Mamamia Rogue

willferrellWho’s got two thumbs, speaks limited French and has gone and got herself a swanky new job? This moi.

As of today I’m the Editor of Mamamia Rogue – Mamamia’s new section devoted to fun and feisty editorial content. Allow MM Publisher Mia Freedman to explain:

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 11.41.31 PMThat’s me!

So get yourselves over to the site: www.mamamia.com.au/rogue

But more importantly, make sure you get updates on awesome new content by LIKING THE MAMAMIA ROGUE FACEBOOK PAGE RIGHT HERE. (Subtle much?)

This is gonna be fun!

Dustin Hoffman made me cry today.

I cried while watching a 3 minute YouTube clip today. A heaving snot kind of cry.

The video was an interview from the AFI archives with Dustin Hoffman, in which he discusses the 1982 film Tootsie, where he played a struggling actor who dresses as a woman to try and get more auditions.

The clip ends with him saying: “That was never a comedy for me.”

That’s where I lost my shit.

Why? Because Hoffman had just described the moment that he realised how heartbreakingly unfair it is that women are valued for their looks above all else.

When he was in full Tootsie female make-up for the first time, Hoffman looked in the mirror and realised that he didn’t think he was an attractive woman. That if he met this woman at a party, he would never engage in conversation with her. That’s in spite of the fact he knew this woman was intelligent, interesting, funny and charming (it is him, after all). None of that mattered, because she just wasn’t pretty enough.

And when Hoffman realised the injustice of not only how he’d been valuing women, but how almost everybody values women, he could do nothing but cry.

He said he realised: “There’s too many interesting women I have… I have… (holding back tears) I have… not had the experience to know in this life because I’ve been brainwashed.”

I think I was crying at this point in the interview because I am one of those women. Despite being interesting, funny, smart, successful, talented and engaging, I am completely overlooked by men because most of them value looks above all else, and my looks don’t meet the expected standard.

I don’t mean to generalise here or to put all men into the same box, but this is my experience: 5 years ago I weighed 70 kilos less than I do now, and I received copious amounts of male attention. Now I receive none. None. And nothing about me has changed except my looks. That equation seems pretty clear to me.

If anything, I’m more confident than what I was then, as gaining weight has forced me to explore concepts of beauty and value in a way that I had never even thought about before. My priorities have shifted, and I’m much happier for it.

I have pretty much lived out my journey to self-acceptance on the Internet for the last year or so. It started with an article in which I wrote about how much I hated myself because of my weight gain. I read it now and now and it makes me cry. Coming out of the ‘fatty closet’ was humiliating at the time, but I honestly have not regretted it for one second, because realising how utterly broken I was as a result of my size sent me on a quest to do something about it.

And no. I did not go on a diet.

I started seeing a specialist who helped me realise that I deserved to love myself. The PTSD and eating disorder behind my weight gain was explored, obviously – understanding the reasons behind a 70-kilo weight gain are clearly important. But mostly we just looked at how I can learn to love myself RIGHT NOW, regardless of how I look. I struggled with this concept, as I had always thought that I would be worthless until I had ‘lost all the weight’.

Never mind that I had survived a childhood filled with mentally ill and addicted parents, 17 schools, more houses than I can remember, foster care, DOCs, being split from my sisters, only to grow up and face my own mental health issues as a result of the trauma, getting though that, going to university, getting a degree, supporting myself, and generally ending up a pretty well-rounded individual.

I still thought I was worthless because I had gained weight.

But after writing that first article where my self-esteem had pretty much hit rock bottom, I then went on to write this, and this, and this, and this. Basically, I was going through a complete shift in my thinking.

I was realising that my weight wasn’t a sign of me being worthless, my weight was a sign of me being A FUCKING SURVIVOR. I realised that despite all the setbacks, I was kind of kicking life’s arse.

By learning to place value on qualities other than my looks, I learned to love myself. And I love myself now in a way I don’t even think I did when I was thin.

And that’s why the posts about my weight kind of tapered off. Because it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind anymore. I started to focus on the things I actually like about myself, rather than the things that I don’t. My weight became a non-issue. And, for the first time since I had gained weight in my life, I was valuing myself for something other than my looks. And I was happy.

But.

Despite learning to value parts of myself other than my appearance, I cannot control what other people value about me, and unfortunately, when it comes to the opposite sex, my looks are valued above all else.

This interview with Hoffman made me cry because I know how it feels to be that girl in the bar who is ignored.

I know how it feels to not even get into the bar because of how I look.

I know how it feels to get asked out regularly at one weight, only to NEVER (literally, never) be asked out at another, despite being exactly the same person.

I know how it feels to be valued for how I look, and for men to decide that they’d rather pass, thanks.

And it fucking sucks. Because after coming so far in my quest for self-acceptance, after jumping so many hurdles in an effort to love and value myself for the right reasons, there’s one hurdle that I have no control over: I cannot control what other people value about me. And looks seem to be the most important thing.

I know that getting to a point of feeling great about myself only to get upset about boys not liking me seems a bit lame. I get that. But I don’t think figuring out that I’m not just a visual prop for men and wanting to find a loving partner have to be mutually exclusive.

I wouldn’t trade the woman I’ve become for anything – if someone told me I could lose all this weight tomorrow, but I’d have to forget everything I’ve learned in the last year about worth and value and go back to thinking my looks are what matter most, I’d say no. 100% no.

I would much rather stay this weight and be a self-possessed woman who’s confident in what she values about herself, than lose this weight, find a man, and always think my looks are the most valuable thing about me.

But. Again with the ‘but’. Everybody wants to be loved. Including me.  And it does get tough sometimes, realising that every man I meet overlooks all the great things about me because of my size.

I cannot control what other people value about me, and unfortunately, looks top the list. I have not met one man in the last five years who has proved to me otherwise.

So thanks, Dustin Hoffman, for giving me hope. Here’s hoping there’s more like you out there.