Thursday, April 30, 2020

She's a House No One Wants to Live In

New York Magazine is doing the world a favor by giving us less Ask Polly. Yesterday, it ran a letter from a woman who feels unloved. She describes herself as overweight and ugly, unloved and unlovable. Somehow or other the woman thinks she is a philosopher manque, though the evidence of her letter suggests that she is not. She believes that philosophy and the attendant anger has saved her. The letter suggests that she is anything but saved. In truth, she is morbidly obese and, by her account, ugly and lovable and undesirable.

It is a sad letter, but one that screams for an obvious solution. Get a fucking trainer, genius. Spend some time at the gym. Consult with a nutritionist. Get a better haircut. Find someone who can show you how to dress. Get a makeover. Clean your house and rearrange your closet.  This is all so obvious that I hesitate to point it out.

And, if she wants to go out on dates, I suspect that there are dating sites for women who are somewhat overweight. Some men look for women who are not svelte. In today’s world, this should not be so difficult to find.

And yet, the letter writer, who dubs herself Stuck, does not say anything about these points. Nor does dimwitted Polly. After all, Polly is herself living testimony to the mindless drivel that far too many therapists are handing out these days. As always, she tells Stuck to feel her feelings, to feel her desire, and, above and beyond all that-- to tell some new stories.

Yes, indeed, it’s the new therapy culture nostrum: you can change who you are by becoming a more proficient story teller. Tell a different story, like the story of Oedipus or the story of Narcissus, and you will become a new person. It’s so stupid that one hesitates to say so, but it passes as therapeutic these days.

If Polly had not abandoned all common sense, she might have added something about the need for this woman to get a trainer and to engage in the other self-improvement activities I mentioned. She did not. It shows why the magazine has reduced the frequency of her column.

Here are some excerpts from the letter. Dare we mention that this woman feels sorry for herself. And that she ought to get over feeling sorry for herself. Because feeling your feelings for feeling sorry for yourself will just make you sound pathetic. People are rarely drawn to people who present themselves as pathetic.

As you might imagine, Stuck is a big fan of Polly’s columns. I trust you are not surprised. Letters written by people who follow Polly’s lame advice usually testify to how bad it is.


This is going to be a mess, and there is no one problem, and I am an enduring fan of yours. Why? When I read your columns, so often I find a voice that reminds me of the best voice in me….

Ultimately the reason I wanted to write you was because I spend every day of this pandemic looking at my double-chinned face on Google Hangouts, and I think about how my entire life, I have wanted not to be morbidly obese. I feel like I’m damned if I do — because how stupid, right, to want something that I know is rigged, that I know is stupid, that I know is arbitrary, that I have never approved of? And damned if I don’t, because I have never looked the way I wanted, and it’s hard for me to say if the reason I haven’t is because I am actually a coward afraid to look like I tried? Now that I am 31, I wonder if I will ever be … not even beautiful, but something that I want to be. It feels cheap to say, ‘Ah, just want yourself! Just love yourself!’ Just stop wanting what you’ve always wanted! JUST GIVE UP.

Fuck that. I don’t want to buy into patriarchal bullshit, but I don’t want to disown what I want, either. What I want to look like is as much a part of me as what I in fact do look like. That’s the rub.

Sometimes I ask myself how I got here. I’m 31 years old, obese, as I said, and a virgin. No one has ever liked me romantically, and I have to wonder, is it because I save the worst parts of me for those who know me? My fragility, my anger, my demands? I know I don’t have a perfect heart. I find myself trying to figure out how and why to change to keep people around. I’ve been having more difficult conversations about ways I was hurt and trying to own up to the times I hurt others, and I can’t tell if this is growth or if it’s coming from the same part of me that is angry: I hate ambiguity. I think that’s why I’ve walked away from some things....

Polly, sometimes I feel like a house nobody wants to live in. I have this ugly body, this ugly face. I am mean, demanding, loud, self-important, and have only a handful of friends that seem to stand the test of time.

As I said, she thinks she is a philosopher. And, of course, she is in full rebellion against the patriarchy. I will spare you the rest of the letter and will spare you Polly’s seemingly endless commentary.

Of course, I understand that gyms are not open during the pandemic-- to my personal regret. But perhaps Stuck should unstick herself and get up, get out, go for a walk or a trot or a jog or a run. She should take a step toward better personal habits, habits that manifest a basic concern for the state of her body. Because, right now, she is covering herself with a mask of self-loathing. It is not an attractive look.


whitney said...

I bet she is online right now scolding people for leaving their houses. This is a perfect illustration of the petty tyrants that are ruling over us now

UbuMaccabee said...

My gym is open, and it's busy. I went last night. But I live in the free zone called Dixie. We got a few fatties, and good for them; they're doing the right thing. But they do love walkin' that lazy treadmill.

Let's look at her options. Assuming she'll never do the work to have a better-looking house. There's always other wimmin.' Andrea Dworkin would find her lovable. And black fellows seem to go for fat, ugly white wimmin'. Black society is best described as matriarchal. But black wimmin' are going to hate your house so much they're going to burn it down. I'd go with the lesbianese as a best choice here; they have to take you, you're a legacy.

There is an outside role she could play in the BDSM community, but the last thing that world needs is another fatty.

10 to 1 says she smells bad, too. Poor dear.

Sam L. said...

Ya gotta be able to WALK a long way before ya can RUN. Gotta work up to it.

370H55V said...

I find it hard to believe any woman of 31, no matter what she looks like, is an incel.