Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Body Image, Jealousy, and Cat Marnell

Cat Marnell won't be writing for xojane.com anymore, which has me really sad. More sad than I should be, maybe? Because she wrote about being tormented by "a terrible little math problem multiplying and dividing forever in your head that equates rather exactingly your own hotness with the rest of the world's ability to love you" and I related to it. And that's all I can really say about that, because I've totally emailed her to tell her that I love her work, and now I'm blogging about her, and I don't want to be creepily obsessed with Cat Marnell.

But I do think about that quote a lot- particularly when I'm cranky but without the energy to be angry and nasty like a cornered raccoon. And I think about what body image means and whether or not looks actually matter, when compared with intelligence or personality or any of those things other people seem to care so damn much about, when they think of personal development. Examining that is hard, though- because my reaction to people who care about being smart or interesting or even just, you know, NOT male gazing their entire lives is white-hot jealousy. I console myself by remembering that I'm prettier (and I'm totally confident in calling myself pretty, because, my god, I WORK at it) or younger... but then I need to have that validated, so it feels like it's okay to be so willfully vapid. And then I'm even more attached to my focus on my appearance, and the vicious cycle starts over. And over and over.

It gets worse the older I get (and, oh, how I hate thinking in terms of "older"- not because I'm worried about LOOKING old, necessarily, but because I'm terrified that one day I'll wake up and look old... and it won't even matter. Which will mean that what I've cared about for so long was meaningless), the more I see people NOT caring about this stuff the same way I do. And it's awful- I get offended! Really offended that someone is DARING to be able to pass by a mirror without STARING, because obviously, they're doing it just to spite me and show me that I'm doing it wrong. Clearly, some women are fine without lipstick or eyeliner or taking time to pick apart their looks and zero in on every pore, because some people just WANT to watch the world burn.

Not that I really endorse my worldview. I'd like to hear that I'm smart/interesting/funny/creative and feel the same spike of pride I feel when I hear that I'm nice to look at. What's that like? Is it nice? Does it drive a person to do MORE things that require intelligence, etc? Because that sounds more productive that what "you're pretty" can lead to.

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