I just watched the Girls episode from last week—“One Man’s Trash”—and it was super super good as always, and in the middle of the episode, I had a breakthrough.
In the episode, Hannah (the lead character, played by Lena Dunham) has sex with this dude she just met, and he tells her she’s beautiful and she’s like, “You really think so?” and he’s like, “Don’t you?” and she goes, “I do, it’s just not always the feedback that I’ve been given.” That last line was the one that jolted me. It was insta-empowering.
I have made no secret in this diary about my love for Samantha Jones, who is a kind of role model to me in terms of doing whatever the hell you want without worrying about what anyone else thinks. She’s also the only main character on Sex and the City who doesn’t do this annoying thing where if someone says they’re sexy or beautiful they have to be all, “Who, ME, sexy??!” As if these women aren’t just constantly walking up to any man they find cute and winning them over in under a minute. They’re attractive, (usually) confident women with whom half of SATC’s version of New York wants to have sex. Their reactions remind me of how I usually respond to any compliment, even if I actually think I look fancy as hell/hawt/adorable that day. What Hannah did by admitting that she thinks of herself as beautiful was, as Phoebe put it later in our Super Not So Secret Rookie Staff Group on Facebook, “such an affront to being coy and self-deprecating.”
A few years ago I was working as a camp counselor at an all-girls summer camp. On the penultimate night of camp, all the counselors decided to go skinny-dipping. So we all walked down to the lake and stripped down and jumped in. Fun. Neat. Great.
But then this one girl, my best friend at the camp, looked at my boobs and laughed. She started making fun of them and then everyone else laughed at them, too. One girl said they looked “like lopsided meringues.”
I laughed along with them. Then, when everyone had moved on, I got out of the lake, picked up my towel, walked back to my cabin, and went to bed. I didn’t talk to anyone the next day except when I needed to.
And, for a while, I thought it was good that they had told me that I had two hideous meringue sprouts attached to my chest. I thought that I must have been stupid before and that they caught me before I had an unwarranted sense of confidence.
The thing is, I think my boobs look really fucking awesome. Like lopsided meringues. And I recently let my armpit hair go wild because I wanted to see what it looked like. And it looks awesome with my meringue boobs. Around where I live, in the South, pit hair is not considered a “cool” way to look, but the instant I got my first sprouts of hair I was like DAMN THIS LOOKS GOOD.
I know that not everyone sees it that way. So when I’m around other people I still feel less than spectacular. But when I’m alone, I feel like a fucking queen. Although the feedback about my face or body has not been historically stellar, I don’t have to pretend like I don’t think I’m hot shit because of it. I don’t need other people to agree with me. I can feel that way all by myself. Maybe in a month, or two, or more, I can feel that way all the time. ♦