Saturday, February 15, 2014


Everybody does not get a trophy. Don’t even get me started. Working as a teacher in the public school system, this topic circulates with strong emotion and opinion. I am adamant about this, because I am convinced that in making sure everyone gets a trophy we fail to teach children how to deal with disappointment. These children become adults ill equipped to deal with life in the real world.
I believe this practice is fear driven. “Oh no! If little Brittany or little Evan doesn’t get a trophy then they will feel sad and left out! Their “feelings will get hurt”, whatever that means. Feel human emotions like sadness and loss? God forbid a child would be uncomfortable! What happened to our faith in children, our faith in their resilience and ability to adapt, learn, and grow? What happened to our faith in our own ability as adults to teach them how to respond to disappointment?
So what does this have to do with beauty? I’ll tell you. I believe our culture has the same kind of resistance to disappointment about being not-beautiful. There is a message I am hearing more and more that all women’s bodies are beautiful, no matter what shape or size or disfigurement. It sounds good on the surface, but I am beginning to see this kind of thinking, without examination, can be dangerous. 
Let’s break it down.
Is it really true? Is every female physique, every body type, no matter what, beautiful? 
Consider this: Is every kid gifted? Is every child an athletic champion? No. 
Yet we want everyone to feel included and valued. Not an unreasonable goal. Does that mean we give every child a trophy so they can feel better about themselves? Is their feeling better about themselves dependent upon receiving a trophy?
Likewise, is a woman feeling better about her body dependent upon being seen as culturally beautiful? I am speaking solely about physical beauty. And yes, it does depend on how one defines beautiful, but we will get to that. For now, I am going to state vehemently and adamantly that a woman feeling good about her body is absolutely not dependent upon her being seen as beautiful. Being seen as beautiful by others and me feeling beautiful in my body are two different things.
There is a Facebook page I follow which posts some thought provoking articles about women’s body size and their acceptance of it. Many of these blog pieces and written works are women in celebration of fat-women bodies. Even the word “fat” which was taboo for many years is now being claimed with great pride. Wonderful pics are posted of women defiant, proud, and celebrative in their largeness. It’s a beautiful thing, in my opinion, an important step.
However, a recent blog post and a discussion with my husband got me to thinking. One blogger’s point in particular was to encourage fat women to see themselves differently in regards to what kind of men were available to them. She encouraged her female readers not to “settle” because they thought no one would want a fat girl. I get that. I think it is sound advice.

The blogger wrote about moving from an attitude that says "nobody wants a fat girl" to the place of "I refuse to settle". But here’s where I got hung up. With great enthusiasm this self described “Fat Girl” blogger shared her discovery, “I was the one who had to sift through [available men] and pick the hottest of the hot.”
My fat husband, who prides himself in being a realist and is totally comfortable with referring to himself as “Bigfat”, by the way, made a good point. Isn’t the action of picking through the “hottest of the hot” the same action many of these posts protest? How can you say, “all women are beautiful”, out of one side of your mouth and then refer to your choice of men as “the hottest of the hot”? Aren’t you saying some men are hot, some are the “hottest of the hot”, and some are not? If so, then the same is true of women. Again, we are talking about physical appearance here, and it is factual to say that it varies. 
Attaching our worth and value to that fact is the problem.
Fact: I am not “beautiful enough” to be a Victoria’s Secret model. Can I live with that fact? 
Does this fact diminish me in any way? Absolutely not. 
Am I beautiful enough to win a Miss USA beauty contest? No. 
Do I care? Fuck no. 
Do you see where I’m going with this?
There will be times when my physical appearance does not in any way fit the word “beautiful”. 
Can I, in that moment, love and accept myself in spite of that truth ... or perhaps even because of it? That, my dear sisters, is the million-dollar question.
 (excerpt from my upcoming book, The Forgotten Relationship)

**My husband just read this blog post. What he said in response is insightful, beautiful, and I love him all the more for seeing it and speaking it.

He said, “What’s true is I don’t have to be a body builder, an underwear model, or an MMA fighter in order to know my worth. I know my worth. The difference is I don’t have a culture pounding into my head the message that I do have to be those things. There is some of that for men in our culture, but no where near what it is for women.”

1 comment:

Artifice said...


Great post! Michael is so wonderful and I appreciate his point of view.