Opinion

Perceptions of Beauty

I went to Target on Saturday to pick up a few necessities. As usual, something I definitely didn’t need caught my attention, so I stopped to check it out. I stood at the edge of the main aisle across from an endcap on a beauty aisle featuring the above picture of two models.

After a moment, a man who was walking quickly down the aisle jerked to a stop with his young son (maybe 9 or 10 years old). “See, now that is just too much,” the father said while pointing at the picture. He went on to explain how ugly freckles were, especially on women of color (he was a man of color himself). While dad ranted, the child wore a confused expression. He looked from the picture to his dad several times. His face went from confused to clear disagreement. Then he turned and saw me.

The boy stared at my face and then my arms, both of which are covered with tons of freckles. He smiled. A real smile. He turned back to his father, who was still ranting, and shook his head before both went on their way. The jerk never saw me.

I may or may not have blurted out a not very nice word. If I did do such a thing, it wasn’t particularly loud, and I hope the kid didn’t hear me. Hypothetically, of course!

First, let me say I think the model he was bashing is gorgeous. As I have more freckles than her, I’m biased but no one puts ‘ugly’ models on their endcap pictures for crying out loud!

That man is probably judged every day for the color of his skin and one would think he would understand what it’s like. Yet he tried to teach his child that different was bad. He spent thirty seconds pointing out perceived flaws for no good reason. He used the word ugly, repeatedly. This guy made a big deal out of passing on his own bias to his child.

I’m pretty sure the kid thought he was an idiot, but who knows. The little boy may forever after this think freckles are gross. Or maybe dad accidentally cemented in the child’s mind that it’s okay to disagree.

Everyone has different opinions on beauty. My husband adores my freckles but I’ve had people hate them. When I was a teenager, a boy in my psychology class told me I’d be hot if it wasn’t for all my ‘spots.’

I’ve seen women look at me like I’m going to steal their man while their husbands look at me in disgust.

The model in the photo? She’s probably been through as much as me, if not more. Of course, I hope she thinks about all the disapproving people and laughs when she cashes each check she gets because of her awesome, unique looks.

No one has to find me attractive. Anyone who hates freckles is welcome to their opinion. However, it’s pretty awful to announce those thoughts in public and to push them on others.

The man in Target never saw me. All his focus was on insulting the model. What if I was still an insecure teenager or a little girl with freckles standing there hearing his bile? Hell, all those years ago, I would have been devastated. I outgrew any self-consciousness about my skin long ago, so he didn’t hurt me. He did, however, piss me off.

He made me angry for all those people who he could have hurt. He outraged me on behalf of everyone he’s ever insulted or ever will over how they look. He disgusted ME with his lack of parenting skills on this issue and his need to teach his son to dislike a specific type of people.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

That statement seems a little trite and overused these days, but it’s so true. I think freckles are cute. You might think they look like a disease. I cried the day I realized my hair is growing in more blonde than red, but perhaps you bleach your hair because you adore it so light. Someone might love long hair while my husband and I like my hair shorter. All of these things are okay.

I’m not going to walk up to a woman with long blonde hair and tell her I don’t like how she looks. This is a terrible example because I don’t think long blonde hair looks bad, but you get the point.

I want to add that I’m proud of the girl in the picture for not hiding her freckles. I’m impressed that the little boy didn’t automatically agree with his father. Beauty is what you think it is, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. And if you look different than everyone else around you, learn to use words like distinct, unique, and special about yourself. Don’t listen to narrowminded people, ever.

As for the guy in Target, when I hypothetically called you a dickface, I meant it.


I took the picture of the giant endcap photo/ad in Target. That photo/ad does not belong to me.

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! (A Saturday Rant)

I’m so frustrated! It’s hard to put into words, and you all know how I am, that means a LOT of words will follow.

Everyone I know would probably agree that I’m one their biggest cheerleaders. I’m mostly around writers, and I’m a strong believer of encouraging these other pen monkeys. I want them all to succeed. I try to make them feel like they are worth something.

I spent too many years with a foot on my neck being told subtly and not so subtly that I shouldn’t write, that I wasn’t good enough. That it wasn’t something, I should take seriously. Or that I would never succeed. Those people in my life eroded my confidence, exploited my fears, and generally frakked me up mentally. You can see why I don’t want others to fall victim to this.

So, I made it a practice to encourage other writers. To make them feel welcome among the various groups I’ve been a part of. To show them they are good enough. To make them feel a part of something important. Or more accurately, that they have the right to be a part of it.

I did this to the exclusion of myself.

Now, (actually for months) the writing group I go to is in the process of destroying itself. The group as a whole seems to be less important than Marsha ONE, Marsha TWO, Marsha THREE and so on. (This may sound minor but it is not. The details don’t matter here as I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Each Marsha is so wrapped up in themselves or is busy being snide to each other, they don’t even see the Kristi’s of the group are suffering from the fallout.

I really want to indulge in some constructive selfishness, but I’m the only one in the group not allowed to do so. I’ve learned the hard way, if I, who is expected to stay in my role as cheerleader, express an opinion, I’ll lose friends or at least offend everyone for calling them out. Or I’ll be the final straw that breaks the group. Dammit ONE, TWO, and THREE, cut your shit!

The last time I said how I felt everyone acted like I’d grown horns then screamed it over a global intercom and shook my demon finger in their faces. No one could believe I had feelings other than encouragement for Them.

The other response is denial. It’s quite frustrating when someone tries to convince you your feelings are not legitimate because they refuse to see the problem. Pretending there is no issue doesn’t absolve one from being part of it Marsha.

Hell, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the outside for so long I don’t know what I would do if that changed. I know other people have felt this way, but that only meant they didn’t notice I’ve been going through it. So I keep my mouth shut about me and cheer-lead them. It’s strange to try to convince someone to not listen to those inner doubts when the same fears float around the top of my head.

I’m left with a new dilemma. Say something or stay home. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep going and keep repressing and keep getting angry. Then option two will bubble up, and I’ll have to spend all my time fixing all the Marshas’ hurt feelings at my audacity for having feelings!

Like most rants, this one rambles around and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to those reading it. However, getting the words out, especially on ‘paper’ helps me more than I can say.


 

Apparently I’m Unattractive, Unless I Buy This Product…

The world is changing and some people are having trouble keeping up and/or changing with it. I don’t get offended very often by sexism, stupid comments or ignorance. I just shake my head and move on. Today however I actually reacted. I wasn’t exactly pissed off, it was more like “seriously?”

There was a suggested post on my Facebook for some product that will make you grow/regrow long luxurious hair quickly.  I was a little confused why I was targeted for such an ad since I cut my hair off this year (probably asked and answered). I haven’t looked up anything to do with long hair or hair products of any type, plus I don’t experience hair loss (the ad does not really target this, it barely mentions hair loss). Normally I ignore ads on FB unless they are writing related but this one grabbed my attention.

BS

Really? I had an irritated moment. I immediately thought “I don’t give a shit what 93% of men prefer.” Then I laughed. I clicked on the ad and it got even more ridiculous. Besides the misspellings there was only bold unsubstantiated claims and ego wrenching statements. The first line of the ‘article’ said that a woman’s hair is her livleyhood. Yes spelled that way. Then added:

According to a recent survery 93% of men agreed that a women’s hair is the most important attribute over all others.

Again, yes with the spelling. The reader is called girlfriend, which implies it’s written by a woman (for shame) and apparently researchers were stunned by the results. FFS people. It’s offensive that they are saying most men won’t find me attractive unless I use their product and grow my hair long. It’s more offensive that they think I would be swayed by this.

Do they think every woman with short hair is going to read their ad and say ‘Guess I better get to growing it out or I’m gross?’ Oh and I better tell my daughter to cut her long hair off since she doesn’t like men. That way she only has to fend off 7% male attention. The ad stated women with longer hair are more confident. GIRLFRIEND, do you know how much confidence it takes to pull off a pixie cut?

I don’t care what anyone else thinks I should look like/be/think. Ads don’t manipulate me. Not even Jif commercials work on me (choosy moms…). It’s a dumb way to market a product. It’s like saying “93% of women prefer men who don’t wear skinny jeans.” Wait, maybe that’s just me…Ignore that last part and Justin if you’re reading this, PLEASE don’t buy skinny jeans just because I was being hypocritical!

Now I’m not going to lie, I believe it’s probably true that the majority of men like long hair. I hope most women don’t care. My husband likes my hair long or short but even if he wanted it long I wouldn’t grow it out again. I prefer it short so short it stays. I can’t be short hair shamed. Even if it affected my ego I remember what it’s like to have tangles and I’m never going back! How I look shouldn’t be determined by the wishes of anyone but me.

Unfortunately since curiosity got the better of me and I clicked the ad, I will be getting more and more ads like it. They will fit right in with all the other unusual things popping up after doing research for stories. I’m writing about a war with ghosts so you can imagine the kinds of stuff I’ve looked up.

***NSA I am a writer, I only want to know how to make homemade weapons with salt ammunition and how long it takes to drown a possessed person for my book!***

If nothing else good came of this the ad got me writing when I didn’t feel like it. So thanks dumb sexist ad.

Sidenote: If you are wanting longer, thicker, fuller hair and want to try a product like this, go for it. You do you.

Random Writing Tip

Finding the time to write is easy. Just follow this advice:

  • Don’t get sick.
  • Never get injured.
  • Inform your family they cannot get sick or injured either.
  • Let the baby change his own diaper.
  • The three-year old will eventually stop screaming.
  • Family chauffeur service for soccer/dance/football/science club? Forget about it.
  • Dinner? Pfft, who needs it?
  • Supporting your family until you’re rich and famous? Come on, who really wants a roof over their head?
  • Visiting your parents, siblings, and extended family? It’s not like they will get mad at you if you disappear for 3 years!
  • Writer’s block? Fake it til you make it.
  • Showering? Step out in the rain occasionally and invest heavily in deodorant.
  • The sun? Do you really need vitamin D?
  • Don’t mow the lawn. Your neighbors are only pretending to be angry.
  • Not able to afford writing tools since you listened to the advice on not working? Chalk is cheap and sidewalks are everywhere. Bonus vitamin D included.
  • Give up your social life completely.
  • Stop reading.
  • Nothing to write about because you’ve lived in a void? Keep thinking, eventually something will happen.

Obviously life it going to intrude into your precious writing time. Unless you actually want to follow the ridiculous steps above you’re going to have to deal with it. The trick is to find the times in between to write. If your life is really busy all you can do is squeeze in minutes.

If you have young children you know the moments when the house is quiet because of naps, during daily kid shows, the tiny snippet of time while you’re cooking – waiting for water to boil or while something is baking, after they fall asleep at night, right before they wake. If you’re lucky enough to get to go grocery shopping alone. These are the moments you want to sneak in some writing. Even taking a couple of minutes to jot down ideas will make a world of difference. Dictating while driving could mean the difference between writing the most brilliant book of your life or simply forgetting the idea. If you walk or run for exercise, dictate instead of listening to music.

If you work you know how hard it is to find moments to write. Take ten minutes on your lunch break to write. Again, dictating while driving to and from work can help. Get up 30 minutes early to write, or stay up 30 minutes longer. Always take some time on at least one of your days off. A couple of hours a week of writing will add up over time.

I strongly recommend using a timer to train yourself to write efficiently and effectively in short bursts. I’m going to follow that advice myself. The list says to never get sick or injured. Well I broke that rule rather strongly. I haven’t really be able to write much for months, especially in August. I could get depressed and stop completely. I could feel sorry for myself and piss and moan about not being able to write, or stare at my story boards despondently. Instead I’m going to suck it up and write when I can. I know I can sit at my desk for at least 10 minutes straight so I’ll set my timer for that long and write in as many bursts as my aching back lets me. I might still feel a bit sorry for myself though.

I’m not saying you should force yourself to write when it’s going to hurt you. When my appendix decided it liked New Jersey enough to want to stay there instead of coming home to Texas, writing was impossible. Pain like that wouldn’t allow me to think about writing, let alone do the actual act. After surgery to get rid of the ungrateful, useless body part I was so sick that sitting up for longer than 2 or 3 minutes was not happening. I couldn’t even read for days. Then I had to ride in a car for 30 hours (across 3 days). So you can imagine the amount of writing I got accomplished. It sucks but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m healed up from it now and I can work on getting back to my normal writing schedule, or at least as normal as I can due to my back problems.

That’s all you can really do. Write when you can. Make the time, if possible and take advantage of the moments you do have. Do get outside sometimes. Take a spiral to a park once a week, your muse will love it. Take care of your kids and as they grow teach them to respect your writing time. Spend time with extended family, it will improve your writing being around people and you won’t have to feel guilty (besides these are the first people who inspired your characters). Hang out with friends so you remember how to adult. Mow the lawn and while you’re doing it be thinking about your story. Jot down your thoughts before you jump in the shower afterwards. Keep a notebook on you at all times. You can’t plan for when a great idea hits so it’s better to be prepared. The writing while waiting for water to boil thing may sound silly but why not try? There is dictation software out there that will let you use your smartphone to record. Never stop reading. The more you read the better writer you will be.

Mostly remember that life can and will get crazy but eventually there will be calm times. Most of these things are hurdles to get over not permanent road blocks. Don’t give up on writing if you love it.

Oh and please do shower!


Sidenote: This is what I wrote for my Saturday Six Minute Challenge. It took longer than 6 minutes which makes me happy since it’s always my goal to write for longer. I feel like a writer again! Now I’m going to go work on my ghost story. Happy writing everyone!

That’s So Offensive…

Remember when you use to be able to state your opinion online (or off) and not offend anyone? Me neither, because there were never any good old days when you could say what you want and there not be consequences. If you’re going to say something offensive then someone will be insulted. Hell, these days, someone can and probably will find pretty much anything you say offensive. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to state your opinion, you certainly can and if you want to, go for it. However, you should be prepared for the outcome.

One thing I’ve noticed, especially on Facebook is the shock and indignation when someone disagrees with another. If you stand on a sidewalk and shout out how much you hate a particular group you’re going to see a reaction right? Why would it be different online?

Logically we all know that not everyone will agree with us one hundred percent of the time. So why then are there so many FB fights with the person instigating it getting upset or confused? How many times have you seen someone do this and say they weren’t trying to start drama?

These people are full of it. If you post something polarizing you will get a fight. People who do this want to argue. They want to share their glorious opinion with the world, but especially with those who disagree. If you start a status with: “I know this is going to upset some people but I don’t care,” or pop in an: “If you don’t like it (or agree) you can unfriend me,” then you know what the outcome will be. Doing this is like adding on: “Bless her heart,” to the end of a nasty statement so you can say something whatever you want about another person without sounding mean. Besides, there are easier ways to make sure you’re only surrounded by people who agree with you.

You know what you’re doing, don’t pretend otherwise. Do you have the right to argue on your own personal Facebook or others’? Of course you do. Should you? That’s up to you to decide. Does it bother me? Actually no, unless you pretend like you weren’t trying to fight. Taking up the innocent person standard while waving a flag of war invalidates your argument for me. The point is, if you want to be confrontational and challenging, do so, but at least call it what it is.

Obviously this is MY opinion and I know a few people who would be offended by it. I’ll apologize now for provoking anyone. No, wait, I knew exactly what I was doing when I wrote it. Bless your heart.


Is anyone offended that I chose ‘me neither’ over ‘me either?”