NOTE: While I try to keep ableist language out of my mouth, sometimes the world decides to put it in, without my permission.
Now that I can’t avoid the “I Feel Pretty” movie ads, I have to talk about them. What I have gleaned from them is that a woman suffers a traumatic brain injury in spin class and suddenly sees herself as beautiful. Sure, she might actually see that confidence is a beauty booster all along, but there is a disturbing point I must address. The point is, the movie says people who feel pretty must be crazy.
How is that a positive message? You must be brain damaged to be confident? How is that positive? Sure, you may not be a stick thin Kate Moss or Keira Knightley, but maybe you’re prettier than you thought. Take a look at the positives: you might have beautiful eyes or skin, or even good hair.
I had to learn I was pretty the hard way – by looking back at pictures of my past, when my beauty had faded, and seeing how pretty I really was. Maybe if the regular girl was taught that natural beauty was not a delusion, maybe she would not learn she was pretty the hard way either.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked…
Read more: Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Take a look at this girl. Isn’t she pretty?
The girl had no clue.
The truth is, this is a picture of me in my teens. At the time, I did not measure up to the skinny beauties of Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford. I was a curvy girl. At the time, it was either ultra-skinny, like Kate Moss, skinny with boobs, like Cindy Crawford, and fat. There were no Kardashians; there were no Ashley Grahams. There were no models to see that I was acceptable, and no way I could be pretty at the time.
Now I look at the Kardashians, and at Ashley Graham, and I am jealous that I am not younger. I am jealous that I did not have the chance to be pretty just by being myself.
I’m forty now. Who knows how much potential was wasted because I did not deem myself acceptable? My mother and I live together, and I have little chance of getting out. I have no children. Of course, that is probably my fault. I vowed to have no children because I did not want them to go through the bullying I went through. (I even broke up with a boyfriend due to bullying in younger years.) I guess the bullies won in my life. Maybe I am a cautionary tale. Maybe I am not supposed to have children.
Maybe I had to actually see my beauty after it had faded to really appreciate it. Sad thing is, maybe if I knew I was pretty, I would have taken better care of myself.
Why do people need to act and believe their cartoons? Cartoons are what happens when people believe their stereotypes.
Here’s the problem with stereotypes: most people believe them, at least secretly.
Here is an example: A later episode of What Not to Wear featured a woman who dressed so feminine, she acted like a cartoon. Now this is an extreme example, but it is very close to stereotypes regarding women. A giant beehive, tons of bubblegum makeup, strands of pearls, and super-high heels.
Another example? Willie, a character in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A most annoying and ingratiating character, yes, but she seems little more than a bundle of stereotypes. I’m not laying the blame at Capshaw’s feet, though. She is among a class of people who can portray anyone. The character was written stereotypically, the damsel in distress. Well, the damsel in distress was largely out of fashion by the 1980s, thanks to the introduction of Princess Leia and other more participatory lead women. Most people dislike the character of Willie, and she is counted among the most annoying characters ever put to film.
My point about bringing up the damsel in distress, and the character of What Not to Wear, are that these women are literally cartoons of femininity. The problem with cartoons is, most people believe them. They are detrimental to things like peace, love and understanding. I brought up feminine stereotypes because they are ones I am closest to, but here’s a good example of detriment: How many persons of color have been followed in a store because the people who work there think the person of color is an automatic thief? How about all the women who have been denied their autism diagnosis simply because they are women? There’s the “aggressive, savage” black person, the “hysterical” Hispanic, and the “math genius-ninja” Asian. Sure, there are a few people who fit the stereotype, but most of them do not. Let me break it down: Who is going to listen to someone “hysterical”? Who is going to stock up on guns to protect themselves from the “aggressive savage”? Most people are fighting the cartoon version of their kind daily.
Why can’t people be real?
I have a problem. There is a dearth of people with autism who like to wear makeup. Sure, some of us autistic people may dislike the look and feel of makeup on their faces, but not me. I love the way my makeup makes me look and feel. Also, once fashion, or more appropriately, style, was demystified for me, I figured out how to use it, too. I like makeup, I like fashion, and I have autism. So why am I nonexistent in the media?
I have a feeling that I am not supposed to be womanly and autistic at the same time. I feel like I am wrong and rebellious when I am in makeup and stylish clothes. That to be autistic, I have to abandon my genuine likes and my being myself in order for people to believe me. I feel weird and like an outsider for being both autistic and girly, or womanly. I also feel this is wrong. So, tell me, media, where are the girly autistics?
Has anyone noticed that the “regular” size of women in Hollywood is double zero? Not even zero anymore. Even a size 2 is now fat in Hollywood. Unless, of course, you’re one of the very few women in the media who’s actually obese. I could call out most of these women by name and count them on one finger. Kathy Kinney, Chrissy Metz, and Melissa McCarthy are the only ones I know of. But I’m not here to judge them, or the super-small waifs who usually grace the screen that there’s almost nothing left of.
It’s mostly the directors’ fault. Twiggy would look fat next to these women, and Twiggy is an admitted anorexic. I mean, what do they use to judge women’s bodies – a broomstick?
Of course, maybe it’s the sexist environment that contributed the #MeToo movement that cause the love of women with eating disorders. Maybe they want the women to be abuseable. And a woman who is obsessed with how she looks to men is definitely abuseable.
After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.
I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.
Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.
Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.
What else can I say about Holiday décor and bustle? Here are a few tips I have picked up along the way:
- Keep It Simple. You may have to avoid things like putting up a tree until they can handle it better, or ever, but keep the decorations simple. I know that by looking at my house, you may not see this tip in place, but it is there. We have picked a simple color scheme and stuck to it.
- Tradition, Please. Now, I’m pretty sure that whatever level you have the decorations and bustle at, be sure that all the traditional elements will be noticed. This one is better kept in my arena. All the decorations I have up are tradition – a fancy word for Christmas Routine. We put up the tree, put out the Nativity (we’re Christian), decorate the main areas of the house, and it’s all now routine to me.
- Keep. The. Routine. The Christmas Tradition is all a routine you keep, stretched out over a time span of about a month, depending on your holidays. Now, I’m going to talk about routine a little more, because it’s a comfort for us autistic people. The upset routine is upsetting. To us autistic people, it’s like saying sheep have wool, but it somehow seems to get lost on non-autistic people. It’s like a child who has naps about midday not having his midday nap. We get cranky and upset.
- Have a Refuge Ready. A refuge from all the hustle and bustle is necessary, and has been advocated as a must by autistic advocates since the early days of Temple Grandin. I’m sure my mother finds it weird that I barely talk while we’re in the car going somewhere, even without music. The thing is, it’s a refuge that is portable. Perhaps we autistic people, or our caretakers, need to seek out a refuge for the person, just in case they need to, say, relax the senses for a while.
- Try to Empathize. Yeah, yeah, I know the stereotype. Autistic people aren’t supposed to be able to empathize – that is dead wrong. It’s been my experience that non-autistic people lack the empathy unless they actively practice it. Think about it – imagine you are at a loud concert, in front of a throbbing speaker, and imagine that all the time – you may begin to be able to empathize as to what we go through. I beg of you, try to think of what we go through. We’re trying to communicate it. Listen.