Monday, August 11, 2014

UnPretty (TLC)

This morning I was at the corner store getting my coffee. In New York City, everything moves kind of fast. Plus the dudes at my deli know me. They know what I want when I walk in the door. Usually, the way a New York Deli works though is that when one person is checking out, the other person orders. Things tend to move quickly in the city that never sleeps.

At the counter is this woman I mean she is a big girl. She looks like the type who lives in an SRO with her six cats because no one has ever loved her. Meanwhile I rolled out of bed. I don't look so great myself. I don't think anything of her. It's New York. We get everyone. So she turns to me, and has this huge growth on her face with hair coming out of it. She looks like a witch crawled out of a Brother's Grimm Fairy Tale. Her teeth resemble more fangs than teeth of course. So she turns to me and this is how the interaction goes:

Woman: Could you wait a second until I get out of here? I know I am fat and ugly but let me finish.

Me: I'm sorry.

Woman: I know they would much rather deal with you because you're a pretty girl.

Me: I am sure that's not true.

Woman: Oh honey, we both know it is. I weigh 300 pounds.

Then she takes her jars of cat food (I was right) box of donuts (like her crazy ass needed those) and off she went. Mohammed, the guy behind the counter, and I exchanged a WTF look as she left. Yeah, the bitch was crazy. There was no arguing with her. I was stunned. Part of me wanted to inform this beast no one made her 300 pounds. It was the shitload of donuts and ice cream she was eating. Maybe she could motivate herself to spend less time with her cats and go to the gym. Also, these days you didnt have to be forced to have a witch growth on your face. Most Obamacare plans cover basic dermatology. Even if she didn't know they did, she could pay a rat a quarter to gnaw that thing off her face. Hey, John Candy's suggestion not mine.

Of course it was funny to me that she thought my life was easy, and people just wanted to wait on me hand and foot. It was hysterical to assume I have always been the weight that I am at. As a high school student I struggled with my weight. Then I had a mini thyroid problem as a teenager. It was hell, the fat girl jokes. I know how it is to walk around in that skin and be the hopeless butt of everyone's jokes. Moreover, I remember the preferential treatment some of the size 2 pretty girls got, and I was always left out of the loop. Dudes talked to me to get answers on English and history homework. And when they did ask me out, it was a joke. My mom says keep it on the down low that I was fat, ugly, had braces with rubber bands, and cystic acne. Truth is, I am not. I need to remind myself of how bad life used to be, but also to let people know that it can and does get better.

Then I recalled a passage in Burn Down the Ground by author and award winning storyteller Kambri Crews. Burn Down the Ground details her childhood being raised in the woods by two deaf parents, and at times having to steal water, etc. After years of living in the woods, Kambri's family abandons their wildling existence mostly because their finances improve, and move to suburbia. Anyway, the crush of a popular girl likes her. So in retaliation, the popular girl, who is a teacher helper and grades papers, crosses out her name and writes Bambi instead. Kambri points out to her this was ironic and funny on so many levels because only months before she had lived in the woods with no proper electricity or running water and was forced to wear a crew cut. Oh perception.

While the whole thing made me laugh in a way, it also pissed me off. How dare you claim to know me lady? I have been through some shit in my life. Yes, I have had some things happen to me that I would not wish on my worst enemy. There have been periods in my life where I have rented property in the Valley of the Shadow of Death beachside because I knew I was going to be there a while. Some of the events on my life's timeline read like a horror show. If you think the ride has been easy, you are wrong. There has been enough self-loathing and then some that could sink the Titanic for efficiently than an iceberg. Seriously bitch. Fuck you. Some of what I have been through would probably kill you.

Then I remembered the words of someone to me once. "When you see someone behaving in a way that is rotten, it's a lesson in how you don't want to be."

However, it also made me think that humility is not thinking less of oneself, but oneself less. She probably has mental health issues, and those carry a stigma that makes a sufferer avoid getting treatment. She probably has compulsive over eating disorder, which is an addiction. The sufferer can't stop and their health suffers. Their world revolves around food at the exclusion of all things else. Not to mention her physical health is a mess and her self-esteem is shit. So like all addicts she blames everyone else for her problems and doesn't see her role, therefore she doesn't change her circumstances because she cant. That is when I actually started to feel sorry for her.

Then it made me realize beauty was not about weight. It's about personality. In my high school, my older brother Wendell went to school with a bigger girl named Katrina. Katrina was Student Government President, on homecoming court, and was the star of the school play. Everyone liked her. She was on the "A" list because she was a good person with an even better sense of humor. Later, she lost weight because she had a Type II diabetes scare. However, she still retained her awesome personality and we loved her regardless. In addition to Katrina, I have met other big girls who have been able to rock it out, get a guy, and enjoy life to the fullest.

I have also met skinny bitches who were just bitches, judgmental to the "T." These women who for the most part were marginal looking at best gossiped about their friends, complained about fat that was not there, and demanded their boyfriends and husbands made them the center of the universe. Once, I was forced to spend time with these mean girls when promo jobs paid my rent. Being thin and "good looking" was their meal ticket, and they enjoyed making snide remarks about others. I was glad to get away from them. Glad to get air. Glad to be away from such ugly people.

Of course, when someone is nasty, even if they are pretty at one point, they still become ugly. A mean girl I went to high school with did not age well. Same with a football player heart throb who wasn't so nice to a lot of people either. Even if you upkeep all day, if what is underneath is rotten, eventually it breaks out and shows up physically in ways you could never imagine.

I still remember brunching with friends and seeing a big girl dancing as she crossed the cross walk. She had her headphones in and her ipod on. We all agreed it was amazing and wanted to go join her. It was a gentle reminder that pretty and ugly is not about weight or shape. Yeah, there is a fashion and makeup component. But more than anything, it is about heart and soul. Just as pretty can come in all forms, so can ugly.

Don't let an ugly person ruin your day


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