happy…

Sometimes I wish I could wear a paper bag over my head.

Sometimes I wish no one could see me; even if it was just for a day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for how I look nor do I hate myself.

I’m just tired.

I do not want to be treated like an object. End of story.

As I grew and my figure became more feminine, many men have made their opinions of my body and their sexual intentions known to me. Much of the time, quite publicly and rarely, quite explicitly (although the worst ones were always the secretive and discrete kind). Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indian, rich, poor, middle class, old, young—you get the picture. Sometimes I’m in the right place at the wrong time, other times I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most times, I’m just out running errands or enjoying the company of friends.

I have been pointed at, grabbed, groped, cat-called, hit on, followed by cars, run after, yelled at and honked at. I have also been through a whole lot of other kinds of sexual harassment I do not wish to discuss. Not just by strangers but by men who’ve said that they were my friends. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to run or jump into a vehicle just because I was going (grocery) shopping or out for a night with friends and some men have been unreasonably—and terrifyingly—persistent in their pursuit of me.

All this before I even kissed a boy for the first time, a month shy of my 21st birthday.

The harassment still continues…

It really doesn’t even matter what I wear. I’ve tried the baggy clothes thing for a while; it didn’t change anything.

My typical attire is straight leg jeans, running shoes and a t-shirt (no matter what season!) and occasionally, due to most jobs I’ve had; a business suit or other type of conservative uniform. I make it a point not to dress provocatively (What I consider provocative? Short skirts, dresses or shorts) because it’s just not my style but on the*extremely rare* occasion that I do, I still cover up whatever I can with leggings or whatever else will match my outfit; bring a jacket and spend as little time outside as possible.

There are a lot of “pretty” girls all over the planet. Some of them wholly embrace the status and its privilege, posing nude (or nearly nude) for magazines, some use their looks to take advantage of men or garner material items. Some of them enjoy being treated like an object. I don’t. Some pretty girls are famous entertainers, scholars or activists but most pretty girls just live average lives according to whatever average may be wherever they are in the world. However, all of the prettiest girls and women have an inner beauty and strength that is radiant.

I am a person.

I am a girl. I am a sister, I am an aunt, I am a cousin, I am a niece, I am a daughter, I am a granddaughter, and maybe; I might be a mother someday.

I go to University and I work a part-time job. I have interests, I have thoughts, I have ambition, I have goals, I have feelings, and I have a life.

It saddens me to think that some girls actively attempt to seek out this kind of lustful and disrespectful attention, equating it with genuine affection or think that “prettier” girls have it better than they do because of the excess attention and occasionally, better treatment they may receive because of it.

Even now as I reject men who ask me out, good and bad; I still have to defend myself against the same relentlessness and I’m pretty convinced that a quiet and humble “no thank you” counts for nothing these days. Why did I say no? Why can’t I just put my feelings aside and comply with what they want? Why can’t I just give them a chance? I know that it’s hard to handle rejection, so I try to be kind and explain.

I tell them I don’t have anything against them personally but at this point in time, I’ve been through a lot and really, I just need some time to let things sink in and recover. I don’t want to bring emotional baggage into a relationship and would rather take some time off by myself to get rid of it so I can make a better fresh start with someone new. They still don’t get it.

Why should I ever want to be alone? I’m pretty; I’m supposed to be with someone. I’m just supposed to, it’s the rules. It’s especially the rules for them. I’m never supposed to be alone—ever.

It’s hard. It’s hard that every time I tell someone I’m single, the response is “But you’re so pretty. What’s wrong, why aren’t you in a relationship? What’s wrong with you, are you just not interested or has the right person just not come along yet?” The comment comes from family, friends, doctors, teachers, bosses/co-workers and even perfect strangers.

Would they still say the same thing…if I didn’t look like this?

I’m not into, what I call, “bumblebee dating”. Some girls date a guy for a couple of months or even a year or more and when the relationship turns sour for one reason or another, they’re back on the bandwagon shortly afterwards. It becomes a never ending cycle of almost constant suitors and lovers one after the other.

I can’t do that. I don’t want to, either. I need to take some time to let things out, to calm down, relax and re-centre myself. Not all girls are looking for the same type of love or affection. Some girls are comfortable dating one man after another, others may like short-to-long term relationships but never consider life long commitment and some may enjoy one-night stands while others just want attention and for anything with a penis to make them feel as though they’re important, beautiful and wanted. None of that has ever appealed to me really.

None of the things I’ve mentioned are who I am or what I want.

I can tell you about what I do want, though.

This old woman who lives near me survived WWII; she’s a grandmother of an acquaintance of mine. She’d led a difficult life as the Nazis bombed her house, destroying everything and she had to sell her wedding ring to make bribe money so she could stow away in the bottom of a ship out of the country with her young son. Her husband went off to fight in the war and she waited in Canada alone with her son for seven years with nary a word from him, going for months and occasionally years at a time wondering if he was alive. He came home, they had more children and promised eachother that someday, to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they’d do something they always wanted to do but could never afford: they’d go on a cruise.

Her husband died of cancer two weeks before the ship set sail but she still went; alone—a promise is a promise.

The entire time she was on that ship watching the happy couples honeymoon, celebrate anniversaries or vacationing, she was alone. One day, she stood at the side of the ship, admiring the beauty and sunshine around her and said aloud, as if he were beside her:

“I miss you. It’s so beautiful here, I hope you can see it. I wish you were here.”

That is the kind of love I want. That is what I’m looking fornot just the sugary-sweet gushy stuff, but the kind of love that has a fighting, fierce burning passion to it; even after the person is long gone. The kind of love that takes courage to enjoy. A love like a battle scar.

As I write this, I know nothing will change.

I know that this kind of disrespect is, unfortunately; something normal that many, many young girls and women have to put up with on an almost daily basis; whether their appearances matches the “beauty standard” or not, for any reason; someone, somewhere will always have an opinion on your body (or what they want to do to it/what you should be doing with it) and even more unfortunately; most of those people really don’t care how they express that to you or where. Or even how you will feel afterwards.

Even more so, people are still going to tell women what they should be doing not only based on their bodies’ sexual attractiveness or lack thereof according to the “beauty” standard, but also based on a number of other issues; their race, class or perceived intelligence (just to name a few) and be further stereotyped.

Nothing is going to change this; ever.

But I will say no.

I will do what is right for me, so I can be better and do better— even if it means peace and quiet. I will say no and…

I will never force myself to submit to that standard of harm and displacement of my humanity.

Of my dreams. Of my potential love for another.

“I know a ghost will walk through walls…
If only I could walk through walls
Then maybe I would tell you who I was”

–“Falling Man,” Blonde Redhead

Beautiful image courtesy of my favourite German artist; Haida on .O00O I love her tons, check her out.

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~ by davitacuttita on December 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “So Pretty & Ugly”

  1. Awesome post. I lost a lot of weight in high school and suddenly had men following me around everywhere. At first I loved it because I’d never had a real convo with a guy much less been asked out. It got old…the hounding. I eventually tried to kill myself due to realizing how shallow folks were….how the inside of a person is so undervalued and the outside overvalued. That’s a bunch of crap. It is what is on the inside that is the real gift…always. Don’t know why folks…especially guys…can’t see that.

    You’d probably like the song Plastic Flowers by Erick Baker. It’s about the type of love you describe and want. Makes me blubber.

  2. Hello Kat, thanks for stopping by and reading.

    I know I don’t know you personally but let me say that I am happy you’re alive. The world is a tough place and the more nice people there are around, the better.

    Everytime I mention this kind of harassment, people give me bad looks as though I should be proud of it or enjoy it. Thank you for sharing your story, I am so glad someone understands.

    I am a major audiophile so thanks for the song reference! One of the most romantic songs ever to me (which I hope they play at my wedding; if I ever have one) is “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder. It makes me blush.

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