Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I feel pretty, Oh, so pretty...

Yesterday, yesterday I was stewing.

If I had canned it, it'd tide us through next winter. I mean, if we liked canned stew heavily peppered with vitriol. With a side of vituperativeness.

I love those angry V words.

Anyway, I've simmered down a little. But yesterday I was just too angry to respond to comments. However, I really appreciated them; please don't think I didn't.

They definitely made me feel better, and less aberrant.

So, thank you.

But every time I thought about all of it, I was back in the furious. And I'd still drive that truck if I weren't worried about the law and karma. Seriously.

And don't think I haven't been brainstorming for untraceable things one can do. I mean, so one could eliminate the fear of the law. Karma is another matter entirely.

If you have suggestions, I am open.

But you know, I was raised not to be angry. Seriously.

Because anger in women? Is so unattractive.

Positivity! Sweetness! Agreeableness! Those are attractive.

And of course attractiveness is Very Important. Because otherwise you might not get married. You also won't be attractive (and thus probably won't get married) unless you're thin. And tidy.

You think I'm kidding about this?

Skinny, tidy, cooperative. I've managed one of the three fairly consistently. I bet Nick would love it if I were tidier. And probably more cooperative. But he loves me loves me loves me for me (not to sound all Bridget Jones) just as I am.

Plus, I'm never actively working to bring down the household, so there's that.

If we have another kid and it's a girl, I swear I am not going to put this kind of fucked up stuff on her. Although apparently girls' self-esteem comes from their interaction with their fathers. Nick won't feed her these weird messages either.

Did you have these kinds of unhelpful messages growing up? If so, how have you dealt with these things in adulthood?


  1. Well, in my case, my father (and by father, I mean the woman who birthed me, as she is so clearly the parent behind most of my neuroses) made it clear that I existed to make someone else (her) happy - and if I didn't, it was clearly my fault. And I had SUCH a fun time using that template for my adult interpersonal relationships! Whee!

    I also, verrrry occasionally, took refuge in sarcasm. I know this is hard to believe.

    But then, I found a good therapist, who asked me questions like Why? and What do you want? And once I started thinking for myself, it got very easy.

    I will say that Dr. Taggart did teach me how to think for myself by example, even if it wasn't intentional. So perhaps you might look at that history, and take as examples the parts that seem right to you?

    Also, lots of men find occasional, passionate fury very attractive in a woman. Fortunately.

  2. Uh, the sarcasm part really surprises me.

    This is such a problem though, isn't it? That you do use it as a template for adult interpersonal relationships. Ugh. Until you figure it out. Thank goodness for therapists who ask why? And what do YOU want? And such.

    As for the occasional, passionate fury...I dunno that Nick finds it attractive, but we're pretty well matched in it.

  3. First, if you and Nick had a daughter - she would be cool, confident, wonderful. I grew up attending a Southern Baptist church. So, the fact I'm working, do not have kids and danced at my weddings are all evidence of rebellion (which is not to say all Southern Baptist churches send this message - it's just what I heard as a young girl). One of the most important moments in my life is when I realized marriage might not happen for me and it was my choice to share my life with someone or not. Messages from childhood are complicated and hard to understand but I think looking at everything as a choice helps - do I choose to focus on this, ignore it or change my perspective entirely and move forward in a different direction.

  4. Dagny? Sarcastic? NEVER!

    I grew up with the notion that it is unattractive for a woman to be quirky, the class clown, or outspoken. Girls laugh at the jokes, they don't make jokes.

    Which is clearly how I wound up with a humor blog.

  5. HKW - I hope so! I feel like there's so much more responsibility in raising a girl!

    And I didn't know you were raised Southern Baptist. You are so smart to look at everything as choice - you're exactly right on that.

    Shannon - That, coupled with the fact that you are hilarious AND you have a blog devoted to humor is , my friend, is really funny.

    And you know, I think there are so many more funny women than men. If we waited for only men to say things we could laugh at, we'd wait and wait.

  6. I was a tomboy and got, no boy likes a girl who wont wear dresses and had skinned knees from skateboarding blah lah blah.
    Now?? now I am still a tomboy at 44. I own my own boat and sports car and my own house and Boys still dont like me because apparently I am too independent and dont NEED them.
    I make them feel inadequate because I can fix my own car and have more power tools than they do. So I am told. :(

  7. Go-Betty - Wow! Good for you! It is hard, I think, because everyone should be independent and be able to take care of themselves...but then there's this fine line for women between independent and TOO independent. Whereas men are never called too independent.

    I was a tomboy as a kid and hated dresses but I never got that message. And I still skin my knees on God knows what and I have bruises on my shins because I walk into everything. But you can't tell because I usually wear pants.

    The man for you will recognize what an absolute treasure you are, and he would be delighted if you'd fix his car or lend him some power tools. And he'll make you dinner. :)

  8. Lots of therapy later, I know that we were expected to be perfect. Perfect perfect. If I couldn't be perfect, then I was worthless. Say that to yourself a few million times in your life. Nice, right?

    My issue now is, I totally over react when hubby says something to Jess or me that even remotely sounds like that. I'm hyper aware of the "you musts".

    Guess I need some more work, huh?

  9. this whole post kind of blows my mind.
    i definitely got all my bitter grudgeholdey stuff from my mom so i guess my dependency issues are what i got from my dad. i dunno, but raising kids and not fucking them up seem like the hardest thing in the world. i mean if they don't stab people i think you're doing a pretty damn good job!

  10. I was very lucky in that I grew up in a nauseatingly loving household in which our parents blew sunshine up our asses and told us how great we were from the day we were born. Which has its own ramifications, but I wouldn't trade it. My neuroses are mostly chemically-based -- which I inherited from my dad, but I can't really blame him for it. I hear about other people who grew up with parents that nagged or instilled feelings of inadequacy or inferiority, though, so I try to be very, very careful about how I talk to my children.

  11. i don't think it will surprise you that i think women should get angry - and express their anger - more often! why should an angry woman = an unattractive one?? ugh, right, such icky sexism that sets up that rigid of an equation.

    "skinny, tidy, cooperative" - eeesh i'd rather die :) and you and i both managed to find good husbands without fulfilling all the pre-reqs, so hopefully this is on the way out!

  12. Gah - I am raising a daughter after having been raised to be seen [i.e., be pretty] not heard and to be clean and deferential and basically be the shit scraper for my family and for the family I would marry into.

    Yeah, didn't happen and it's not happening for the Girl. There are still monumental blocks in my life that I chalk back up to my raising, but I'm working through them. Slowly.

  13. My three sisters are the reason for much of my self-loathing. They knew exactly how to make me feel bad, and how much they could hurt me with just a few words.

    We're all friends now, but that doesn't mean that I don't see some of the things they said to my face when I look in the mirror.

  14. Oh, I was just reading about Harriet Lerner's classic "The Dance of Anger". Have you heard of it? So many people I know have loved it. It is all about this topic!

  15. Luckily, my parents never put too much on me about being pretty or skinny or agreeable. Being smart, self-sufficient and thinking for myself were more the priorities. However, I was overweight as a kid and my dad used to call me Petunia Pig. It never really occurred to me that the nickname was offensive until I was much older. In fact, I'm not even sure if he knew it was offensive.

  16. cla517 - Boy, those are unfair extremes. Perfect or worthless. We all need some more work. It's the people who don't realize they need it that you have to worry about. It's good that you're so aware on behalf of your daughter.

    notsojenny - Hahaha! I will try not to stab anyone and keep fingers crossed that Jordan and any future progeny don't either!

    Wendy - You are definitely lucky. I don't think I know anyone else who was.

    kate.d. - No, doesn't surprise me. And I completely agree with you. I hope so, too!

    Suniverse - Your daughter is lucky to have you and your outlook in raising her. I think too many girls are probably still raised with the "be pretty" outlook.

    Miss Dallas - I would have a hard time getting past that, for sure. Why would you DO that to someone you love? How do they treat each other?

    artichoke - No, I haven't. But it sounds like a book I should read! Thank you!

  17. Kate - Smart, self-sufficient and thinking for yourself are such positive qualities - the ones I want to promote. I doubt he was trying to offend you. Yah, I don't think parents do it consciously, at least not most of them. It's so many little comments that add up to the messages we internalize.

  18. huh - where to begin, where to begin? long before i walked in on a private conversation *forty years ago* to hear my mother tell my sister "you are the pretty one," i knew that i was *not* the pretty one. so there's that!

    but mostly i would have to say it was the short-sighted notion from both parents that i would go to college, but NOT to gain useful skills that would lead to a job, because naturally, i would marry someone who could support me. i showed them!!

  19. LJ - Ugh. That's so unhelpful of your mother. And you know, I think that was the general assumption until not that long ago. Of course you go to college, but your husband will support you. I think (hope) generations following us are different.

  20. Uh, I was raised in SC by older parents, so HELL YEAH I got messages like that, and still am. My mom is appalled that I've taken up running and have gone so far as to run races! In public! In short shorts and getting very unappealingly sweaty! The horror.

    I handle it by getting pissed, bitching about it to anyone who will listen, and then redoubling my efforts to do things that appall her. :)

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