Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts.
Projected insecurities and narcissistic assumptions! I’d like to think that this brief glimpse of undiluted self-awareness will have a lasting effect on her, but I doubt it. Lena, dear, as long as we’re being honest and confessional here, you’ve never been fooling anyone but yourself. No amount of inspirational rhetoric about body positivity, no number of photos taken of you sitting naked on the toilet stuffing your face with cake, will ever change the fact that this has always been a sad, pathetic attempt to beat your critics to the punch by “owning” your weaknesses. Aggressively flaunting your insecurities doesn’t make them go away; it just becomes a new role for you to get trapped in.
That’s the weird thing about Generation Safe Space — for whatever reason, the pendulum has swung back into learned helplessness. There are countless people who are fat and unattractive but manage to accept it and get on with their lives. People like Dunham, or Lindy West, are especially tiresome because they clearly desperately want to be among the beautiful people, but rather than put in the effort necessary to achieve it, they try to pre-empt the possibility of failure by refusing to play, claiming the game is rigged, and like so many people who have sat through media studies classes, they think that there are no such things as innate preferences that can’t be re-engineered through advertising and lecturing. Honestly, diet and exercise, however tough it can be, is still much easier than wasting that time and energy on endless rationalizations. Changing your own habits is much more likely to succeed than subjecting society to a propaganda barrage in the hope of making obese homeliness the new beauty standard. And, you know, most people, even the beautiful ones, still have fears and insecurities. They just refuse to allow their lives to be defined by them. Whatever happened to simply refusing to give a shit about the opinions of superficial people who judge you on appearance?