I just read this awesome post on Dances with Fat and it reminded me of something that’s always bothered me: Susan Boyle’s slingshot ride to fame. Don’t mistake me, that woman deserves every bit of the respect she’s gotten and more and I am beyond happy for her. The thing that bugs me is that everyone was so shocked. Why? Because she wasn’t Hollywood-skinny? Because she wasn’t a teenager? Because her hair wasn’t as smoothly-styled as your typical famous singer? Guess what?! Ugly people (of which I never counted Susan in their numbers, anyway) can be talented, too. And what’s more is that they are worth something.
A couple of years later I caught some dancing show on TV – I normally don’t watch them (not because I dislike them, just because I’m generally too caught up in Lost or Firefly) so I don’t remember which show this was and when I tried to find a clip of it online at the time I failed (so if any of you know it, please email me). But there was a woman on the show who wasn’t skinny and it was clear the judges weren’t really paying attention to her – until they saw her move. She was graceful and poised and moved well and danced perfectly as far as I could tell. When the cameras turned back to the judges they were clearly shocked. I could feel my eyes begin to roll and my frustration begin to rise when one of the judges said something along the lines of: “You surprised me with how well you danced. And I was wrong to have assumed anything less. I’m sorry and I won’t let stereotypes like that stand in my way again.” YES. That? Is the RIGHT answer. Well, I guess the best answer would have been, “You danced well and I am not at all surprised.” But in absence of that, the one given turned out to be pretty damn cool.
And then a few days ago, my daughter was having her usual daily meltdown over her math. She’s quite good at math, actually, but she dislikes it and so builds herself various walls and other obstacles which make it an ordeal for the whole family. This particular day when she started crying and calling herself stupid, instead of my usual daily speech about how she’s not stupid at all, I asked her, “So what if you were? Are stupid people worth less?” And the answer, of course, is no. Every single person on this planet has something to offer and has immense value inherent in their soul. Every single person, no matter her size, shape, beauty, talent, IQ, mental health or anything else we can use to measure a person, is worth just as much as the person next to her. And every one of us has beauty, inside and out.
Part of me wishes that after Susan Boyle’s first performance, she had turned on her heel and walked away during that moment of stunned silence while everyone absorbed the fact that this unconventionally beautiful woman might have some actual talent. It would have served them right for assuming anything less. In reality I am, of course, thrilled for the success she’s had and I couldn’t wish more good things for her.
But, Susan, you’ve always been beautiful. Don’t let them make you think anything else.
And you, too, my readers. You are worth as much as the stars in the sky. And you are just as beautiful.