If you’re looking for books about how to write memoir on a site like Amazon, there are so many titles and so many of them have five stars. Which of them do you choose?
I googled “What it’s like to be an unattractive woman” in the hope of finding other women like myself to befriend, and among the results was this article by Tracy Moore called “Will Women Ever Have the Freedom to be Ugly?”
It begins on a promising note, as Moore describes her personal experiences of being called ugly and pointing out that if beauty were not expected of women, it would free up a lot of our time, resources and energy.
But then Moore goes on to say:
Second, what do I mean by ugly? Like all things subjective, it’s arguable to infinity. I think when women are called ugly, they are not actually ugly — they are simply noncompliant. They are not willing to spend the time, money and energy it takes to live up to a cultural beauty standard that says skin tones must be evened out, eyes must be enhanced, cheek bones accented, weight managed, desirability advertised, and so on. (Remember, pretty is a skill set.)
Some of us cannot be pretty no matter how compliant we try to be. Spackling makeup on an ugly face will not turn it into a pretty one. Moore seems to be one of those idealists who think there is no such thing as an ugly woman, but the real world tells us otherwise.
Sometimes I really think one of the most radical things a woman can do is simply not brush her fucking hair.
There are many more radical things a woman can do than not brush her hair. For example, she could recognize that she is a member of an oppressed class, and work together with other members of the same oppressed class to dismantle the system that oppresses her.
Reddit is a cesspool of misogyny, but this thread is worth reading: Do Unattractive Women Really Feel Completely Ignored/Invisible?.
“You’re not unattractive!” “You’re not even that fat!” “Someone finds you beautiful!” “Beauty is subjective” OH MY GOD FUCK RIGHT OFF.
Just accept that the world is a mean place sometimes. You telling me my struggles don’t exist makes me feel more invisible. Like you can’t even comprehend the life unattractive people lead so you have to blow smoke up my arse to make yourself feel better? It’s not like people are flinging shit in my face but can we please accept the fact that not being attractive impacts my actions and the actions of others? — commenter sehrah
OMG, THIS THIS THIS.
And my own related piece, Feminists Are Ugly.
So readers, if any of you are conventionally unattractive, I want to be your friend.
We’ve got the goon squad, and we’re coming to town….
— David Bowie, “Fashion”
When I was 13, I had only the vaguest stirrings of what would eventually make me into a feminist. But I was brutally aware, as only a 13-year-old can be, of the strict social caste system among kids. I was aware that I was not thin or pretty enough to be one of the cool kids, and I was too poor to afford the clothes that signified status. I grew up in a ghetto section of a large California city, part of and surrounded by poverty. If you weren’t from around there, you might think that the poor kids wouldn’t care as much about having the right clothing as the rich kids, but you’d be wrong. Designer clothing was EVERYTHING. To the point where many of our parents sought out cheap designer knockoffs for us at the swap meet in the hopes of helping us fit in. If you showed up at school in a dress from K-Mart, everyone knew it and would mock you mercilessly. They always knew where the cheap clothes came from.
I’m making a series of paintings based on the words that have been eliminated from the Oxford Junior English Dictionary as no longer relevant to childhood. This is word #2: “Adder”.
There are two kinds of people: those who have spent most of their adult lives partnered, and those who have not.
I’m one of the latter, and I feel like we’re a minority among all the happy (or happy-seeming) couples out there. But I have found a number of other people who have spent their adult lives alone, too, and it helped me to feel less weird about it.
I wonder if there are any reading my blog and if they’d like to share their stories. It doesn’t matter if you are willingly or unwillingly without a partner.
There are of course many ways to become poor; some people are born into poverty, some people achieve poverty, and some people have poverty thrust upon them. Usually (I suspect) it’s a combination of factors. Suggesting that someone being poor is entirely about their lack of personal responsibility is as ignorant as suggesting someone being poor is entirely the fault of “society.” Speaking from personal experience, one indeed must make the conscious decision not to remain poor and affirmatively work toward the goal of a better life. Speaking also from personal experience, one does not often escape poverty without the help of others, both as individuals and as one’s larger society. Without both, the possibility of leaving poverty becomes dramatically smaller.
What I generally find implied from people who suggest poverty is wholly a personal flaw of character is the following thought: “Since you are entirely reponsible for your poverty, I have no responsibility to help fight poverty in the United States.” This is akin to someone comfortably standing on the deck of a ship looking over to see another person splashing in the ocean, asking for help, and deciding not to throw them the life preserver that’s hanging on the railing on the grounds that clearly that person decided to go for a swim and therefore it’s their responsibility to make it back to the ship before they drown.
Well, possibly that person went for a swim; possibly they fell overboard because they had too much to drink; possibly a sudden swell knocked them overboard; possibly they were shoved into the water. The thing is, a more rational person will wait to examine the root causes of that person being in the ocean until after they’ve thrown the life preserver and helped to haul that person back unto the ship. — John Scalzi, Being Poor Additional Comments Thread
As someone who was homeless for two years, and had to listen to judgy well-off people going through whatever verbal or logical contortions they could to avoid having any compassion for people like me, this really resonated.