Friday morning at last! And I’m kind of happy this morning, because Bill sent me a message yesterday letting me know that he’s going to be home tomorrow, instead of on Wednesday. So I won’t be spending a boring weekend home alone. I mean, it might still be a boring weekend, but I won’t be spending it watching YouTube videos.
I’m feeling better today. The abdominal pain I was experiencing earlier in the week has mostly subsided. I still have a little annoying pressure, but it’s hardly noticeable. This is a good thing. I’ve been living a relatively clean lifestyle, for me, anyway… no beer or wine since Saturday, and no big meals. I just can’t be bothered when it’s just me. I usually cook a roast or a chicken or something and eat that all week, unless I get in the mood to cook. The older I get, the less interested I am in cooking, unless it’s for someone besides me.
I was looking through my Facebook memories this morning and I found a funny status update from 2012. I had a conversation with someone who reminded me of a relative who used to give me “self-improvement” gifts for Christmas and my birthday. One year, she gave me a workout video called The Daytona Beat. I still remember the hideous soundtrack, which included a very annoying and repetitive theme song that I won’t torture you with, except that they used the words “heat” and “beat”. I mean, Daytona is in Florida, right? I would expect it to be hot there, even in the 1980s.
Another year, she gave me a makeup kit from a fancy company. It was probably Estee Lauder, rather than my preferred Lancome. She probably got it for free when she bought cosmetics. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se. We all love the gifts that come with purchases at the cosmetic counter, except that the colors they give you are usually the ones no one buys. I don’t buy a lot of Lancome anymore, because it’s no longer that easy to get it from my usual source. So I do have some Estee Lauder makeup now, although I rarely put it on. Sometimes, I don’t even put it on when I make videos. I did put some on for Alex’s video a couple of days ago, but I didn’t do a full makeup job. It was near bedtime, and I didn’t want to have to take it off.
But the most tone deaf gift came when she presented me with Proactiv, which is an acne treatment system. I have never had particularly severe acne. Yes, I have had zits in my life, but never so bad that I would go to a dermatologist or consider using a special system. I remember her telling me that Proactiv had worked for her, and she’d gotten a “deal”. So she was sharing the wealth.
I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth. The truth is, I was kind of curious about Proactiv at the time, although I never ended up using the gift she sent. By the time she’d sent it, acne was no longer a big problem in my life. This particular sister is a lot more image conscious than I am. Generally speaking, I don’t really care too much about being a hottie. At my age, that particular ship has probably sailed. But even when I was younger, I didn’t really care too much about being super cute. I do wear makeup, and there was a time when I was more interested in dressing well and looking good. However, I was certainly never as concerned about my looks as she was, and it shows. 😉
I’m sure my sister was just being pragmatic. She saw areas in my life in which she thought I could improve myself. It probably didn’t occur to her that the message she was sending was potentially offensive to me. This kind of thinking is pretty prevalent among many people. They see an obvious “problem” and figure all you need to do to fix it is have the right tools. So, I could be thinner, fitter, and therefore cuter, if I just had a cheesy aerobics video to work out to in front of my parents’ floor model television.
I could have a prettier face if I just had some expensive makeup to slather on it, evening out the acne spots and blotches and bringing out my eyes, which are probably my prettiest physical feature besides my hair (which I’m now wondering if I should color again). Why wouldn’t I want to have a prettier face? Actually, the makeup was probably the gift that was the least offensive to me, especially when I was younger and didn’t have money for such things.
I could have smoother, blemish free skin if I’d just use Proactiv. And if I have smoother skin, maybe I’ll be more attractive to others. Being more attractive to others will lead to… what, exactly? Do I actually want to be more attractive to people who only care about what I look like? I’ve seen what often happens to pretty women. They tend to end up with men who treat them like trophies or just want to fuck them. Mind you, that’s not always the case… but it happens pretty frequently. See this post for an example.
It reminds me of the summer of 1997, just before I left Armenia for a month in Europe, then onward to home. At the time, there were a bunch of people in Yerevan trying to sell Herbalife, which is a supplement from a multi-level marketing company. Armenians apparently didn’t realize that, as an American, I come from the country where Herbalife originated, and I already knew about it. They used to stop me on the street to show me before and after photos, figuring I’d be interested in buying their crappy MLM product. Even if I’d had any money back then, I wouldn’t have been interested.
I’m sure they thought they were helping me, when what they were really doing was mortifying and humiliating me. It happened to me at least two or three times that I recall, and every time it happened, I died a little more and eagerly anticipated getting out of there. I was so obviously not Armenian, so people noticed me wherever I went. At that time in my life, I was also a very single virgin and wondering if I’d ever be attractive enough for a man. I pondered if I was just too ugly to live, or something. Fortunately, Bill came into my life two years later… and later, he literally came into me! (Yes, I know… super gross thing thing to write, even if it’s true. I never claimed to be classy.)
The traumatic Herbalife memories are one reason why I am a little apprehensive about going back to Armenia. I was just trying to go about my business, and people would actually stop me to talk about my “obvious problem” and offer to sell me Herbalife. It was beyond offensive, although I can intellectually understand why they did it. They probably thought of it as a win/win. I’d miraculously slim down to “acceptable” standards, and they’d make some much needed money. I’m sure it never occurred to them that I just wanted to be left alone. They had no idea that I spent years obsessing about my looks and body, thanks to comments from so-called “loved ones” who were just trying to be “helpful”. Fuck them. They should focus on themselves, and their peculiar need to “fix” people other than themselves.
I know I’ve written about this phenomenon a few times in my blog. I actually wrote a different version of this post ten years ago, on my original version of The Overeducated Housewife. I chose not to repost that one, though, because I realize I have different things to write about this trend of people feeling like they need to try to “fix” other people. In my original post, I focused more on how hurt I felt that my sister gave me several self-improvement gifts, seemingly without a thought about how that might come across to me. In this post, I feel more philosophical. More things have happened since 2013.
For example, a few months ago, a relative by marriage– supposedly a “friend”– complimented my looks based on a picture I shared that wasn’t even of me. And she didn’t know me well enough to understand that what she’d meant as a kindness was actually very offensive to me. I vented about the incident in my blog. She read it, got pissed off, and blocked me. I’m sorry she was upset by my negative reaction to her mistake. I’m sure she “meant well”, when she attempted to compliment me and failed spectacularly. Apparently, I should have just suffered in silence. Why is it that other people are allowed to be offended, but I’m not?
In fairness to my relative by marriage, she didn’t actually know me as well as she assumed she did, and didn’t realize that I have a lot of baggage that comes from the expectation that I should be “pretty”. If she’d been an actual friend, she probably would have been more aware… or at least would have been concerned that complimenting my looks, based on a picture of someone who isn’t even me, was pretty offensive. Especially when she laughed it off instead of apologizing. The photo she complimented was of a younger, thinner woman with longer, browner hair than I’ve ever had in my lifetime. It was also an obvious meme that had been passed around Facebook like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. Moreover, I don’t think she even read before posting, which is a chronic problem on the gamut of social media platforms. Maybe I shouldn’t have been hurt by that, but I was. Sorry, I’m (clearly) not perfect. Prick me and I bleed.
It’s taken me a long time to move beyond the way I used to think of myself when I was younger. I was much less secure then, which isn’t to say that I’m particularly secure today. But, at least today, I’m married to a man who truly loves me for who I am and doesn’t expect me to change. He doesn’t care when I say outrageous things. He doesn’t criticize the way I laugh. He doesn’t buy me gym memberships or gift certificates to plastic surgeons. He never looks at me in disgust, the way my parents did on multiple occasions, and complain about my appearance… or get so excited when I put on a dress and makeup that he pulls out the camera to take photos for posterity. My parents probably worried that my lack of attention to trying to be pretty was a poor reflection on them. They probably also worried that I’d never get anywhere in life.
I’m truly confused about my looks. I’ve been told I’m “pretty” by a number of people. Sometimes they even seemed to mean it when they said that. Other times, it seemed more like they pitied me… like the time I was at an ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting, and some guy exclaimed, “You’re so pretty!” and then started gushing about something that was kind of embarrassing at the time (don’t remember the details now, but I do remember how I felt). I think it might have had to do with my working at a restaurant and losing weight because I had no time to eat and was constantly running all day. I suddenly lost about 35 pounds, but I was also constantly sick.
I do believe the guy meant it when he said that; he was a good person who I truly think was trying to help me feel better about myself. I had a pretty low self image at that time, even though I was kind of blossoming then– losing weight, dressing well, getting haircuts, and wearing makeup. But then some time later another man– a different guy– from that meeting took me on a scary ride on the Colonial Parkway and asked me for sex. Maybe it’s safer to be ugly.
This is why I prefer to hang around with dogs. Dogs don’t care what you look like, as long as you feed them and take them for walks. Ditto to horses and donkeys and other farm animals. And you never have to worry about them propositioning you for sex because they think you’re “hawt”. Fortunately, I’m at an age now that even if I got really skinny and “cute”, most people would think I’m too old to “hit that”.
Anyway, my main point is, y’all, if you’re thinking of giving someone an unsolicited “self-improvement” gift, take a moment to consider how that gift will be received. If you truly care about the other person’s feelings and self worth, consider giving them something that doesn’t indicate to them that you think they need improvement. It will save you both a lot of angst. It’s also a much kinder and more considerate thing to do. Now, if they specifically ASK you for Proactiv or something else like that, that’s totally different.
Well, I guess I’ll get on with the day. It’s 10:00 AM, and I’m not dressed yet. But that’s a pretty normal thing for me. Hopefully, I won’t offend anyone by being a dumpy old housewife as I walk Noyzi. 😉