Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letting Go of Self-Hatred

Whoa, Graces got back!
Female bodies come in all sizes and shapes, and chances are good that if you have one, you probably think it is flawed and wish it was better.

In private, it likely goes farther than that, Maybe you think your thighs are hopelessly fat, your breasts too small or too large, your eyes too far apart or too close together, or your stomach is [fill-in-blank with any harsh criticism].

You may, at times, absolutely hate yourself for any number of reasons, some of them physical, others emotional or social.

Some days you dread the mirror.

The point is, you don't measure up and you'd better try harder.

This is a basic fact of life. It is almost what being female is.

The Perks of Female Self-Hatred

If you do hate yourself variously and a lot, take heart: Not only do you have plenty of company, but you are also supporting a huge sector of the American economy, and China's economy, and Pakistan's and Turkey's economy, and all sorts of other places that make shoes, clothes, underwear, etc.

You also support the food industry (gluten-free fat-free sugar-free everything!) and help otherwise unremarkable people make money by writing diet books and diet cookbooks.

So you are definitely serving an important economic function with your unending inadequacy and self-hatred, but did you know that you are also helping to keep the social fabric knitted together? Every day, your self-hatred insures every thing and every body stays in the right place and does what society would like people to do so we can all get along and not cause problems for each other.

Probably you don't see it that way, but it's true.

Imagine how hard it would be for men to approach, much less intimidate, women who did not feel inadequate in some fundamental way. It would be a heck of a lot harder for many of them, and maybe the two sexes would never hook up and the population would die off and human beings would become extinct instead of overrunning every square inch of the planet.

That would be bad, I guess. I don't know.

You aren't getting any younger, Princess!
I'm of two minds about it these days, seriously.

Also, if women were strangers to self-hatred, they'd expect more money in the workplace, and they'd start more businesses of their own, portraying themselves as competent and intelligent instead of cooperative and deferential. They'd run for Congress and stuff.

Pretty soon everybody would be doing what they wanted and everybody would expect respect and decent treatment for it, and whooo haaa wouldn't that be a pisser?

We can't afford that kind of crap!

So you see, self-hatred, specifically female self-hatred, is an integral part of our social and economic fabric.

On a familial and person level female self-hatred also serves a protective purpose.

If you start out openly admitting your many flaws and shortcomings and your persistent shame at not being able to fully fix all of same, other women (and men) are less likely to slap you down, because you are already slapping yourself down.

Maybe the elder women in your family have even taught you this kind of self-hatred by routinely and from a very young age critiquing your manner of dress, your hair, and the way you paint your face (or don't), and also by reminding you that the pool of available men is finite and, "You aren't getting any younger."

Letting Go

The problem is, this required self-hatred is horse shit and on some level you have always known it,  deep down, but you probably comply to keep the peace, and over time that compliance becomes reflexive. Self-hatred becomes a habit. You barely think about it most of the time--it just hangs in the air about you like a lingering fart.

To let go of that warm, if stinky, blanket of self-loathing means letting go of the false humility that makes the world go round and makes insecure people like you. (Or pretend to like you.)

That's hard. But it can be done.

You don't have to go overboard and become a Libertarian, but you do have to let yourself fall out of the mainstream, fall out of hate with yourself, and realize you are just fine as you are.

Everything around you will keep screaming that you are not OK.

So it isn't easy.

Me, Me, Me

I've spent the last six weeks taking a beginning yoga class, and what it has done for me more than anything else is to make me realize my body is fine. It's a good body, it has served me well and keeps doing so, and I kind of like it.

Basically there is nothing wrong with my body, and there is nothing wrong with yours either.

I'm not getting any younger. That much is probably true. Right now I'm 61, and last year I was 60. The year before that I was 59, and no kidding, I am sensing a pattern here.

But men? God they are all over the place and always have been. They comprise half the population, at least, and even on my worst day I will catch one or more of them checking out my boobs.

It's not because, at 61, I am so smoking hot. It's because that's what men do. 

If I am lucky enough to make it to 95, it will still happen occasionally, because by the time men hit 95 checking out boobs has become such a habit that they still do it even though they can't remember why.

Yes, that's right, all that "sex yourself up and do it pronto or else you'll be left in the dust" was a big fucking waste of time (unless you enjoyed it) because men will check our your boobs even if you run into 7/11 in your pajama bottoms and a hoodie and zero makeup.

I am also OK psychologically. Yes I take medication for depression, just like many people my age take medication for diabetes or high blood pressure. I'm grateful for it.

I have not forgiven every single person who ever was violent or degrading toward me. I have not made any teary speeches on Oprah or Dr. Phil. I still think my brother is a fucking psychopathic douche bag and here's why: My brother is a fucking psychopathic douche bag.

I don't live in that thought. I live in my nice warm life now, surrounded by people who love me, a dog and a cat, and beautiful nature preserves and public parks up North here.

If anyone else has a problem with any of that, guess what? It's their problem. I hope they find a way to deal with it and move on. If not, oh well.

So that's where I am today, a little less self-hateful, a little happier.

The journey continues.