Written by The Feisty Fox, a Fattitude Intern
It was my freshman year in college and I was excitedly getting dressed for the first dance of the year. A dorm mate had set my friend Michelle and me up with some boys from another school, and we were giving our all to perfecting our looks for the night. I was desperate to have a boy like me so I was going for the Wow Factor. I decided on a black top with a black leather skirt, black fishnet tights, black heels and, of course, a black fabric choker. I hadn’t yet figured out that self confidence is always more attractive than Melanie Griffith (@melaniegriffith) in, “Working Girl.”
Michelle and I anxiously awaited the arrival of our dates in the lobby of our dorm. When they got there, the four of us nervously introduced ourselves. I can’t even remember what they looked like. In retrospect, they were probably scrawny kids just out of high school, but I was only focused on how I looked and how they would respond to me. I had no awareness, what-so-ever, that I had the power to choose how I felt about them in return. The only standard I had was for them to show interest in me.
Before heading out, the guys asked to use the bathroom. We showed them the way and waited for them outside the door. The thing is, they never came out. We respectfully stood there for a while, but when we didn’t hear any noise coming from within, we started to catch on to the fact that we’d been ditched. We got the door opened, looked inside and realized they’d climbed out the window.
I was unbearably ashamed and entirely humiliated. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be if that happened to them. But instead of feeling outraged by their sheer immaturity and disrespect, I felt their actions were justified. Their response to meeting me confirmed every single thing I’d been taught about my appearance growing up; I was such a beautiful girl, but I couldn’t possibly be attractive to boys until I lost weight.
Believing their response to meeting me was warranted, I wasn’t about to share my true feelings with anyone for fear of them laughing at me, blaming me for not following the 1000 (outdated) rules for effective weight loss, or defending the behavior of the boys. I kept thinking of a story my dad would tell about a friend who went to pick up a blind date and found her so ugly he didn’t even want to spend one evening with her. Instead, he politely led her to an unlocked car parked nearby, opened her door, waited until she settled in, closed the door, then walked to HIS car and drove off. The guy’s brazenness was the punchline and everyone would get a big laugh out of how he so cleverly dumped her. No one ever inquired about how the woman faired after being treated so cruelly or questioned her actual worth beyond her date’s opinion of her physicality. In actuality, she was the punchline.
And so was I.
Michelle and I, too traumatized to attend the dance, retreated to our rooms and never spoke of the incident again. In fact, we never really spoke much again at all. I’m not sure if she turned to anyone for support, but I gave no one a chance to hold me, to tell me I should own none of the shame, that those ball-less boys should own all of it and, most important of all, to tell me that there are so many reasons they did what they did and ultimately, none of them had to do with me or how I looked that night.
As you can imagine, after such an experience, I even more firmly believed I would never be desirable to anyone. Ever. I became so truly desperate for a man to show any sort of interest in me that I didn’t care who he was or what he stood for. Sadly, because my “picker” was so extremely damaged, I made some truly terrible choices. And, to be honest, my “picker” stayed broken for many, many years, leading to two ill-fated marriages that, at least, brought me my two amazing children.
Recently, my dad told me that what had always bothered him about my second marriage was that he felt like I settled. I know that could easily seem like an insult, however it actually felt like a huge compliment. It meant my dad found me to be somewhat of a catch. And thankfully, even without his validation, through a lot of self-exploration, I’ve learned that, for so many reasons, I am a catch. A big fat catch!
Remember that book, “He’s Just Not that Into You,” by that douche Greg Behrendt (@gregorybehrendt)? Ian Kerner’s follow-up, “Be Honest, You’re Not that Into Him Either,” was so much more empowering. His message for women was to stop settling on the first guy who showed them attention. So many of us do this! As I said earlier, I can’t even remember what those boys looked like because my only criteria for them was to be attracted to me. Would I have even been interested in them if I had stopped to take a look and ask some questions? I may have wanted to ditch them more than they wanted to ditch me! (But I would never have been so unkind.)
I am grateful to have learned that I don’t have to choose someone who doesn’t meet my standards just because I fear no one better will come along. NO MORE SETTLING! NO MORE IGNORING THE RED FLAGS! Especially because leading a life on my own will always be more fulfilling than facing the consequences of settling for someone not worthy of being with me . . . or worse. (And believe me, I experienced the worst.)
Maybe one day I will meet someone deserving of sharing my life with me and we will be mutually in love, from head to toe. Until then, I get to continue discovering and enjoying all the goodness in my life.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern or guest blogger – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.