Two days ago I wrote a blog post The Parade about buying flowers for our second bedroom. When I wrote the last line:
And I rode beneath them (the flowers), hearing their confident shouts. And in my
heart, I joined them. "Look, look, and see ... aren't we beautiful."
I thought long and hard about pushing the 'publish' button. I wanted to absolutely, perfectly sure that I was being authentic and saying exactly what I wanted to say. I knew that what I was saying would be seen as almost outrageous by some and completely unbelievable by others. I braced myself for how people might have responded. I will admit that that particular blog is one of my favourite pieces of writing, one that I, personally, will read many times over the next few years - I was almost frightened to let others see it.
As I predicted I did get a negative comment. Some wrote and asked me why I put it on the blog. Since I moderate my comments (for spam, not for any other reason) some thought I simply shouldn't have published it. But I didn't even slightly hesitate to allow the comment through. The comment may be shocking and ugly to some, but it's pretty much a common thread in my dealing with others. Any fat person will tell you the same. Unspeakable cruelty, unfortunately isn't silent. Here's the comment:
This is a great story except for the end. You aren't beautiful. You are
fat. Maybe if you admitted that you might be motivated to lose some
weight. I saw you lecture once and you are very talented but I was too
distracted by your weight to learn anything.
What saddens me about this is the way that people have a paucity of understanding of what 'beauty' is ... equally, it saddens me that beauty has been made shallow, cosmetic, skin deep. To live in a world where beauty is experienced only on billboards and advertisements seems tragic.
I have experienced beauty ...
reading a book wherein I am caught, suddenly, by the astounding beauty of words ...
listening to a lecture wherein I am struck, suddenly, by the astonishing beauty of an idea ...
watching a crowd of people and seeing Joe's particular walk and I am struck, suddenly, by the amazing beauty of the man I love ...
I experience beauty, lots and lots and lots of kinds of beauty.
I imagined myself, with flowers towering above me, beautiful. A fat old man in a wheelchair carrying a bunch of fabric blossoms to decorate the room for two little girls - strikes me as a beautiful sight. I know so because I've seen it - Grandparents doing silly walks to make a child laugh - parents wearing silly costumes to join in a child's fun - big sisters patiently letting little sisters win races. That's beauty.
And that's what I thought about when I wrote how I felt. I was proud of myself for doing something that I knew would draw more attention to myself, believe me I get enough for just being, just because I really wanted Ruby and Sadie to experience a moment of joy.
And they did.
They loved the flowers.
And because I was honest about how I felt, someone else was honest back. And because I made my heart visible, someone saw it as a target. I know that whoever wrote that knew that it was hurtful, and they chose to do it anyways.
I'd rather live in my world, where beauty is a word with multiple meanings, where beauty is more often experienced than seen.