The Obvious

hello again, self-hater

Posted in me myself, ugliness by theobvious on May 20, 2009

This season they’re wearing skinny faded-gray jeans with wide, flowing tops. A very hate-provoking combination, seeing as skinny jeans make me look like a walking ham (nobody likes gray ham), and flowing tops on me either become figure-hugging (healthy full figure it is, huggable indeed) or resemble a sack underneath which things are happening. I am sitting in a cafe downtown and pretending to be working on my term paper on pejorative nouns in Polish dialects. Instead, I find myself applying those nouns to every girl in a dress and leggings that walks past me.

Umberto Eco had a reason to write his On Ugliness to go with his earlier work, On Beauty. These two do indeed always go together. Just look at more or less any group of girls in the street. I always feel like the one who is there to reflect the others’ beauty. The gargoyle against the breathtaking Gothic spire. The one who dressed in what was on the floor in the morning in a surge of what’s-the-use-trying self-pity.  To be honest, self-pity is a big part of my day. It has its own drawer in the office, so to speak.

The only people who have ever thought me beautiful were either married or directly related to me. My first love used to tell me I was pretty, but feigned surprise when a belt he’d pick up would fit around my waist. ‘Why, you are slender enough! Why do you look so chubby then?’ Those were the days when I was actually much slimmer than today for virtue of being sixteen. In the two following years, during our difficult long-distance relationship, I grew many a protective layer. When we met again in person, ‘You did gain weight’ were his greeting words. Of course, it’s not just the weight, rather, weight is the vanguard of all the things that are wrong, easiest to pick on.

The rest of the world’s population usually pick their words more carefully, all said with love, with the political correctness of today’s world, so full of deformity that it is becoming the new form, and everyone avoids speaking up on pretty much any topic. ‘This shirt looks lovely on you!’, ‘New haircut?’, or even, ‘You look so cute with that puppy fat!’ — a very recent addition to my collection of things that stopped being funny when I reached the age of 20. Or, to circumvent the topic of beauty altogether, ‘How clever!’, ‘What nice photos you take!’ —

I do try to take nice photos, craving beauty like the monster who lives in a dark pit craves light and warmth, devouring soft creatures who wander into its trap in the hope of absorbing some of their vitality and having it reflect on its own hideous scales. (Beauty as a priority is only superficial in those who possess it in plenty, much like food and money.) I also like to write greatly exaggerated self-deprecating blog posts which to read later, when the wave of hopelessness is on the decline, chuckling. ‘It’s not that bad. It’s not what others say, it’s what you feel. Don’t you feel good about your nose? Your ears? Prime stuff, those.’


5 Responses

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  1. At said, on May 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    “The only people who have ever thought me beautiful were either married or directly related to me. ” — harsh and untrue, I must say. I did and still do :) even though I haven’t seen you in such a long time, which, by the way, is a great shame.

    Funny, only a couple of hours ago I was thinking about what it is that gives humanity its aesthetic inclinations, why is it that we prefer to build beautiful buildings, for example, rather than simply functional (they tried that in the 60’s, and look where that got us, but even then they thought they were creating aesthetic objects). It is obvious (to me, at any rate), that aesthetically pleasing objects are better than simply functional ones, but I’m curious as to why that is. Any thoughts?

  2. ollka said, on May 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Well, to begin with I think it’s because we look at things as multi-functional. The purpose of a building is not only to give shelter, but also to form a landscape. The purpose of a garment is not only to protect the skin, but also to form the outer shape of the body. The purpose of a woman is not only to produce children and dinner, but also to appear on wedding photos. Et cetera, ad absurdum.

    Because visual contact is the most universal and impersonal form of contact (it is possible from farthest away and requires no additional effort), we tend to attach importance to what we see, and to have it be pleasing to the eye means to live a life of less irritation. I think this is part of the reason why humans seek beauty.

    As for us not having met in a while, well, would you be interested in coming to Ukraine in August? Just a suggestion (which I might regret, given the first part of your comment:)).

  3. ollka said, on May 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Damn, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to be inappropriate! All I meant was, meeting after a while, you might reconsider the nice words you said. Once again, sorry.

  4. anniewhere said, on May 24, 2009 at 12:31 am

    know what? you might kick me for this silly advice, but i think you should take more photos of your own self.

    and sometimes try out things you thought you’d never wear.

    believe me, i do know how much of this self-hate is IN the head. Too bad I don’t know how to react to my friends’ self-hate speech to really make them feel better.

  5. At said, on May 25, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Nah, you weren’t inappropriate, I just thought WordPress’d tell me when you replied, which it didn’t. I wouldn’t be able to go to Ukraine, though.

    I’d have to think a bit more about your reply, I don’t necessarily agree with all that you said :)

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