A friend recently asked me why I take so much pride in what I wear and love fashion so much when I dislike me and others being judged on appearances An interesting question.
As I wrote on DiVine, and then Mamamia, my dad once told me that I should always take pride in myself. He said I should always present myself in the best way possible. I should be well dressed and groomed. Walk with good posture. Always smile. Be a nice person. He told me this because he believed it would help people look past my confronting chronic illness.
I love fashion as much as the next girl. And I enjoy being photographed – you can probably tell from the amount of photos I post of myself here. I don’t follow trends religiously, and know I’m not supercool, but I love flicking through fashion magazines and blogs, and shopping is my religion. Sometimes I plan my outfits like someone would plan an important project – I probably devote far too much time on thinking about clothes. But dressing well makes me feel good, and I also receive lots of compliments. And what woman doesn’t want that? A pretty dress can take my mind off my scaly scalp. And wearing a nice outfit after a week of hanging in my trackies while off work sick is a great pick me up. And dressing well also makes me feel like others are looking past my redness – and seeing me for my personality, interests and creativity.
I don’t think my interest in fashion and yearning to dress well is vanity. I hate that trait. To me, vanity is ugly.
I hate the homogenisation of image, and the need to look perfect at all times – just like the models in magazines. People look the same – and fear difference. They associate bad looks with failure. But I think individuality is beautiful. Why would you want to look like everyone else?
When people start talking about how ugly they look in person or photos, or talk about their bad hair-day or minute pimple, I tune out. Boring. Superficiality is boring. As I wrote the other day, I hate the fishing for compliments when they post ‘bad’ pictures of themselves online. I regard it as self obsessed, insecure and disrespectful to greater issues. It’s like they think their looks are the only thing they have going for them. Well, in some cases, it may well be…
Get this – I was once told that I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be teased because I’m beautiful. Because this woman was teased because she was beautiful. I know. Difficult times. Because it’s not like I know what it’s like to be teased because of my appearance. (And as karma would have it, the person who said this to me is in an extremely bad place now, a place I wouldn’t wish on anyone.)
Call me harsh, but in all honesty I can’t fathom the comparisons ‘beautiful people’ make between the ridicule they receive compared to the insults people with disabilities and disfigurements receive. It may be naive or small minded, or perhaps judgemental of me, but I don’t get these comparisons. I don’t get the desire to change image ‘for the better’ through surgery or cosmetic treatments. And perhaps by my commentary here, I am being judgemental towards those genetically blessed people.
I recently saw a video of the UK TV documentary/reality TV show Beauty and the Beast – The Ugly Face of Prejudice. While I completely disagree with the term ‘beast’ used about someone’s appearance, I agree with the premise of the show, and need to showcase the reality (if a reality TV show can be deemed a reality) of the prejudices faced by people with disabilities and disfigurements, and changing peoples’ perceptions and value of appearance.
Beauty and the Beast pairs up self obsessed, vain beauties with people born with disabilities or acquired disfigurements, and helps the ‘beauty’ do away with the importance placed on image.
Hosted by Adam Pearson, the show deals with the invisibility felt by people with disabilities or disfigurements, and discrimination experienced – surprisingly by both the pair. Discrimination due to image is just as difficult as discrimination due to inaccessibility. One of the most important statements in the show is “Imagine if I’d been turned away because I was black, or I simply just wasn’t good looking enough? Where do you draw the line on discrimination by looks?”
But there is a good vlog providing a commentary of Beauty and the Best that I want to share:
Great thoughts, Mike. And I can hear Savage Garden in the background!
While I haven’t been obviously directly discriminated on due to my appearance, I’m sure it’s happened. Maybe I didn’t get a job because there was a perception I’d be too much of a liability. I have certainly been told that it’s great I’m out in public and not locked away somewhere.
And of course, there’s the staring and comments. Sometimes I position myself facing away from people – particularly kids – at cafes, just to avoid being stared and pointed at in public.
I often tire of peoples’ vanity. I once told someone who didn’t want a photo taken of themselves due to a bad hair day that “if I can be ok with my appearance after being called ugly by a group of five dwarfs in public, then you can be ok with yours”.
Yep, I’m always telling it as it is. Hopefully to make people realise that looking good isn’t everything.
There’s more of this that I want to cover – but I’ve written heaps here, so look out for future blog entries continuing the topic.
I am so passionate about this topic – please spread the word!