DARE TO GET UGLY
By: Lauren Anderson
There is an old comedy saying, “Dare To Be Ugly”.
I don’t know who said it–I wanna say Amy Sedaris or someone like her–but I don’t know for sure. And the internet is no help. So let’s just say it was a someone we all know, love, and respect, who hasn’t done something horrifying to someone else– and go from there.
What it means basically is committing so hard to a character or idea that you don’t care what you look like anymore. It means contorting your face or your body in any number of ways for maximum comedic effect.
While the ingenues and the leading ladies are often expected to stay coifed and turned out for perfection, comedy should let the cracks show. In fact, letting the cracks show is half of it.
It’s the opposite of finding “your light” or curving your body into the infamously flattering “S” curve for photos. It’s basically “letting it all hang out”. Because what you’re doing and what you’re saying is 100x more important than what you look like.
I thought about this idea a lot when I first started performing. I was always more interested in getting the laugh than looking perfect. Perfect always seemed like such a long way off anyway– so I think it was easy to lean in the other direction.
But don’t get me wrong—I want people to think I’m attractive– like, ALL THE TIME. I too, have taken 20 minutes to edit an Instagram photo. I’m only human.
But I also want people to laugh at what I do and say more– sooooooooo. Sorry looks. Funny wins.
And I’m not even saying that you always have to look and act like a misshapen monster to get a chuckle… cause that’s not true either. There are tons of good-looking folks that collect laughs like people bought Beanie Babies in the 90’s. But comedy by it’s nature is exploratory and observational.
And when you’re exploring and observing human nature… things are bound to get messy.
Cut to my time at the gym.
There’s a lot of flashy fitness blogs out there. With all the cool gear, and the abs, and the beautiful effortless feats of strength! The ever-present “Before and After” pics. There’s even the “Here’s how I went from being a couch potato to to running a marathon” things to read that inevitably inspire and beguile.
So lovely to read and watch.
And then there’s me.
Week after week, I try and post my truest tales on my ever-winding road to fitness. I remember once after a particularly hard workout with Coach Jenn, I asked to snap a pic. What I got back WAS NOT PRETTY. I asked her if I should dare post it?
She said, “Well sure, it’s not a glamour shot, but it’s real. And you earned that sweat. Be proud!”
And I was proud. After all this time, I still don’t have anything slick like those other fancy blogs to show you. And there’s a good chance I never will. Because that’s not my story. That’s not the story I wanted to share.
I think we all have things we carry around with us, that we know deep down are “The Work of a Lifetime” things. These are things about ourselves that we will work on and continue to learn about until the day we die. Maybe it’s recovering from trauma, forgiving your parents, managing your anxiety, using your voice, recognizing what it means to be mixed race– the list goes on and on.
We may spend a lot of time running from or ignoring these things. But sooner or later, we all must face the beast head on. Sooner or later, the “Work of a Lifetime” must begin.
For me, one of my “Work of a Lifetime” things is my relationship to my body. When I was young, my body betrayed me. I couldn’t breath like the other kids. I couldn’t see. I was allergic to everything. And then puberty hit, and I was suddenly bigger and curvier than everyone else my age. I thought I was fat. Looking back, I just got my “woman body” faster than my friends. The real fatness came later…
I didn’t know I even felt this way. I thought this was just the way it was. Everyday was a new negotiation with my body. “Are you gonna be cool today?” Most of the time, I was let down.
So I would do the stuff. You know– THE STUFF. I would diet, tease, evade, and hide. But none of it helped. Cause I was dabbling at a addressing a symptom, but not daring to face the real thing.
When I decided to make this journey public, I wanted to “Dare To Be Ugly”. I thought to myself, “If I’m going to do the work—really do the work– then I’m gonna be honest about it.” It’s still shocking to me just how honest I’ve been. I want to thank you all for letting me do that, and for keeping the trolls of the internet at bay with your love and support.
Because “allowing myself to be vulnerable” is another “Work of a Lifetime” thing for me. This blog is two birds, one stone. One big, heavy, UGLY stone.
But not ugly in the way that we usually think about ugly. Ugly in the, that-dog-is-so-ugly-I-love-it- forever-and-want-to-squish-his-face-who’s-a-good-boy, kind of way.
Ugly in the, that-tee-shirt-is-so-old-and-full-of-holes-but-it’s-what-I-wore-the-day-you-were-born, kind of way.
Ugly in the, that-scar-on-your-face/belly/arm/back-is-beautiful-because-it-means-you–survived, kind of way.
The “Dare To Be Ugly” kind of way.
And the reason I’m writing about this now, is because I’ve really been thinking about it lately. A couple days ago, I came across an article on FB about Self Care. It’s a great opinion piece, and in it the author talks about how, “real self care often means doing the ugliest thing you can do.”
It’s not bath bombs and escaping. It’s “making a budget or sweating through a workout.” This really struck me. To the point where I teared up a little.
(Link posted below… cause I don’t know how to do that thing where you highlight the word etc.)
Because week after week, I’ve posted embarrassing stories and unflattering photos on this blog. Stuff about binge-eating in my car, and being called names, and not being able to do even one sit up. Breaking my bra, breaking my brush, and breaking out.
I’ve covered Death, depression, and discovering my deltoids. I’ve shown you triumphs and transgressions, gains and losses. I’ve experienced great joy, and a lot of the ugly stuff.
And it’s the BEST SELF CARE I’VE EVER DONE. I didn’t even recognize it as a form of self care. But since I’ve started working out at Solcana, I haven’t needed to escape my life. Or my body. Not once. Because I finally started addressing the root of my pain. I finally got to work.
These are not beautiful photos of me being beautiful. These are photos of me doing the “Work of A Lifetime”.
And when you are tackling the monster that hides in the shadows of your mind, there’s no time to stop and take glossy “Before and After” pics. Because there’s only right now.
And right now there’s only time to stop a take a quick, beautiful, ugly pic– and then get back to work.
*Link to that article: https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2017/11/this-is-what-self-care-really-means-because-its-not-all-salt-baths-and-chocolate-cake/