As much as I loathe him, – and not just ’cause of his proclivity for peeing on preteens; I truly think the man is just yucky poo-poo in general; his talent questionable, and his songs sucktastic – I can’t get R.Kelly screeching “This is a radio message!” out of my head since I’ve decided to call this post a public service announcement. Whatever, you’re not in my head; it makes perfect sense to me.
I’m going to write a little something about the idea of confidence as it relates to dating. Or really, as it relates to other people’s perception when it comes to one’s dating success, or lack thereof. In my case, it’s lack thereof. Remember, I called this blog “I Can See Why She’s Single.” for a reason, ya’ll.
This post is going to be one of many that is super awkward, mostly because I will be writing about people that I like an awful lot and spend tons of time with, and I will be calling them on what I think is their total bullshit. I will also be going on and on about the undeniable beauty of another, which though complementary, is still crazy awkward for all involved. I mean, it is for me. And yes, people do go on and on about my supposed beauty, and it always makes me feel like a freak, and not because I am a walking sack of insecurities, which I may very well be – I’ll get to that – but because, dude, it’s weird. More on that probably later, but first, let’s get to the bullshit!
So, I whine to my friends about how no guys like me pretty often. You try not having sex for 13 years and see what kind of mood you’re in. Anyway, I whine a lot, and two of my friends whom I shall forever refer to on this blog as Dick and Jane because they are adorable and always together and would make great subjects for a hilarious series of children’s books, are often on the receiving end of my seemingly never-ending complaints about my banishment to The Barren Valley of Singledom. Dick and Jane try to always be SUPER encouraging about everything, which I attribute to their being raised in a religious cult that if it were to join forces with the Mormons would conquer us all. (They are gonna hate that. The attributing anything positive about them to the religious cult they escaped bit, not the conquering us all bit. When I pointed that out, Jane laughed. I don’t know where Dick was.)
Even though they are beacons of support in the dark, empty cavern that is my dating life, they also make an attempt to keep it real. Part of their attempt at imparting some realness into my
sex love-starved brain involves the notion of confidence and self-esteem. Dick and Jane like to constantly remind me that I’d be luckier in lurve if I were confident. I constantly remind them that I am confident, in my own way, but I am also a realist. They disagree, we argue, and then they like to once again tell me the story of Ariel and Eric.
Ariel is our beautiful friend that I have decided to call Ariel because whenever I describe Ariel to people that haven’t met her yet I say “She looks like a mermaid!” She is petite and slim, yet curvy where a girl ought to be, and has raven hair that flows down her back, and porcelain skin sprinkled with freckles, and pouty pink lips, and these blue-green eyes the color of the sea on a glorious summer day. She is also kind, thoughtful, smart, talented, and funny, but nobody cares about that when you’re as stunning as she is. She is perfection.
Ariel met her boyfriend Eric (not his real name, but it is the name of the prince in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, so I thought it was fitting to call him that, and our Eric is handsome the way a prince should be, and also has luxurious hair like Prince Eric in the movie) and decided that she found him desirable and declared “You will be mine” to him in her head and he of course agreed that yes, he would be hers, and now they live happily ever after and will someday have adorable, vaguely Asian looking children with black hair and green eyes. Dick and Jane tell me this story over and over and over again. The real story that hasn’t been edited to protect their identity on a blog that nobody but them reads is really cute and I like hearing it and all, but I say the same thing in response every time:
“Yeah, but it’s Ariel. I mean, look at her.”
Dick and Jane tell me that story because they think the moral is “Confident women get boyfriends by being confident!” where I, being the realist, think the moral of the story is actually “Men like beautiful women.” If Ariel looked more like, say this (I’m sorry Rachel! I love you!), then I would agree that they have a valid argument. But because Ariel looks like this if you’re a heterosexual male with no imagination – ahem – or like this and this if you are an awesome nerd with kick-ass taste in books and movies and a disturbingly vivid fantasy life, of course she’s going to get the guy in the end! Attributing her good fortune in love to her “confidence” is absurd and kind of insulting to my intelligence, especially because when asked, Ariel would describe herself as looking like this, but covered in freckles and with worse hair.
Jane will argue that fact with me to the death, because she is kind and likes me despite my many faults. My personality, which she thinks is pretty rad, has deluded the poor girl into thinking that I am very pretty. She thinks that I am just as pretty as Ariel, but what gets in my way is my belief that I am not. I think Jane is wonderful, and I appreciate her opinion, but sister-girl needs to get her eyes checked.
Here’s the part where I’m going to try to convince you, dear reader, that I am not crippled by low self-esteem despite the fact that everything in this post, heck, everything in and about this blog, points to the contrary. I don’t always think I’m ugly and there are times when I think I look down-right beautiful. I will go out and be surprised that no guys tried to holla, or that only one or two did. I don’t let my plus-size body stop me from wearing short skirts or color or horizontal stripes or skinny jeans. I recently cut my hair short and think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. I have plans to buy a fatkini before summer is over. I had an in-depth conversation with a Frenchman who looked like a fashion model on a rooftop in Brooklyn. Would a girl who wasn’t confident do that? Does any of the preceding sound at all like what a girl who has low self-esteem would do?
The thing is, I know that I’m not anywhere near as pretty or as attractive to the opposite sex as Ariel. That’s me being a realist. If you were to ask the average man who’d they rather with the choices being Megan Fox or Jill Scott, the celebrity I am most often told that I resemble, I believe that nine out of 10 of them will choose Megan, including the black men. It’s like comparing chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to avocado ice cream. Most people won’t even give avocado ice cream a try, but everybody likes chocolate chip cookie dough. That doesn’t make avocado ice cream awful or gross or stupid for existing. It just means that it’s an acquired taste. I am an acquired taste.
What bugs me the most about the whole thing is that when I remind Dick and Jane that Ariel is very hard on her physical appearance when they tout her confidence, they sort of wave away the idea. “But she carries herself confidently” they’ll say. And I don’t? “Well, we know what you really think of yourself” they’ll say. Yeah, but you’re two of my closest friends. Some guy in a bar won’t have a clue. I’ve put on three coats of mascara; there’s no way that I’m carrying myself in a way that isn’t confident. It bothers Jane that I
know believe that I’m not as pretty as Ariel. We’re both her special girlfriends; in her sweet eyes, we’re equally gorgeous. Dick is more frank about the whole thing; he agrees with me in a way that is without tact, but that I still sort of appreciate, if only because it helps to prove my point. But yet he can’t let it go that my real problem is “confidence”.
I think it makes Dick and Jane uncomfortable to say “Yeah, Ariel is better looking than you are. She is more conventionally attractive, yet is also more beautiful than your average woman. Of course she got the guy in the end! We’ll stop telling you that story, because it simply doesn’t apply to you.” They already encourage me to do the things that only ugly women are encouraged to do: be friends first so he can see what a great personality you have, talk to him about the things you have in common with him, hang out with him in a group so he can see how much your friends love you. They did forget to tell me to put a paper bag over my head, though.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry at Dick and Jane or at Ariel’s beauty. I get that I’m an acquired taste. If I were still thin, and still wore my hair long and relaxed, I too could declare that someone I liked would be mine and it would be so. It was so during my glory days. What irks me is the notion that my (supposed) lack of confidence is a). a thing b). obvious and c). keeping me single. That the things that I think or share privately (or write about in a blog) about myself are obvious to everyone. They’re not. Unless I’m in big time denial, I know they’re not. My whole life has been about perfecting masks; ain’t no way that this one has slipped. I, with natural, short hair and fat body, (and maybe also with brown skin and black identity; we’ll talk about that some other time) am not going to have an easy time with this dating thing. I haven’t. I’m still the same neurotic jerk whether I’m fat or thin, kinky or straight. I’m just a lot easier to take when I’m wrapped in a prettier package.
So, for the public service announcement. It will need to be catchy and memorable, yet informative. I’m thinking of something like “It’s okay; you can tell me. I can take it.”, a reference to the fact that I get that lots of girls are prettier than me and will have an easier time attracting men. No need to sugar coat it in platitudes about how no one will love you if you don’t love yourself (if you’re a fat and/or average looking girl). I’m also throwing around “It’s alright if you think she’s prettier. I do too, but I’m still confident!” I think either would look great headlining brochures instructing folks on how to talk to their more unfortunate looking single female friends.
Oh, wait. I’ve realized that I’ve left something out. Something that is perhaps critical to the story. Dick and Jane use Ariel as an example because of her “confidence” AND because she approached Eric. I’m not into the whole approaching guys thing. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and/or embarrass myself. I mean, imagine how the counter girl at the ice cream shop must feel trying to get people to taste the avocado flavor. It would suck to hear “Ew, avocado??” all day long, am I right? HAHAHAHA! Right?
Shut up. Dick and Jane do not have a point.