By ROSIE WATERLAND
I cried while watching a 3 minute YouTube clip today. A heaving snot kind of cry.
The video was an interview from the AFI archives with Dustin Hoffman, in which he discusses the 1982 film Tootsie, where he played a struggling actor who dresses as a woman to try and get more auditions.
The clip ends with him saying: “That was never a comedy for me.”
That’s where I lost my shit.
Why? Because Hoffman had just described the moment that he realised how heartbreakingly unfair it is that women are valued for their looks above all else.
When he was in full Tootsie female make-up for the first time, Hoffman looked in the mirror and realised that he didn’t think he was an attractive woman. That if he met this woman at a party, he would never engage in conversation with her. That’s in spite of the fact he knew this woman was intelligent, interesting, funny and charming (it is him, after all). None of that mattered, because she just wasn’t pretty enough.
And when Hoffman realised the injustice of not only how he’d been valuing women, but how almost everybody values women, he could do nothing but cry.
He said he realised: “There’s too many interesting women I have… I have… (holding back tears) I have not had the experience to know in this life because I’ve been brainwashed.”
I think I was crying at this point in the interview because I am one of those women. Despite being interesting, funny, smart, successful, talented and engaging, I am completely overlooked by men because most of them value looks above all else, and my looks don’t meet the expected standard.
I don’t mean to generalise here or to put all men into the same box, but this is my experience: 5 years ago I weighed 70 kilos less than I do now, and I received copious amounts of male attention. Now I receive none. None. And nothing about me has changed except my looks. That equation seems pretty clear to me.
If anything, I’m more confident than what I was then, as gaining weight has forced me to explore concepts of beauty and value in a way that I had never even thought about before. My priorities have shifted, and I’m much happier for it.
I have pretty much lived out my journey to self-acceptance on the Internet for the last year or so. It started with an article in which I wrote about how much I hated myself because of my weight gain. I read it now and now and it makes me cry. Coming out of the ‘fatty closet’ was humiliating at the time, but I honestly have not regretted it for one second, because realising how utterly broken I was as a result of my size sent me on a quest to do something about it.
And no. I did not go on a diet.
I started seeing a specialist who helped me realise that I deserved to love myself. The PTSD and eating disorder behind my weight gain was explored, obviously – understanding the reasons behind a 70-kilo weight gain are clearly important. But mostly we just looked at how I can learn to love myself RIGHT NOW, regardless of how I look. I struggled with this concept, as I had always thought that I would be worthless until I had ‘lost all the weight’.
Never mind that I had survived a childhood filled with mentally ill and addicted parents, 17 schools, more houses than I can remember, foster care, DOCs, being split from my sisters, only to grow up and face my own mental health issues as a result of all the trauma, getting though that, going to university, getting a degree, supporting myself, and generally ending up a pretty well-rounded individual.