I want to tell you a story.
It’s kind of a sad story.
Maybe you heard (I’m sure that you did; I’ve been going on and on about) that last night was the Footlights People’s Choice Awards and Dancing With Hamlet was nominated for Outstanding Nonprofessional Play. Long story short…we won. It was amazing. As a writer (as an artist!) you spend so much time wondering if you’re any good or if you have anything noteworthy to say, and then something like this happens and suddenly all the hard work pays off. Suddenly, you’re looking back and saying, “I’m so glad that I didn’t give up!” or “I’m so glad that I didn’t listen when those people told me no!” It’s so encouraging. It’s so uplifting. I love to write. I feel alive when I write so the fact that something that I love to do can combine with something that other people enjoy is mind-blowing. Who is this lucky? I am so blessed.
So why am I sad?
Well, in the midst of all the fun I had last night, all the amazing people I got to hug, and the incredible honor that was bestowed upon me…there were lots of pictures taken. Lots. Cameras on phones. Cameras carted around by professionals. Cameras carted around by people who just like cameras. And not-so-slowly, those pictures made it to Facebook. And all I could think when I saw them was, “Holy shit. Am I really that big?” “Holy shit. I look huge.” “Holy shit. Look at my arms. They’re so flabby.” “Holy shit. Look me standing next to Marti Gobel. I loom over her. I tower like a fat brick wall.” “Holy shit. I spent a lot of money on that dress, and I thought it was flattering but it doesn’t look flattering. I must be really bad at picking out clothes. Why did no one tell me that this dress is not flattering? Maybe it’s not the dress, Deanna. Maybe you’re just fat and ugly and unworthy of love!”
And that’s the sad part.
I had fun. I had so much fun last night, but this morning as I sat in bed and looked at the numerous photos, my anxiety took over and every good feeling about last night vanished. So many remarkable things happened last night, but I’m hung up on how I looked. The fact that my dreams seem to be coming true was pale in comparison to the fact that my body mass index says I should be 150 pounds, and I am nowhere near that. Instead of thinking about the joys in my life, I was thinking about my double chin. Instead of thinking, “Holy crap! I’m standing next to Marti Gobel! THE Marti Gobel! THE REAL MARTI GOBEL!”, I was thinking about my legs.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like to call bullshit. Because I know that I’m not the only one who lets physical appearances suck happiness out of everything. So please, people of the world, take this as your daily reminder that you are brilliant, you are great, there is no such thing as perfect, and appearances mean nothing compared to the soul inside you. While I sat in bed, I kept thinking, “I need to make some changes. No more alcohol. No more carbs. Go to the gym SIX TIMES A WEEK.” And, you know what, Deanna? You’re right. I do need to make some changes, but they don’t involve changing my body but, rather, changing my perception.
I am doing great things. I am living a great life. I am so blessed and so lucky and I refuse to let a narrow definition of beauty define my life.
“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”
― Gail Dines