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People who are sensitive to other people’s feeling and try to not hurt them often don’t need to consciously try to be “p.c.” Occasionally, because I can’t always anticipate how other people feel, I make mistakes, but generally I don’t like to make people feel bad about themselves. (Admittedly, I think Joachim Phoenix does not read my blog. If he did I would be much more tactful.) Not only do I not make fun of people who are members of groups that I’ve been taught are politically marginalized, I don’t make fun of overweight people, short men, ugly people, people who are missing teeth, or any of the variety of traits that often make people feel bad about themselves.

I am hairy.

I’m half tempted to turn off the comments because the last time I brought this up I had several people say insensitive things. Yesterday, in a comment thread elsewhere, I read a comment in which a man made fun of hairy women.

I was born with very dark hair and very light skin. Worse yet, my skin is very delicate, having bad reactions to a wide variety of things. I have to be careful about what soaps I buy and what laundry detergents I use. I stay out of the sun. There’s really not much I can do about that. I’ve tried. I’ve tried different lotions and other things. The best solution is simply to avoid things that irritate my skin.

My hair, on the other hand, can take a real beating. I can bleach it, dye it, perm it, blow it dry, set it in curlers and it still looks soft and healthy. I have no idea how long it could grow. I’ve had it long enough to be able to sit on it. It grows quickly, too. This is great on my head, but on the rest of my body it’s undesirable.

Because it’s dark, it’s highly visible. I’ve seen blondes who appear to have body hair that’s denser than mine, but it’s harder to see. Because my skin is sensitive, I am limited in ways of removing it. Because it grows quickly, I have to do it often. On top of all that, I’m prone to ingrown hairs. This is not a small thing. I once wound up in the hospital because an ingrown hair had gotten infected. I had to have intravenous antibiotics. This is one of the very few health problems I’ve had in my life. I stopped shaving my legs after that. I tried waxing. That caused even more ingrown hairs. Chemical depilatories burn my skin before it affects the hair.

When I talk to other women, I get the feeling that I am slightly less inclined than average to be interested in my appearance. I am not entirely uninterested, but I don’t enjoy spending lots of time worrying about my hair or painting my nails. It bores me quickly. I’d much rather do something else with my time. However, I don’t want to be alone. I like sex. I would like to have much more sex than I am currently having. Currently, I’m a little bit lonely and very sexually frustrated. Men, however, will not be interested in me unless I spend a lot more time and money on my appearance than I would if I followed my own inclinations.

In the interests of making myself desirable to men, I have spent a hell of a lot of time, and way to much money, trying to get rid of body hair. Finally, I got the laser hair removal, a very expensive and time-consuming process, done on my legs. I still have to shave under my arms and I haven’t yet come up with a solution for the pubic area.

Women are no better than men in this regard. They make fun of me, too.

I am alone and I don’t want to be alone. Men don’t have to remind me that I’m too unattractive to be loved. I know that every night of my life.

Sometimes going on the internet feels like I’m opening myself up to emotional abuse that I don’t otherwise get in my daily life. Men on the internet seem to think that comments making fun of traits they find unappealing is normal behavior. Sometimes, I take breaks from the internet for no other reason than this.

It would be an exaggeration to say my mother and I nearly came to blows over dinner tonight, but we definitely exchanged harsh words. At the end of the meal, I said that I was still hungry and that we hadn’t eaten nearly enough. She balked. Now, we’re not “counting calories,” but I do find looking at the calories can be something of a reality check. So far today, we’ve had yoghurt with berries, an omelette with some peppers and a green salad with some crabmeat. At one fifty for the yoghurt, another one fifty for the eggs and eighty for the crabmeat, I’d be surprised if we topped eight hundred calories today. She nearly went ballistic when I helped myself to half a matzoh and a handful of nuts. I had to remind her that she asked me to help her, not the other way around. I told her that this is exactly her problem. She’s been bellyaching all day about how she hasn’t lost any weight yet, although we’ve only been on the damn diet for a week. I explained that what she does is deprive herself and then binge. I find myself saying stupid motivational things like, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” We went to the gym earlier today and I increased the weight I’ve been using. I don’t think three balanced meals is excessive.

I’ve made references several times to my “beauty strike” which I gave up last fall but had lasted a couple of years. People in general, but especially women get really fucked up notions about their bodies, food, weight, beauty. I find that every so often I literally have to deprogram myself. These things start seeping into your mind whether you want them to or not. While I know that I am no longer what people would call “thin” I also know that what I see when I look in the mirror is not realistic. More accurately, I should say that what I think a normal, healthy person looks like is not realistic.

My mother, who considers herself a feminist, is and has always been obsessed with other women’s appearances. She would say constantly when I was growing up, “You look so much better with make-up on.” Despite being a die-hard feminist myself, I wore make-up every day of my life from the age of thirteen until about three or four years ago, with the exception of the years I was in college. I started shaving my legs at ten. I went on a diet for the first time at eleven or twelve. I’ve been working really hard for the past few years to divorce my self-esteem from my appearance, above all my weight. Intellectually, I know this is bad, but it’s so deeply embedded in my subconscious.

The other day, we were standing in the grocery store aisle. She took out one of those celebrity rags. It had pictures of movie stars in their bathing suits on the cover. She quickly thumbed to the article. “Look at that! Oh, my! Who’s that? She looks awful.” And so on. A long monologue critiquing other women’s bodies. Even if she didn’t say anything about me directly, I would still get the message.

All my mother wants to talk about is how other women look. Barbara, a woman with whom my mother used to work, has “legs like a racehorse,” the sort of legs my mother tells me she wishes she had. I have better legs than she does and my sister had better legs than either of us. I don’t, as she observed earlier today, have a “fat back.” Her former boss has a flat ass. “That’s terrible. I hate flat asses.” “Did you see the really fat women at the gym?”

Anyway, I just needed to look at this in a conscious fashion because if I don’t it is more likely to seep into my subconscious and simply start making me feel bad about myself. Actually, I should say worse. I’ve never felt good about myself. I’ve always felt ugly and since the only value I feel I have is in my appearance… ech, well it all just goes around in a circle. I’ve come to realize I’ll never be happy. Every day of my life is misery. I’m just garbage taking up space. I wish no one would look at me. I just want to go in my room and hide.

Damn. I hoped writing about this would make me feel better. It seems to have made me feel worse.

In some of my memories, I’ve mentioned a friend I call “Luscious.” When we first met, I was like my mother. I didn’t even realize it, but I also often critiqued women’s bodies. She would point it out to me and sometimes she’d get mad. She really broke me of the habit of judging other women by their appearances. Unfortunately, it never had a rebound effect on myself. I’ve tried to talk to therapsists about this, but they’re just not interested.