If you struggle to read black on white, check out the Medium version of the post here.
Every day I go outside dressed in all black in ill-fitting clothing with a hood, hat and mask.
I could be male or female or neither. I could be fat or thin. I could be 16 or 60.
I am a shapeless lump that nobody can inspect. Nobody can comment on. Nobody can make judgments about.
I’m neither ashamed nor insecure. I’m just tired.
I’m tired of hearing you people commenting on people:
Oh, he’s put on weight, hasn’t he?
Oh wow, you’ve lost weight, you look great!
He looks DREADFUL with a beard! He’s much too young for it!
Her hair looks awful, she should’ve stayed blonde.
What the fuck is that dirty looking fucker wearing? Shorts in winter?
Oh wow, she lost weight since she went vegan. A few more kilos and she’ll be perfect!
I miss the old Jean. She looks like a man. Is that because she’s gay?
Look, you impudent, vile fuckhelmet— you don’t get to decide whether that person looks good or bad. You don’t get to decide if he needs to shave, if she needs to lose weight, if someone looks like the “wrong” gender.
You don’t get to decide SHIT.
The world is not your set of ornamental dolls to judge and dress as you please.
I unfortunately live in an area populated by dense fucks who comment on everyone’s appearance, all the time.
They sit there in their little houses, starting out the window at everyone who walks by, commenting. They they turn to the television and say that snooker player looks terrible with a beard and he should shave, it’s unacceptable, it’s dreadful. And so on. All fucking day.
I like to piss these people off. I present them with nothing but black bagginess that sure, they can judge, but they can’t see a fucking thing that’s underneath. They will forever be frustrated that there’s one less appearance to commend on and obsess over.
It makes no difference to my life. I regulate my temperature well even when wearing enormous hoodies and leather jackets in summer. Plus, it makes me unapproachable. At night it makes women and some men dash to the other side of the road and that’s unfortunate, but it’s not my fault — it’s the fault of rapists and robbers, tyrants and terrorists. I’m sorry they have to fear people who look threatening.
That said, looking threatening can be quite an asset when someone’s being a prick. Like the other week, a friend and I were on public benches, drinking coffee. Some arrogant cunt thought we were homeless and begging soshouted, “Get a job.” I rose immediately, dropped my larynx to form the darkest tone and most menacing voice I can produce.
“What the fuck did you just say?”
“Uh … fuck you!”
He ran. Got into his van and left. If I saw that van again and could be sure it was his, oh the scratches I would make in that … perhaps puncture a tire, smash a window. Nobody would catch me. I’d stash the black clothes and the mask in the couch that people don’t know can open. Smile bright, dress naturally. Nobody would ever know.
Anyway, I’m off track here.
The point is, I refuse to be the ogling ornament of strangers who judge, when I don’t have to be.
I have been a public figure in certain communities. I headed a theatre company for years. People were free to judge me then — if I looked like the character, if my wigs and makeup and costume were good. If I dressed appropriately formal and pretentious at events.
(Oh, and if I ever end up at a fancy event again, I’m dressing casually just to piss people off and show that their social rules are pathetic and meaningless. Loafers or slippers, the event remains the same.)
There are some circumstances where people have every right to judge you, or where it may be fun to.
The Met Gala, and similar events, for example. It’s all about fashion! So judge away. But judge people on how they chose to adorn their vessel, their body. Not for the things that’s none of your business like their teeth or their weight or the size of their tits or their wrinkles or the length they choose to keep their hair.
You never have an excuse to pass judgment on strangers in the street, and never have the excuse to comment or have opinions on things people can’t fix or change in five minutes.
Food in their teeth? Comment away. Over or under weight? They lost or gained weight? They got a haircut or grew their facial hair in a way you dislike? Shut the fuck up.
You don’t commend on it. You don’t ask them why they grew a beard or tell them it ages them or tell a woman she should bleach her moustache or shave her PCOS beard. You hold your tongue, be a pathetic little prick in your head and say whatever you fucking please in your thoughts, and you move on.
I cannot currently think of words to describe how much I loathe these people.
With 21 years of professional writing behind me, I can’t seem to string together a sentence to describe what I’d like to do to those judgemental pricks short of saying I’d like to tie them to a chair, pick them up and throw them into a brick wall face first.
See how you like being judged for your newly crooked nose after it’s broken. Maybe it won’t be so fun for you to comment on strangers’ large, small or crooked noses.
There isn’t a word strong enough to describe these people. Maybe “cunt” is strong enough to Americans who seem to be most offended by it, some even think it’s a slur when it’s really, really not. But to me it’s just not enough.
People like this aren’t the worst of it, though. No. It’s worse when people close to you do it and feel entitled to judge, comment on and alter your appearance just because you’re … what? Related? Close friends? In-laws?
Picture this. Someone standing there innocently, minding their own business. Two people in the next room whisper and one is told to go stand next to the innocent. Sudenly you hear two voices go, “Wow! She’s VERY tall! Very tall girl!”
I’m sorry, did you just fucking send your tall friend over to stand next to your relative, without her consent, to be impressed that she’s tall?
WHO. FUCKING. CARES?
AND HOW IS IT IMPRESSIVE? SHE CAN’T CONTROL THAT SHIT!
Same person has a signature makeup look; red lips. She has large lips.
Then, you don’t see her for a few months. She changes her signature look to beige, glossy lips.
“This, this is better. Not like that ugly, big puffy red lips.” And then the judgemental person makes a face, impersonating large lips in a vile manner.
It’s none of your fucking business.
Same person. “You HAVE to keep ALL YOUR NAILS the same length and shape.” And suddenly, forced weekly manacures.
WHY ARE THIS PERSON’S NAILS YOUR PROBLEM?
“You can dye your hair no darker than this.”
IS IT YOUR HAIR?
“You can wear that wig for ONE week, then if I EVER see it again, I’ll burn it.”
NOT YOUR WIG, NOT YOUR BODY, NOT DECISION!
For the record, it was a shoulder-length brown wig that I got the girl as a gift, because she really, really wanted that haircut but knew she’d be screamed at and tortued by her relatives if she cut her long hair.
Oh, she was 19 by the way, and living in a different city to her relatives. It was a young woman in my theatre company who was so fucking traumatized, she went around asking peoples’ permission to wear makeup on stage, in character and then asked if she could wear her skirt with no tights because the stage lights were too hot. She was afraid to offend someone by not wearing tights under a knee-length skirt. White woman, non-religious household, no sexism in the household … just crushing rules imposed on her, and only her.
I still get messages from her occasionally, stating that her relatives are coming to visit. She asks what I think is the least offensive thing to wear. I advised her to wear raggedy, baggy clothes and a hat last time, and not act friendly. Her relatives haven’t commented on her appearance in the two visits since.
I wish she was the only person I knew and witnessed having this same treatment but she’s not. She’s the worst case, she’s had the harshest time, but she’s not the only one I’ve seen with relatives attempting to control her, well into adulthood. She’s in her late 20s now. The second-worst case of this is 35, and the next is almost 59. The latter has long since stopped caring though; he hasn’t complained to me about it in six years.
Nobody is entitled to control, comment on or judge someone else’s appearance for no reason, on a regular day.
This has been a rant, really, more than an article, but I suppose it’s a PSA of sorts. I know all the decent people around will feel like what I’ve said is common sense. I know others will agree deeply but still have unconscious bias and judgments they make and occasionally voice even though they know they shouldn’t because it’s pointless and none of their business.
I’m just tired. This morning I had two people express distress to me about being judged and controlled appearance-wise. One said he’s sick of the comments on his weight, because he hasn’t lost anything in months and people seem to notice. They keep commenting on his previous weight loss, specifying previous.
The other one is that poor woman from the story before. This morning the non-consensual height check thing came back to her in a repeated flashback and she froze in public for a while, unable to continue her shopping. Then she told me about how recently she was asked how tall she was and said she didn’t know and didn’t want to — the person then went on to say “you’re taller than your father … and he’s [height]. So you’re more than [height], wow!”
She is fucking transgender and has dysphoria about her height which she has spoken about multple times!
What’s funny is that her relatives have never cared that she’s transgender and have always been supportive. They’re just obsessed with her height, the colour of the makeup she wears, and what her hair looks like. Unrelated to her being transgender, they were like that before she transitioned too.
I need to shut up now because I could rant about this for hours and dive into deep fantasies about what I’d like to say and do to certain types of people.
I have friends left so traumatized by past comments on their appearance that now any compliment on it makes them deeply uncomfortable. I’m so fucking pissed off!