I want your ugly

When I learned that The Idler was going to devote a week to The Lady herself (Gaga, that is), I thought The F Word might have to opt out, due to obvious subject matter constraints. As I thought more about it, though, I started thinking about the reasons I named this column what I did.

While I think Americans like talking about food almost as much as they like eating it, I think that food can also become a bad word, especially for women. Indulgence is a sin, one always committed with excuses (A bad day at work. A bad boyfriend. I’ve been doing a juice cleanse for a month). Food can be a bad thing. Do you notice how you don’t want to be one who orders dessert first? “I’ll get one if you get one.” “We’ll be fatasses together.” It’s shameful to be the one who wants it. Unless, of course, you have someone else to balance your want for the dessert with feelings of regret afterward. I’d say it’s almost in fashion to think that you are fat. Or to say that you think you’re fat. No one wants to hear a woman say that she thinks she looks beautiful and thin today. Any compliments should be countered with something negative.

Woman 1: “Ugh, I ate so much at dinner today. I must have gained twelve pounds.”
Woman 2: “Shut up. You’re so skinny.”
Woman 1: “Well, my stomach is pretty flat, but I’ve pretty much resigned myself to big thighs.”
Woman 2: “No way. I am so much fatter than you.”
Woman 1: “Are you kidding? You have hips. I look like an eleven-year-old boy. And you have the best smile. My teeth are so hideous.”
[Note: This is an actual conversation I’ve had. More than once. I’m no less guilty.]

On an on, a contest of who can out-ugly whom. Instead of focusing on what we like about ourselves, we’re looking for the flaws.

Lately, I’ve noticed an upsetting trend where I don’t feel like I can say anything when I feel happy about the progress I have made. I’ve never been very overweight, but I definitely gained the freshman 15, and have worked about four years to get to a point where I have incorporated exercise and (mostly) healthy eating into a part of my daily routine. I make sure I balance cardio with weight training and with relaxation, like yoga. I went clothes shopping a month ago and fit into a size two pants for the first time. The only person I felt comfortable sharing my excitement with were my mom and my friend Anna, who has made a similar effort to be healthy and now can run half marathons in her sleep. And still beat everyone.

As I was typing that paragraph, I can feel a sense of ire from invisible readers. I felt afraid typing it. Even worse, I have a problem now where many of my pants don’t fit, so I worry about looking unprofessional at work, but don’t have the money to replace all of my pants. I realize this is very much a first-world problem. And, it’s barely even a “problem.” But I know that I can’t voice thoughts like this without someone saying “SHUT UP. YOU ARE SO SKINNY. YOU GO TO THE GYM ALL THE TIME. I HAD TO BUY A SIZE BIGGER PANTS YESTERDAY.” It’s not like I haven’t been there too. It’s not like I feel great about myself at all times. However, I’m really tired of the culture of self-hate. I’m tired of having to lie and say I’m so fat when I know I’m not. What’s wrong with our conceptions of food and our bodies if we don’t feel comfortable telling the truth about them?

Lady Gaga That’s why I admire Lady Gaga. I’d agree that her body is far from the average woman’s body, but she’s not afraid to be as much of a freak as she wants. She feels free to appear in public in ridiculous hats or showing enough skin to incur some really unfortunate sunburns. She doesn’t give a shit about what you think. It’s not a shock that I saw lots of Gagas out for Halloween—what an opportunity for women to be as much of a freak as they want, and go to out without covering up, pulling down, checking and rechecking the mirror for telltale fat rolls.

On Halloween, I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight, where people were dressed as half boys, half girls, in lingerie, as Aeon Flux, men dressed as women, women dressed as men, women dressed as men dressed like women, and lots of skin all around. While it was definitely not something you’d want grandma to see, it was so refreshing to see a large crowd of people enjoying being themselves, comfortable in their bodies.

Obviously, there are health concerns to being overweight that should not be ignored. But, for the love of Gaga, can we please try to look for things that we like about our bodies, rather than picking on everything that we hate? As Gaga would say, “I want your love.” Or, alternatively, “Rah rah ah ah ah, ro ma, ro ma ma, ga ga ooh la la.”

5 Responses to “I want your ugly”
  1. Saundra says:

    Fact: Jill is hot. I’ve been admiring your abs for years now.

    I’ll also be so bold as to say for being 5 months pregnant, I don’t think I look too shabby.

  2. Jill says:

    Thanks Sunni :) You’re totally a hot mama. Without question.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Jill, you do look amazing. And if you can’t call yourself out on looking hot, who can?

  4. Laura says:

    I’ve stumbled upon your blog today at work and I have been pleasantly distracted for the last hour or so reading post after post!
    I have encountered similar snarky looks from women when I say something positive about my body rather than the conditioned negative.
    So, bravo girlfriend! Rock on with your bad ass self!

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