I am the proverbial ugly duckling. There’s no uncertainty about it these days. I’m nearing the end of the story in terms of my physical transformation. The result of my efforts has not gone unnoticed- by anyone around me. I had several men turning around more than once to look at me while I was at dinner last Saturday. I’m experiencing this phenomenon in many social situations pretty much every day now. I catch some glances with a cool face and others I notice in my peripheral vision but don’t acknowledge. I was at the receiving end of a very chilly once-over by a woman who must have considered me competition (at least, that’s the catty look that I’ve seen other women giving each other when they feel threatened). It’s weird to be stared at. It’s even weirder to admit that it may not be due to a negative appearance or personality that I displayed for many years.
I’m used to being stared at or ignored (which would seem more merciful but is far from it), having doors shut in my face because the guy ahead of me didn’t think to hold it open for me. I’m used to snickering and condescending looks, pity for my size and perceived slovenly appearance. It was all that I knew. I didn’t realize how differently people are treated based on their appearance. It’s a “duh” realization; you always hear about the impact that appearances have on dating, jobs, raises, just about ANYTHING imaginable. But until you cross that line in either direction and experience it first hand, only then does the reality fully sink in.
I realize that I feel more vulnerable nowadays than I ever did when I was obese. The vulnerability factor has multiplied exponentially over the last year. I find that to be an odd and certainly unexpected consequence of the weight loss. Losing weight, working on becoming healthy, paying attention to one’s appearance- it’s all about finding control and balance in life. It’s a powerful statement of self love and self worth. But it’s not an easy transition.
I am not able to just go from a place of worthlessness to one of complete confidence. I question the motives of strangers (i.e. men) who are nice to me. I am leery of men who want to date me. Me? Are you kidding? Am I being punked or what?
Call me pretty and I think you’re a total liar. I have no other lens thru which to view my world. It is the lens of a former fat girl who still remembers her old life. The fat is no longer there (most of it anyway) but I can still feel it under my skin. I have broken through that self-imposed protective barrier that sheltered me from heavy doses of dating disasters, inappropriate sexual comments made in public (this time they mean what they say, as opposed to before when it was one big joke on one big girl), embarrassing stares- albeit cute when done respectfully, fashion & makeup flubs, as well as the glaring spotlight. As a girl who lived life on the fringes and found comfort in all that she knew to be true there, I can tell you that the spotlight is a scary, scary place for me.
My world has been turned upside down and inside out (and I want to stress that although this post is about the negative and scary aspects, there are many, many good things about my new physical self and the personality blooming because of it). The sky is no longer blue and in my world, that means I am no longer considered ugly. I have stepped into a brand new role and I haven't a clue as to what to do with myself sometimes. The closest and most appropriate analogy I can think of is that of a young teenage girl discovering the world of women through experimental hits and misses. I am
13 going on 30. I’ve had to learn all that a young girl would over several years. I have to make up for lost time and do it pretty quickly.
The particular type of woman that I am gravitating towards is fashion conscious (or obsessed for those who consider such things trivial), on the verge of being considered a shoe whore, considers makeup to be a positive enhancement to her appearance, and goes for the clothes that hug the curves. I make no apologies for my choices. I want to look attractive and I think I do through my wardrobe choices. I idolized the girls on ‘Sex and the City’ and I always wished I could feel “normal” (but we should already know that “normal” does not exist except in magazines like Architectural Digest, movies with double d starlets, and twisted ideals spouted from the lips of deluded cable news anchors and their guests). I feel like a woman for the first time in my life and I’ve had to face the repercussions from choosing to accentuate what I am.
One place that I have to experiment in is the world of dating. I’ve had boyfriends for 11 years now and yet… it’s a whole new ballgame since putting myself OUT THERE. I haven’t had much luck in the last year and my insecurities surrounding my new life certainly play into that. I took the plunge and looked at profiles of singles on a popular dating website this week as a sort of joke/dare. Having never taken to dating on the net, I wasn’t sure what I would encounter. Perhaps it was just the site I perused but I was a little shocked by the selection.
First off, let me insert a disclaimer here: I cannot spell without the help of a dictionary or the computer’s spell checker program. I never learned all the rules of grammar to the point of using them more correctly than say 75% of the time (I like
using ‘and’ at the beginning of a sentence, I’m not always sure when to end a paragraph and start a new one). I use the spell check tool and electronic thesaurus religiously. I read my writing, and then reread it, usually following up with a final skimming before I hit submit. I’m overly self conscious about my inability to articulate my thoughts both on paper and in person.
That being said, I cannot believe what I am witnessing on this site. There seem to be more misspelled words than all of my childhood written spelling tests combined. This goes way, way beyond the commonly misspelled or misused words. And I seriously wish I was kidding or exaggerating here. Although I can decipher what’s being said, I get completely stuck on the grammar, lack of punctuation or full sentences, and general disregard for professionalism- which seems to delete the pool of eligible applicants rather quickly. Do these guys realize how idiotic their profiles look to the general public? Did they take more than 2 minutes to think about what they were saying and how it might come across to someone of the opposite sex? It signals a couple of things to me: A disregard for self respect first off, a lack of respect for any potential dates they are trying to attract, a quick judgment on their education level, followed by thoughts of weighing their possible education level against actual level of laziness.
In addition to the possibly lazy or unskillful member profiles, there are so many rotten photographs used as profile pictures that I can’t help but wonder if it’s on purpose. I used this picture
as my profile. It’s clear and crisp and not overly suggestive. I think it’s a good representation of me (I did add recent full length shots too- so there’s no mistaking my body type and no one will assume I’m a skinny minnie). On the site, I see pictures mostly taken with camera phones and webcams. Many are fuzzy, exceedingly blurry and surely not reflective of physical looks- unless you consider a Picasso painting to be a true representation of the human face. I’ve seen several where the face is in a complete shadow. Any hint of physical features, pleasant or otherwise, is just not possible. I don’t consider myself overly shallow but I’d be a total liar if I said looks don’t play a part in my dating criteria. They do- probably like 99% of the rest of the human race. However, I do have a different idea of what’s beautiful, usually that which goes partially against the American cultural norm these days.
I actually sent a short note to one guy thanking him for having a totally legible profile, proper picture and witty commentary. I don’t think these men realize that they completely cut themselves out of the competition- at least from respectable women. Then again, perhaps my standards are too high if I’m looking at spelling and grammar to be an indication of respectability. But when it’s pretty much all you have to go on, you’re going to judge it critically. At least you should if you’re serious about finding love. Part of me does speak up though and questions whether I should use that as criteria, at least to the degree to which I do, when weeding through the singles. People have judged me solely on looks all of my life- rather harshly, I might add. They couldn’t look past the initial impression to see anything valuable to them. I do wonder if I am doing the same thing now, but in reverse?
The experiment continues....
Labels: Beauty, Fatness, online dating