All things come to a beginning

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ugly is as ugly does

Because "Ugly Betty" is such a hit show, I decided to YouTube it & watch some clips. It does look pretty addictive, I can easily imagine people getting caught up in the story lines. Unattractive, naive Betty trying to make her way in the harsh fashion world, where she has to deal with being laughed at, sabotaged, and publically humiliated. But she perseveres, fights, finds some allies and makes it work.
When the actress who plays Betty won a Golden Globe a couple of weeks ago, I caught her acceptance speech on TV and teared up. As much as I know that it's all fake & a sham & that I've been predicted by a team of marketing slugs to feel the way I do, I couldn't help but be moved by what she said. About how girls tell her every day the show makes them feel worthy and lovable and like they have more to offer than they thought. A bunch of women (just the women...) in the audience are shown to tear up too: Salma Hayek, Annette Benning, Sienna Miller.

What gutted me today was watching a clip that showed America Fererra accepting the award, but included the two minutes that followed. She walks off the stage, where a TV reporter is talking into the camera, announcing what is yet to come in the awards show. America stands there. And waits. And waits. Walks off camera, looking confused, like "someone told me to come stand here, but should I?" (I picture a production assistant with a throbbing vain on his/her forehead waving frantically for her to step aside). Finally, the reporter is done blabbing, re-enter America. Instead of congratulating her, she fires off her first question: "So, how does it feel now, with all those people who didn't want you to play Betty?" The actress's smile fades, and she stammers "Um, I don't...I don't know. I don't know who those people are". To which Bony Bitch cheerfully replies "You know, there were some people who didn't want you for the role, but then Salma Hayek stood up for you?". Wow. She couldn't give her a minute of sincere joy, before reminding her that she was at the mercy of others for getting time, attention and praise. Before pulling the rug of self-confidence out from under her. Before encouraging her to be as merciless and arrogant as the other characters on the show and give "those people" a big FU, just because she could. That part was not staged by a single publicist (possibly by a black hearted TV producer, though).

Who thinks like that? Who gets satisfaction out of acting that way? I wish I could repeat myself and say "I don't know how those people are", but the truth of the matter is that I do. Pretty much everyone carries the potential in them. If you knew beforehand who would betray you, who would enjoy keeping you down, who would purposely make you feel about an inch tall, it wouldn't hurt as much. But inevitably, they are people we like and trust. Friends. People from work. Exes & currents. Family. People who know our weaknesses, and their own strengths, and rub our faces in it. That being said, I remember walking to school when I was 12, 13 and having to pass an all boys' school on my way. On several occasions, I got singled out - I have to admit I was an easy target, I was a poster child for how awkward that early teen stage is. One guy enjoyed standing in front of me and yelling "ugly!" into my face. I have no idea who he was, I still don't, but I would be lying if I said that his anonymity made it suck any less.

Not throwing a pity party, though. I have definitely done my own share of mocking, laughing at and looking down. You know, like calling someone a "bony bitch". Words & acts that shouldn't & don't make me proud.
So how do you move past that? Being bitter and refusing to trust a soul - solidly entertaining though it might be (which reminds me, the woman who played Darlene on "Roseanne" is expecting a baby. Apparently she's 32 now, that makes her way older than she pretended to be on the show, no?) - is not the way to go. Relying on yourself is a pretty safe bet, but hard to keep up. Forgiveness, I guess, without taking that too far. Growing a thick skin can't hurt. Blocking out the bad and focusing on the good. Not letting one person in a whole crowd ruin a perfectly good moment. Being the bigger person. And trying to treat people right - no trampling, no clawing, no knee jerks.


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