Sunday, March 16, 2014
He really was a beautiful heroin addict, with a face not unlike that of the death mask of Tutankhamun.
"Steffan, your face is so pretty I want to kiss it!"
"You'd have to shave first," he says.
Suddenly nervous, nonsensically, I shoot back with,
(His face is devoid of even peach fuzz)
"Yeah..." he says, "'cuz I'm so hairy!"
Metaphorically (inside myself anyway), I tug at my collar and then I turn, continuing down the basement stairs.
"Eve is the most beautiful transgender female I've ever seen," he says.
I roll my eyes.
"And..." he continues, "all without having ever taken any hormones."
I roll my eyes again.
He is sitting at the computer with no shirt on, his long-sleeved flannel tied loosely around his waist by its arms, despite his having a gut and two tiny, conical boy-breasts on full display. Why, from his perspective, I ask myself, is it necessary for me to shave my face in order for the loveliness of his countenance to be on the receiving end of my affections, but he can sit there with all that hanging out?
This time, before withdrawing from his presence, I retort jabbingly, "Huh - I don't know about all that, but I bet Eve would strangle a whole basket-full of kittens for a rack like yours..."
He says nothing, lost in fascination at whatever online fancy has engaged his attention. His double standard regarding what doth offend irks me and I cannot stop thinking about it all day. In the morning, I write in my journal, "I will not compare myself with another".
Watching Jane Birkin onscreen, I can't help but be distracted by her unfettered sixty-year-old breasts. She is wearing a thin, grey t-shirt (sans brassiere) and I stare, simultaneously transfixed in repulsion and admiration at her allowance of herself to be seen in such an honest way. I think at first she must not be vain and then realize she is wearing lipstick and that her hair is perhaps colored. I cannot say these are signs of vanity, only artifice, as perhaps the presence of a bra might be construed. While I cannot say I have compared myself much to Jane Birkin, I have compared myself with Raquel Welch more than once, and never flatteringly. In fact, it was watching Raquel Welch that, in part, called in the purple tide of impulses which first led me to begin taking estrogen and living as a female at age twenty-five. As a male who once took female hormones, I am left with small breasts of my own, a situation I have found less than thrilling throughout the years since discontinuing my hormone regimen. Add to this a heaping measure of deeply low self-esteem and I have often caught myself engaged ardently and quite faithfully stirring a neatly-constructed but rather mottled stew composed of pictures. These pictures are photographs, and at the insistent sloshings of my spoon, they bump against each other in a contradictory whirl of comparisons. They are the kind of photos one might flip through in a plastic surgeon's waiting room: before-and-after pictures. The images of less-esteemed physicality are always images of me. The correct, appropriate, beautiful (and worthy) imaged correlate with those beings who meet the standards of the world. "Cruel" is the word of summary which comes to mind: cruel standards and cruel behavior towards myself on my own part.
"My only regret is that I wasn't born beautiful."
-a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
My only regret regarding this quote is that anyone would harbor such a sorrowful thought about herself, a thought clearly based on the sad standards of a broken and hurting world. I read in the Bible this about beauty:
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way he holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."
And yet, when I see my own reflection in a looking glass, perhaps like Eleanor Roosevelt, I am disappointed. Later, of course I am disappointed that I care at all what I look like. I know better. Surely Eleanor Roosevelt knew better, too, I think, but maybe she did not. Perhaps there was inside of here a little girl who believed there is some intrinsic worth in measuring up to what the world says is good. There is inside of me a little boy who has for a very long time believed just that, but I've been trying to help him see that it isn't true, that I don't want to believe this anymore - that I cannot. It isn't what God made me for; to believe in lies.
Rallying, I move forward, this chant my current refrain:
"I will not compare myself to another,
I will not compare myself to another,
I will not compare myself to another."