Sunday, August 14, 2005

Changes in Perception

My best friend is a great person. We've been friends for about 10 and1/2 years. She's an interesting mix of street smarts, bubbly energy, and take-no-crap from anyone. Her nom de plume for my purposes here is "OzChick."

I first met OzChick because both of our families were new members of a medieval reenactment group. Our local chapter was recruiting new members, and OzChick and her husband, Fuzz, were among the new recruits. They explained that they would not be able to do very much within the organization at first, since they had six-month-old triplets. The children had been born prematurely, and needed some extra care, so they weren't going to be out and about for long periods of time.

I felt like we hit it off immediately. We had several hobbies in common, and I loved kids, so I was immediately enraptured with hers. It turned out that she actually lived about six houses down from me, and we had yet to have run into each other before this. We started talking, and hanging out at local club meets. As we began to get more into the club, we began to see more and more of each other, and pretty soon, it felt like we were inseperable. She was there through my pregnancy, and our kids grew up together.

The club fractured after a year or two, but our friendship remained strong. She's got such a great sense of humor that even through the turbulence of the breakup with all of these people we held in such high esteem, she managed to find humor in it.

A few years ago, we started working together. The administration quickly learned that they had to seperate us, because we'd be in the back of the room, giggling like schoolgirls, and causing trouble. They also know that wherever we are, laughter is sure to ring out soon.

It's such a surprise that I'm so jealous of her. Last year, she decided that she was tired of being overweight, and went on a diet. She's lost about 75 pounds by dieting, exercise, and just plain stamina. She looks great. She's getting noticed by men again, instead of being passed over because of her weight. She feels happier, more carefree. She's happy that she doesn't have to go to "fat lady" stores any more -- she can buy things off of the rack, and not have to worry that they won't fit. She's started to enjoy who she is again. I have always loved her -- it didn't take a major weight loss for me not to see the great person she is. I love her even more because she feels so comfortable in her own skin. It's the first time I've ever heard her say: "I looked good!" I'm jealous, not only for the weight loss, but also for the freeing of her spirit. I'm jealous in the good way, the way that friends who are happy for you can be. I always told her she was great, but it took her all this time to believe it, too.

The only thing that makes me mad is that people will often pass you over because of superficial things -- looks, weight, hair color. How many of the men who wolf-whistle at her now wouldn't have even batted an eye at her a year ago? How many people passed up a friendship because she was "too heavy" for them? And, that only begs the question -- what the hell do they think of me? I am a fat girl, too. I make no excuses -- I'm lazy. I could lose weight, but I don't exercise enough, and I don't have a lot of free time. I'm sure that if I really wanted to, I could *find* time, and I know I could eat less, or even healthier stuff. I guess I just haven't hit the wall where it's too much for me.

I get the "you'd be so pretty if you'd just lose some weight" lecture from my mother all the time. What really gripes me about that argument is that that statement tells me: 1) I am embarrassed of you, 2) You *aren't* pretty now, and 3) Your self-worth should be tied up in how you look. She doesn't do it to deliberately wound me, I think, she says she's just concerned about my health. I just want her, once, to just tell me that she loves me for who I am. That I'm beautiful just the way I am.

I'm very lucky that I have a husband who thinks that I'm beautiful. He tells me all the time that I am beautiful, and while I don't personally agree with him, I'm very glad that he feels this way, and I'm eternally grateful that he treats me as if I were the most beautiful woman alive. (If you're reading this, honey -- thank you!)

I guess, in the end, it all comes down to perception. OzChick changed herself, and altered her perception of herself. She didn't change her personality, or the things that she'd always done, she just changed the outward shell. JF has a completely different perception of me than I do. I should do more about my perception of myself, but that's a long, hard road to travel.

We all see things within us that we'd rather not reveal to other people. Jealousy, greed, lust. All these things, we not only try to hide from the world, but also hide within ourselves. I am jealous of my best friend because she has been able to do something I fear I shall *never* be able to do: like myself. She has changed who she is, and now she finally likes herself. I hope that one day, I will be that strong.


Songbird said...

KLee, this was one of the things I found so powerful about "Wicked," the idea that people could only see Elphaba's green skin and not her courage and integrity and, yes, beauty. (I refer to the musical.)
We do live in a superficial world, sadly. It's hard to know what to say to you about this except that I have struggled with appearance and perception and time and exercise. I have been thin and felt fat or miserable and been fat and felt fine! I think the important thing is to live as consciously as possible in our bodies--to allow our souls to truly inhabit our corporeal forms--to really incarnate. The rest is window-dressing.

liz said...

And we, out here in the ether, know how truly beautiful you are. Your soul shines through your posts.

And about losing weight...unless it's affecting your health, why should you? If it is affecting your health, then do it for that reason alone and start small and simple, by making just one healthier choice everyday (water instead of soda, walking instead of taking the elevator).

Big hugs. And a shout out to OzChick. It's such a phenomenal hurdle to change one's own perception of oneself.

Yankee T said...

Hugs. Been where you are and where she is. Shame that society does get us all balled up in what we look like. I think Liz makes a great suggestion-just take baby steps that are easy. You'll feel better about yourself. And HURRAY for the husband. He's perfect for you!

KLee said...

You guys are so supportive! Thanks for all of your encouragement. I think my main gripe about being overweight is that people automatically assume that I eat like a hog all day, every day. I don't really. I mean, don't get me wrong -- I like food, but eat things that are bad for me. All the stuff I love is just a heart attack on a plate.

I give lots of respect to OzChick because she's not only lost the weight, but she's gained the confidence. I always knew she was beautiful, and now other people see it, too.

My husband is great. (Remind me of this when we've had a screaming meltdown of a fight.) I'm so glad that he does think I'm beautiful, and while I think he's not exactly right in the head for thinking I'm a standard of beauty, I'm so flippin' grateful.

Dating was very hard for me. I'm sure it was hard for everyone, at one point in time. Never being pretty or thin, I was a butt of people's jokes and taunts. I once had some so-called "friends" videotaping a party (for which I was not present.) and one of the partygoers was being violently ill. (This goes to show you right away that they aren't stumping for a Nobel Peace Prize, inciting a friend to vomit, but I digress.)The rest of the party people were trying to make Guy #1 vomit by saying gross things to him. Someone shouted out "intestines", and "maggots" and then one *really* clever person (whom I thought was a friend) shouted out *my name.* As if this wasn't bad enough, everyone dissolved into helpless laughter while Guy #1 continued to vomit. And, then they mailed me the tape.

So, as you see -- I have serious "ish-ews." Not only from stuff like that, but all the other adolescent trauma that every other teen goes through. So, it's not like my case was special, I just felt more overwhelmed, I guess. I went to a very clique-ish private school in my formative years, and I was always one of the "outcasts." It was very hurtful. I will move heaven and earth with my bare hands and teeth before I let my daughter go through that.

Running2Ks said...

KLee, it is a struggle for me, too, and a lot of women to like ourselves.

I don't know what it is about men--they can lack hair and have too much belly, and they still go on as if they are the hottest thing since the sun. If I could bottle and share that, I would. Your friend worked hard, that is true. The greatest feat is loving herself, not the weight. You are a wonderful woman--it shows in your writing. You are strong and kind. And I am certain that when people meet you, they also see that beauty. There are many models out there who are ugly for what they have inside.

My mom's advice to me, when I would say that I couldn't believe my husband thought I was beautiful was, "Believe him, and don't try to prove him wrong." I submit that to you as well, and I offer support and hugs.

Beanie Baby said...

KLee, size issues are hard, no doubt about it.

I can tell you that overweight (whatever that means) people eat LESS on average than people of normal weight--does that help at all? Probably not.

It's horrible that we live in a world where a person's self worth and character are so often determined on the basis of something as superficial and meaningless as size.

I wish I had something helpful to say. I do believe that liking yourself is possible whether or not you ever lose weight.

RussianViolets said...

You are a totally beautiful person, KLee. But I know how much damage the "you'd be so pretty if..." talk can do you. I still hear it every time I look in the mirror.

KLee said...

Thanks, R2K's, RV, and Beanie Baby. I guess you just have to try and work hard at liking yourself. I struggle with it all the time.

I know it seems like I'm aways depressed from what I post, but I'm not! I'm actually the optimistic one in our family! (I know it seems like I'm a gloomy Eeyore all the time!) I just chose to focus on the really big things right away, apparently. :)

I never really plan ahead on what I post -- I don't give it all that much forethought. I just sort of sit down at the keyboard, and it all comes tumbling out.

So, hopefully, I'll find something funny to post about soo, because I'm driving all the readers off! :)

liz said...

They mailed you the TAPE?????!!!!!

Just gimme an address and I'm going to kick someone seriously hard.

And re: heart attack on a plate. Why is it that most of the best tasting foods are bad for us?

On the plus side though: Sweetwater's Salmon Salad. Good tasting and good for you.
Watermelon. Mmmmm....
Strawberries. Mmmmmm....

I'm working hard on mostly making good choices, but not depriving myself when something looks irresistably delicious. I'm trying to make smaller portions be my mantra, since I have such a hard time giving up the foods I love.

Juggling Freak said...

I'd just like to interject two things here.

1) You are beautiful, I don't care what you say.


2) I never held any of those people in that reenactment group in "high esteem"

Love you.

KLee said...

Aw. See why I love him? And, honey -- like I said, I'm very glad that you think I'm beautiful. *I* don't happen to think so, but I'm very glad you do.

And, I know you never held those people in high esteem. We were all snowed by them for a little while, though. It was more like "momentarily dazzled."

Liz -- yes, they mailed me the tape. Talk about fair-weather friends, huh? With "friends" like that, no wonder I turned out so warped!

Jenevieve said...

Yeah, I get that lecture all the time, too. One of the reasons I like Spokane better than L.A. is that people up here don't seem as tied up in fashion and such. I feel less self-conscious when I walk down the street. But my mom and especially my nana, who both live in L.A., tell me to lose weight frequently. My mom uses the "maybe you'd feel better if you..." lecture, but my nana just tells me, "Jeni, you are too fat. You need to lose wight." Boo.

KLee said...

Isn't that so nice of them?! I know that they're only trying to look out for us, but it still smarts to be told you're lacking in some way by the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally.

I hate that.

purple_kangaroo said...

Wow, KLee. This is an amazing post. I obviously don't know what you look like on the surface, but I do know this: You are a beautiful person. And I'm pretty sure that if we met IRL I would like you. I think we would be friends even if I didn't know you as KLee, the insightful, kind and articulate blogger.

Yankee T said...

Wait! Liz! Don't go to the ass-kicking without me! I've been saving my steel-toe boots for just this kind of occasion.

Oh, KLee, this story made me so sad and angry.

I heart Juggling Freak.