Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Media's "empathy" for "shamed" Individuals

 One of the big trends in the news is to feature stories about people who have been insulted by strangers.  I wish I could just talk to the people (all women, so far) who are the protagonist in each of these stories, and just tell them that the take-away of the bad experience of being made fun of (sometimes not even directly, just by overhearing a mean comment) should be not to give a fuck about people like that.  This story is about a plus-size woman who overhears a daughter and mom making fun of a plus size tank top at Old Navy:

Mainstream society is getting BETTER (or at least on TV and in L.A.) about at least attempting to understand different standards of beauty, the fluidity of gender, and deviations from the old "normal" in general.  Or at least that's what I notice.  But a teenaged girl and her mom making fun of big clothes in an Old Navy?  They're not likely to be ambassadors of acceptance and understanding.  Also, they did not know (or at least that's my understanding, from the news coverage) that they were in ear-shot of a plus-size woman.  

I am so happy the woman went to the car to cry it out, because it really does suck to have her feelings hurt.  And I'm happy she went back in the store, tried on that tank top, felt great in it, and bought it.  I wish I could have been teleported to that Old Navy during that mean exchange between the mother and daughter and the sad instance of the woman who overheard their jerkiness.  I would have just told her "Ignore them."

We can't base our self worth so heavily on other people's negative opinions.  I think the news trend of stories of "shaming" is, while not surprising (the news just wants to show the stories people want to hear, and shaming is a big topic of interest right now), this focus on feeling shame because of what other people say or think of you is a dangerous way to ignore the shamee's ability for self-love and bravery.  The antidote for people's judgmental shittiness is self-love, confidence, the ability not to give a fuck about assholes.  And when it's not possible to ignore the harassment or cruelty of an asshole that decides to pick on you, you decide how you want to handle it.  You can confront him or her, if you feel that's going to be cathartic for you.  Or, you can just rest assured that you look wonderful how you are, that you don't need to rely on other people's opinions as a reflection of who you are and what you look like, and you can decide not to let them make you feel ashamed.

this is a photo of me in my 9th grade yearbook, when I was voted "Most Original" by a jury of my peers.  They also voted a "Most Original" boy, but he refused to be in the same picture as me.  The good news was, even though he hurt my feelings, I got the whole photo all to myself. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Fine Line Between Confidence and Self-Delusion

I am more aware than usual lately of the possible fine line between confidence and self-delusion.  

I try to operate, as much as possible, on the assumption that I am a compelling person.  When I was a pre-teen and teenager this was certainly true -- I tried and succeeded in being a driving force of the network of misfits at my school  -- if there was ever anyone who needed saving, from bullying or loneliness, I tried to be the one to help, and in return, I felt that I was making a notable difference that I could count on without ever having to ask myself questions about whether I was leading a worthwhile life, etc.  And, as far as my involvement in Riot Grrrl goes, in my youth, I know that a real and important connection was made between myself and some of my readers or our listeners, because of actual friendship connections forged with people that I knew from reading my zine or hearing our band.  One of my unabashed goals in life is to know that I am of importance.  And when I was younger, I felt an unquestioned network of support and care from people who knew I cared and supported them.

As is usually the case, my college years were an experiment in rampant self-obsession and flakiness.  Even then, half in the bag 3/4 of the time, it was important for me to know, or at least believe, that I had an invisible but very strong support network.  When I was younger, I'd thought I had to earn that network.  But during the long duration of my period of selfishness and recklessness, I just hoped I was pretty and interesting enough to compel people to strongly care for me.

I've always been aware that my concept of my importance may be a bit of a delusion, but I've also always thought "I don't care if I'm deluding myself of my importance, as long as I never have to find out that it's a delusion."  I still feel that way.  If I've had to imagine that I'm a compelling person as part of what gives me confidence, then fuck it, it's worth it.  Confidence is confidence.

The past few years, though, I've definitely come to ask myself again:

-Is my life societally worthwhile?

-Should I care what other people think, even if it's positive?

-Is it dangerous to assume that there is still some group of Robin Crane enthusiasts, who unconditionally love (and Facebook "like") me?

And also, what is the point of life?

For me, the first and foremost point of life is to create and contribute to a wonderful household.  That doesn't mean keeping the house clean -- it means being a present and loving member of my little triad -- me, my husband/best friend, and my son.  I always have to remind myself though that I can't be interesting and great to others if I'm not interesting and great to myself.  So that always brings me back to the question -- what is the point of life?  It can't just be "the point of life is to give my son a good life," because then it's like "but what'll be the point of HIS life?"  and I want his life to be full of interests and art and beauty.  So then I should make sure that my own life is full of those same things.  

But really and truly, what IS the point of life?  Is it just its own point? -- you have a life, so either live it or don't, and if you decide to live it, try to make it interesting?  Or is it meaningful to also affect other people?  Is it important to leave behind some record of thoughts?  Or is it better not to assume that your life is of any lasting importance in the scheme of things?  This last question is what I'm always thinking -- should I assume that my life is of important to others?  and also, should I care?  With the question of confidence and this idea of a support network, is it a pointless delusion to imagine it out there?  

I'm thinking of these things a lot lately because I was recently laid off, and then I had open heart surgery, and with both of these events, I've been a little bit house-bound, so it's just me, myself and I around this little house, most days.  It has me wondering if I've left some kind of marker or forget-me-not out there in the wider world, for when I re-enter.  I keep wondering, does it matter if there's anybody out there thinking of me?  And also, does it matter if there's anyone out there thinking of me, as long as I imagine that there is?

sometimes I just imagine I'm flying over everything like the character in this movie

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tired Glamour

tired glamour like a magnolia leaf fallen from its tree.  it is losing its velvety whiteness, starting to crinkle dry at the edges, but it still smells sweet, like the pasadena streets of my childhood.