“I just need to find a way to accept the way I look until I can afford hair extensions.”
I said this, in complete sincerity, to my boyfriend a few days ago as we were walking back from Safeway on a late night cereal run. In my mind, I was being realistic. I’ve been dreaming about beautiful fake hair for years, the kind that’s long enough to be considered “mermaid hair” and thick enough to make my face and body seem small in comparison. But in my current financial state (broke), I had no choice but to be beautiful in a Lena Dunham in Girls, real person in a Dove commercial kind of way.
“You know that’s hilarious, right? That’s like saying I just need to accept the way I look until I can afford liposuction.”
Greg was laughing at me, and it jolted me out of my scheming. I laughed too, but most of me felt frustrated and embarrassed at my backwards version of body positive feminism. It would have been funnier if I was kidding. But in reality, it’s pretty sad. I read books on body positivity, I follow FATshion bloggers on instagram, and I preach self acceptance on twitter. All of these things point to me being totally cool with the way I look. Unfortunately, actually practicing body positivity and letting go of all the things I’ve been programmed to think about beauty is WAY harder than just talking about it. Like, a thousand times harder.
I flip flop between wanting to be a musician who is honest and open and real, and wanting to be a sexy mysterious girl/object that makes money. As you already know if you’ve listened to the music I make, I usually go for the former, but occasionally my impulse to be attractive and shiny rears its head and decides to run the show. And that’s when things go sideways.
For example, here is an real behind-the-scenes story of the filming of my latest music video Crybaby that I don’t share too often because, honestly, it’s embarrassing. It starts at about nine am, just after we’ve started shooting the first few lines of the song. I saw myself on the monitor and immediately my eyes welled up with tears, which is frustrating because out of all the actors on set I was the only one who was NOT supposed to cry. I was artist, the reason everyone was there, the one paying for the whole production. However, as soon as I saw my face on camera, I panicked, left the set, and shut myself into a dark room down the hall, like I was Mariah Carrey or a small child. I hated the way I looked on camera so much I felt physically sick. I called my friend Shevaughn and asked/begged her to cab to North Van and “fix” my face. She told me I was probably insane, but that she’ll do it anyways (she is truly an angel).
One fifty dollar cab ride later and I was back in front of the camera, this time with Shevaughn looking at the monitor to examine what could be done about my “horrible” appearance. After studying it carefully, she told me that I was definitely insane, and I looked fine. She ushered me into the bathroom and gave me a new shirt, which didn’t change my appearance much but was successful at calming me down enough to go back in front of the camera. This time, I asked the directors if we could shoot the whole thing without showing me any of it. They seemed a bit confused, and assure me that I looked totally normal on screen. Maybe it was because they are boys, or maybe it was because they are sane people, but what they didn’t understand is that I didn’t want to look normal. I didn’t want to look like me. I wanted five more layers of makeup, a wig that looked real, and a long sleeve shirt to cover up my god awful arms. I will stop at this point to admit that I know, logically, that I am a fairly nice looking person. But that part of my brain wasn’t working at this point. That part of my brain almost never works.
We filmed the whole thing, and the directors sent me the first edit to make sure I was happy with it. I couldn’t watch it. I loved everyone else, but every time I saw myself, I felt sick. I asked that the directors send the rest of the edits to my boyfriend. I never watched the video again.
This isn’t the only time this has happened. It happened with my first Oh Wells music video, and with my Prom photos, and it happened yesterday when I looked in the mirror. I want to be a body positive feminist so badly. I know that every body is beautiful, and that it’s the music and the message that counts, not the attractiveness of the songwriter. But I also know that the most popular women in music look like disney princesses, and I’ve read the stupid youtube comments under Adele music videos, and even Megan Trainor’s All About That Bass makes things worse somehow. She sings about having “all the right junk in all the right places”. What about the girls who have junk in the wrong places? Do they get less youtube hits? Do they get passed on record deals? I have no idea. But I do know how shitty it feels to hate your body. So maybe having more weird, different, big small round square women make great things will mean there will be less women hating their bodies in the future. If that’s true, I want to be a part of that.
Screw hair extensions and 21-day detoxes and really freaking expensive make-up. I just need to find a way to accept myself so that I can spend more time making awesome art.