Day 10: My Angry Protest against What “They” Tell Me (about how I look)

21 Feb

Do you know Margaret Cho? She is a Korean-American comedian who is a huge deal. I never got into her stuff, but I have always known that she is an outspoken (and fabulous) woman who never avoids speaking her mind directly, especially against gender injustice and homophobia. And I recently heard of her response to Karl Lagerfeld’s comment on Adele, calling her “fat.” Cho responded with rather stern, direct, sarcastic and angry blog post that made me fall in love with this woman.

Karl Lagerfeld is a legend who has led big time fashion houses like Chanel and Fendi, and his comment does reflect a lot about how fashion (and media), the object of human fascination, has actually encouraged us to objectify ourselves so that we identify our bodies with the material. I do enjoy fashion and style and what not, but I was seriously angered by this outrageous junk that he blurted out. What angered me the most is not simply the comment, but more of the helplessness that I felt about how women are forced to feel terrible while we consume the images that the media produce. Let me talk about this simply from my perspective.

I have constantly been exposed to what “they” tell us, and they seem to reflect how I am supposed to look and behave. And heck, I have been constantly feeling bad about my own body, because I don’t have a face like that girl who is advertising Chanel whitening cream (who is White to begin with), I don’t have a body like Angelina Jolie (and alike) and I probably can’t even possibly fit into the clothes that the K-pop girl bands wear. They have constantly told me that I’m supposed to look like that since I could remember, and the constant feeling of being “not good enough” has always been there. I shrank myself from the world, because everybody told me that I am probably not good enough for anything. Really, what does it take to become a beautiful person? Just my façade that looks good to everyone else, but never good enough to me that I feel the pressure to get plastic surgery on every single part of my face and body? What about what I have inside of me? My intelligence, my genuine heart, my potential, and my feelings? Do they count at all? Well, never mind, all I need, according to them, is just a pretty face and a nice body to be a confident, whole human being.

Dear Lagerfeld and alike, maybe you just need to build factories to produce the “ideal” bodies and images that you would like so that you can hang your clothes on them. Don’t try to make me be your clothes hanger (heck, I probably won’t be able to afford any of them for the rest of my life, and I don’t even care). Kindly, shut up.

Margaret Cho writes:

It sounds complex because it is terribly complex, but curiously simple and plain. When you see someone you identify with, who has a body that could be your body, and you recognize it on the screen because you remember it from the mirror and you watch them shine and conquer and overcome and overwhelm and startle and take over the world, you think you can do the same. It gives you strength. It’s powerful, indescribably so.

Now, I refuse to let them define me, who I am and how I am supposed to be. I will never be free from their noises, and it’s incredibly difficult to not to hear them. But hey, I will choose to tune them out, because they are too loud for me to concentrate on my inner voice. I’m gonna shine the way I want, both inside and outside.

I love you Margaret.

I love you Adele.

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