Art, Body Image

Ugly femme pride

22 December, 2011

Like many people, I’ve spent a long time fretting over being ugly. Beauty, or being pale and smooth skinned, able bodied, straight haired, thin, with symmetrical features amongst many others of varying arbitrariness, seems to be rewarded with good times, pay rises, attention, excused speeding tickets, prolific representation in the mass media, romantic partners and popularity. So every time I’ve been rejected or passed over I’ve simply put it down to being ugly. I used to get incredibly upset when I perceived my blemished skin and fat belly to be holding me back from success, popularity, romance and otherwise.

As I got more into fat activism I started to realise that the problem wasn’t me, it was this construct of beauty, and while it was nice to know it might not all be my fault… it still didn’t feel good to embody ugliness and to be treated poorly because of that. Not everyone has thought me ugly, but those that haven’t (and do not) surprise me!

As a blogger posting photos of their outfits it feels like ugliness still holds me back – because when I look at the most popular bloggers, they all embody and uphold traditional beauty standards and practices. I do not. The other day I was thinking about this, and trying not to blame myself for not being a beautiful and successful blogger, and I realised that maybe embracing ugliness was an answer. I will never have smooth skin. I doubt I’ll ever shave regularly again. I have visible tattoos, piercings, stretch marks, and scars. I am fat. I am not particularly graceful. I laugh loudly. I don’t cross my legs. Yet I still identify as femme, because it’s important to me to embrace a femmeness that challenges my culture’s screwed up notions of femininity and beauty.

Illustration of a fat person in a pink polka dot bra and undies with stretchmarks and hairy legs sitting above a banner that says "Ugly femme pride".

I don’t have to be beautiful, and I don’t owe it to anyone either. It took me two years to fully understand this after first reading Lesley Kinzel’s Uninvested in Being Beautiful. I was so struck by this epiphany today that I decided to draw it. UGLY FEMME PRIDE!

This illustration is available on t shirts, stickers, mugs, posters, bags, etc on Red Bubble, Spreadshirt and Cafe Press. (Cafe Press has plus sized t shirts!)

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