The Art of Looking Ridiculous
Today’s guest post is from Elizebeth Turnquist, her blog is About Being Different. When Elizabeth submitted her posts for consideration, she stated;
I’m very open and out about who I am. I’m a geeky wierdo and proud of it. I understand if my voice doesn’t fit in
with your community. Regardless, I greatly respect what you’re trying to do. My theory is that the more voices that speak up the more likely we’ll get heard.
Well, we love geeky around here….weirdos even more, so she was a shoe-in. Plus, her writing is hard-hitting and thought provoking. I am sure you will all enjoy this post as much as I did.
My mother was born with a cleft palate. The facial deformity meant that she expected to be stared at. And, as I was growing up, these expectations lead her to act out in public places. I don’t know if she was living up to or defying the stares, all I know is that I was embarrassed. Over time I learned to temper my embarrassment and eventually I even joined into her little performances.
The other day, as I was limping up to the bus stop, I had to remind myself that I have no problem with people’s stares or snickers. Earlier that day, in a rush, I ended up tanking my husband bike instead of mine. Less than a minute into peddling, as the shooting pain from cramps radiated down my legs, I realized the mistake I’d made.
Only uncommonly unkind people would snicker at a girl limping down the street. But I’m not a common girl. I’m a moderately obese woman. I have blue hair. And I tend to dress in bright shades of pink or purple. The picture presented to the worlds was of a fat woman, with short blue hair, dressed in pink, and limping as she dragged a bike down the street.
I’ve been fat all my life. As an adult I’ve become a size acceptance activist. I’m used to my weight encouraging ugly catcalls of ‘fat bitch’ from strange cars as they wiz by. My weight, by itself, would only bring snickers from that small portion of the population that’s bigoted enough to shout obscenities at strangers.
But then we come to my hair. I stat dying it unnatural colors right before I turned 30. In the last few years it’s jumped from pink to purple to red to blue, depending on my mood. Even more so than my clothes, my hair is a statement.
My mother didn’t have a choice in the stares she received. I think she would have been just as happy to blend in. But I suffer from a different kind of deformity. My insides don’t match my outside. Without the blue hair and crazy clothes it takes time for someone to realize I’m a freak.
I spent years getting excited about new friendships only to be disappointed. To find that, in the long run, they weren’t up to being friends with who I really am. After all those disappointments I decided to make it more obvious. To put my weird on the outside. Some people dye their hair funky colors because they want to be the center of attention. I dye my hair as a warning.
Dying my hair brings its own set of complications. Some think that adding blue hair to a fat woman is a joke just waiting to be laughed at. Also, I tend to attract drunks and drug addicts. They see my hair and assume I ‘party.’ But I don’t party. I barely drink, let along foray into the illegal realm of the drug culture.
I wouldn’t call myself ‘normal.’ This is the age of the cool nerd and I’m a geeky neophile. I’m into what’s new and interesting. I want to try on life and all it has to offer. I have a kind of bohemian view of life and many of my values don’t match up with the mainstream. I try not to break laws but I’m pretty flagrant in my defiance of social norms.
No one pointed as I walked to the bus stop. They didn’t need to point. Three people (in a row) put a hand up to their face and chuckled as I walked by. If only one person chuckled I could had dismissed it as paranoia on my part. But three isn’t so easy to dismiss. I wondered, for a second, if maybe my fly was open or if I had something on my face. But when I sat down and checked myself it was clear the chuckles were aimed at my general appearance.
I sat on that bench and realized that I’ve perfected the art of looking ridiculous. Instead of wishing the world was more tolerant and understanding, I want to be seen for who I really am. If they were laughing at me, then they’re confirming I’ve succeeded in my goal.
I’m very aware that fewer people would laugh if I tried to blend in. They’d still laugh because I’m fat. Some would even laugh because I’m fat and limping. But then the joke would be on me. Their laughter would be pointed and cruel. I have to admit that their laughter would hurt more if I was trying to fit in.
I’d much prefer to beat them to the punch. To write the joke on my terms. It makes me feel like I’m choosing my fate instead of suffering from what I can’t change. Even if that choice means that I look ridiculous. I’d rather perfect the art of looking ridiculous than to be the butt of their joke.