Excuses and Explanations
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I have a hard time updating this blog regularly. I didn't set out to write an exclusively feminist blog, but somehow it turned into that since feminist issues are usually the ones that get me fired up enough to write. Now that the blog has become that, I am sometimes reluctant to post things that don't fit into the whole feminist blog paradigm-- silly little stories, random quotes, offhand observations that have nothing to do with patriarchy or misogyny or women's place in a world that is ever-changing. Although I know it's my blog and I can do anything I damn well please with it, I feel like I should have some kind of unifying theme to my writing here, something bigger than "all things Molly."
I suppose I should just say "fuck it" and write whatever I want.
This blog has, in many ways, become the space in which I grapple with my identity as a woman, a wife, a twentysomething college graduate with murky ambitions and potential limited only by the glass ceilings against which I fear breaking my lovely and delicate nose. I am finally, at almost-26, coming to grips with the fact that I'm an adult now, that I am married and might potentially become a parent within the next few years, and struggling with the implications of these choices on my economic prospects. I'm trying to find a job, and I've met with the frustrating reality that despite my newly-minted diploma from Oregon State University, I am qualified only for the exact same jobs I was doing before I went back to school-- jobs that rarely pay more than about $12 an hour. I've set my sights on a Master of Library Science degree program, which means another three years of school and who knows how many thousands of dollars in new student loans, and the end result-- being employable as a librarian-- sounds like something out of a gorgeous dream, but how will this economic goal affect my personal life? What if, in three years, there is no job market in this area for librarians? Can I expect my husband to pick up and move if I find a job elsewhere? What if it doesn't pay well but offers significant opportunity for advancement? Where are the lines in these potential conflicts? Obviously, this is a take-it-as-it-comes situation, yet another scenario in which I drive myself crazy pondering the what-ifs, but the fates of women who have come before me have made me wary of being too willing to sacrifice my personal goals for marital peace, and I worry sometimes that that caution will lead me to be too inflexible, too stubbornly determined to achieve my own goals, and then I wonder if there really is such a thing for a woman.
Concepts of body image and health-consciousness are also a constant roiling mess in my head as I fight to define for myself what constitutes "health" and "attractiveness" and how hard I should strive to achieve each of them. Two of my close female relatives had plastic surgery this year (two boob jobs, a tummy tuck, and some liposuction), and my own reaction to the news really threw me for a loop. I've always known that my body cannot fit the ideal of "hotness" and it never will; no matter how hard I work out or diet or how much makeup I wear, I will always have round hips and a 32A chest, and I will not look proportionate in tight clothing. I have a pretty face and a reasonably trim figure, but I am not "HAWT" and I never will be.
It was always a great comfort to me to see those older female relatives with bodies like mine living successful and happy lives, and it gave me hope that someday I might be able to accept myself as I am. Then two of my role models had surgery to change their bodies. It seems like the right thing to do is to say I respect their decisions, and while I do understand perfectly why they both did it, it has nonetheless been dismaying to me to recognize that women in their 40's and 50's who are shaped like me have come no closer to accepting their bodies than I have. I don't respect their decisions. In fact, I sort of hate them for those decisions. Of course they have no obligation to leave their bodies unaltered just so I can feel better about my own predicament, but it really is disheartening to see older women struggling with the same feelings of inferiority that I face, and it depresses me to know that it doesn't necessarily get easier with age. I truly hope that I will never grow so dissatisfied with the way I look that I'm willing to have surgery to change it, but who can say how I'll feel in 20 years? It infuriates me to think that I might still be striving for "fuckability" as a (happy and successful, I hope) fortysomething who cannot possibly hope to compete with the fetishized 18-year-olds who have become the gold standard for female attractiveness in this country. Is that what I have to look forward to? Is there really so slim a chance of me accepting and feeling comfortable in the body I have?
All of these conflicts and issues are knocking around in my brain on a daily basis, but I have no idea how to turn them into a coherent blog post. I don't want to abandon this endeavor, but it doesn't feel fresh and full of promise anymore. So I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I don't know what my goals are here anymore. Bear with me. I'll muddle through.
Posted byMJ at 1:06 PM