I Am Not My Body

The video of Dustin Hoffman breaking down while describing his epiphany about women not getting  a chance if they’re not “pretty” is still a hot topic on Facebook and various other social media.


Dustin Hoffman


And what he looked like in drag:



One of my favorite lines in the movie was the response to “I’d like to make her look a little more attractive. How far can you pull back?” “How do you feel about Cleveland?”


So, despite Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gloria Steinem and the whole damned Women’s Movement, we’re still valueless unless we are aesthetically pleasing.

Something like this:


Creepy, huh? But this little girl is getting an early education in WHAT REALLY MATTERS: the surface.

With any luck, she’ll grow up to be this:



I don’t ever recall seeing Steve Douchey (Yes, I know I misspelled it. On purpose. I’ve seen the show) or Neil Cavuto dressing sexy for their on-air time. All the women, though: cocktail dresses at 7 AM. Because, God knows, you can’t talk about unrest in Egypt or an airliner crashing without showing some cleavage.


I can give you a list of things that I am, but let’s start with what I am not as these are “feminine” qualities valued in 2013: in my twenties, slender, submissive, ignorant, obsessed with shoes (one bad knee and I twist my ankles in nasty fashion on a regular basis. No stilettos. I’ve tried), quiet or helpless.

I have been on my way out the door to pick up 50 lb. sacks of soil at Lowes and had someone tell me to “put on some lipstick.” My choice of clothing for this particular task was also criticized: you’re wearing what?

The implied sentiment being that I dare not show myself in public unless I’m showered, shaved and styled. Right. I’m going to gussy up to heave BAGS OF DIRT into my car. What was I thinking?

I am overweight (no longer obese), over 40, highly educated (this alone makes me an abomination in some corners of the world) and single. I have always had to buy my own drinks, load/unload my own groceries, kill my own spiders.

I had someone tell me the other day that “women are manipulative” and gave me examples of how her daughter works her husband. I wasn’t raised that way. When I tried the “Daddy’s Little Princess” route, I met with failure (of course, there was some ferocious competition in that department. I hung back and let the two of them duke it out). However, if I could present a cogent argument and shoot down objections, then I would get what I wanted. Was I being raised as a second son? No idea. I do know, however, that I get irritated and disgusted with the smile, pout, wink, charm routine when it’s tried on me. Want to see me roll my eyes? Try that.

I had a law school classmate who used “charm” as her MO (when she wasn’t glaring at people through slitted eyes). Pissed her off that it didn’t work on me.  I’ve believed (because that was the education I got) that if you have to resort to putting on a show to get what you want, perhaps you’re not very confident in your abilities to get it on your own.

I am confident in my abilities.

The notion that woman have little or no value beyond their appearance saddens me. We are the majority in the US (and I think in the world), but if we’re so busy making sure our appearance is pleasing to others, the energy and focus that we could bring to bear on issues of social, national and international importance  is wasted, especially since there is a tendency to pit women against each other over trivial matters (backstabbing, gossip and cat fights. Real Housewives of Anywhere). The former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has had her appearance analyzed and mocked for years. Yale Law School?  OMG: do you SEE the pantsuits? Most traveled Secretary of State in history? What? Look at the cankles! But…at the same time…the Kardashians are worshiped. None of these women really do anything to earn a living, none have a college degree (did they even graduate high school?) but millions of people can’t get enough of their televised existence.

I was trying to navigate through a crowded parking lot and a guy in a truck hit his brakes to let e walk in front of him. As I passed the driver’s side and gave him the acknowledgement wave, he leaned out the window and yelled, “Smile! You should smile more!’

I had just found out that I’d lost my job and was trying to figure out what the HELL I was going to do and this guy wants to me to smile? Because he thinks I should? I gave up being a people pleaser a loong time ago, Buddy. It’s like Jon Stewart telling Tucker Carlson “I’m not your monkey boy.”

And for those who get, “C’mon, smile!”, I give you this link http://www.ebony.com/news-views/when-i-stopped-asking-women-to-smile-981#axzz2YhEtrgyB

See also Gloria Steinem’s “Revolution from Within” which contain as essay about women constantly being asked to smile. You’ll rethink your position

Is this part of the bias that attractive people are better people? That they’re kinder, more generous, more intelligent?



Under the “appearance as value” dynamic, despite possessing one of the most beautiful souls to grace this planet, this woman has no value.



Under that same dynamic, this is a good guy. This is a great guy. It’s Ted Bundy. The authorities still aren’t sure how many women he killed. Or where he buried the bodies.

Do you see where it kind of falls down? Living my life so that my appearance is pleasing to others is not my priority; I have to get through my life. Lipstick doesn’t make me stronger. Dressing in a way that someone else wants actually diminishes me because I am not being true to myself.


And for a final thought, I turn to a wiser source than I (Facebook memes):


final thought







One thought on “I Am Not My Body

  1. Thank you for discussing this. I followed your other blog – and was always touched when you discuss how others wanted you to be – not for you, but for them. You are right – a little less time with the Kardashians and more time on real issues.

    One of the things I love about your book, These Foolish Things, is that the main character Liz is a real person. Her body is not perfect, and she takes the stance that if you don’t like it, that’s YOUR problem.

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