this triggers so many feelings…
most of the very hurtful/manipulative things people have said to me that have stayed with me are that i am “too beautiful” to be as smart as i am… or something along those lines. that i have some self-esteem/self-loathing issues because for the longest time i did not like what saw in the mirror whereas the people around me and strangers did, and told me whether i wanted to hear it or not. that being intelligent (and taken seriously) and being beautiful (for female-identified folks) are two things that are diametrically opposed. you’ve got to pick. the end.
a few years ago, someone who came into my life suddenly, seemed wonderful and like a great new friend, but quickly pitted my best friend and i against each other. he took me aside, said “you and your best friend are a great team! she would be nothing without you, you bring style and beauty and sass.” he took her aside and said “you and julia are a great team! but she would be nothing without you, you are all substance and smarts.” i suddenly suffered terrible jealousy and anxiety, because she won all sorts of activist awards and i felt like no one noticed all of the work i had done over the years. i kept on finding myself convinced that people would just remember me as the one who wore pretty dresses and had a nice smile, but all the credit would go to my best friend. what about my work? my efforts? didn’t i deserve to be told i was articulate, intelligent, not just pretty and good at making nice posters?
in the end, we both got burned, bad, by that fucker. a two month whirlwind courtship/friendship only to find he had been deceiving us for ulterior motives and his own delusions of grandeur. i hated myself for letting myself be charmed by him, but it was nice to not have been alone through that shit. my partner at the time was just as deceived and disappointed when this fucker turned out to be a manipulative bastard, and my best friend and i got drunk and laughed about it on several occasions.
my 5 years with that best friend ended badly, and i think we both still hurt over it even though apologies have been made and years have passed. i think back to that time where she was made to believe she was the substance and i was the style, and how hurtful that was for both of us. you must be one, or the other. you can’t be both. i don’t know if either of us ever let that go.
in short, what i learned from that experience is these stupid fucked up gendered dichotomies need to be dismantled or they will become toxic and take over your life. i think that is what i love about being femme and queer… today i feel this is the only space where i can embrace being critical, gorgeous, sexy, and all for myself. i can have brains and beauty. if you reclaim the slurs people throw at you, it will only make you stronger. i’m brains and beauty.