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Perhaps we should use our words?

Everyone seems to be weighing in on the whole fiasco that occurred last night at the Oscars between Chris Rock and Will Smith. It seems very far away in a sense, and yet it also hits a little too close to home as well.

For what it’s worth, I feel that Will Smith was justified in expressing his upset at the inappropriate joke that Chris Rock decided to share. But I also think there is a better way to handle things than getting up in front of your peers and the world and striking someone. How about we use our words boys? Can you be angry, offended or even annoyed by someone’s sense of humour? Sure. In the moment, I am not sure what I would do, or what I would wish my spouse to do either. Ideally, I suppose I would hope that my spouse would stand up, address the offender and state “Whoa...You owe my wife an apology.” Would that have worked? I can’t say.

This is what I can say…I know how Will Smith and his wife JPS (Jada Pinkett-Smith) feel. I know what it is like to see someone you love, who is young and beautiful, start to lose their hair in chunks, until it is all gone. It may sound as simple as that, but it isn’t. I remember when my sister started to lose her hair due to alopecia. There’s nothing you can do or say to make everything better. She never really said much about it, but I could see it bothered her in the beginning, as it would for anyone. We live in a world where we are constantly judging. Ourselves. Others.

Years later when I was in my early 30’s I started to lose my hair too due to alopecia. My hair was never as lush and gorgeous as my sisters and so it took a bit longer to notice. I noticed though. I would have to clean the shower drain every morning after my shower, as there was always a handful of my curly locks to be thrown away. I did not want to admit that I was going bald. How can I be attractive with no hair? Then "Pity Party Me" started....I already won the genetic lottery with other health issues. I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) in my mid-twenties, which hindered my ability to start a family at the time. I knew I was a carrier of the gene for Cystic Fibrosis and could pass that on to a child of my own. No matter how hard I tried, I was always a bit heavier than my peers and losing weight was a struggle. Now you could add alopecia to the list of conditions that left me feeling unsexy, unattractive, and unworthy of love. I know, woe is me. LOL

It took me a good year before I could bring myself to wear a wig. It was at the point where I could choose to wear a wig, or don’t wear a wig and look like a version of one of those baby troll dolls that were popular back in the day. You know, the ones with that wild hair in bright colours sticking up all over the place! Super sexy, I know. But that is how I felt. The truth is, I was the one making myself feel ugly and unattractive. No one else really seemed to care, except that I would not go anywhere without a hat. (Thank God I look great in a hat!)

It struck me as strange that I could view my little sister as beautiful, knowing she had experienced these things too, but I couldn’t see myself as beautiful anymore. Maybe we mellow as we age. Perhaps we learn to recognize what we do in fact, bring to the table. Either way, I did eventually find a way to see myself as attractive again. It took time though and would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from friends and family.

I don’t believe myself a vain person, but I also admit to being hard on myself. Very much so in my teens and 20’s. Life at that time is all about finding your way and trying to present yourself as your “best self” all the time. It’s exhausting and a lot of time is spent on trivial things that at the time seem relevant and important. Hair. Makeup. The right clothes. The perfect waist size. The cute boyfriend who adores you, or so it seems. And then one day you wake up and realize you are amazing as you are. Coupled or single. Chubby or thin. That your hair is falling out, but you get to wear a different hairstyle every day of the week if you like. That you don’t need all that makeup anymore because it just covers your already great complexion. You look in the mirror and think, “Who would have thought these size 8 jeans would fit me?! Man, have I worked hard for this, but I did it.” And if we are lucky enough, we have also found someone to share our amazing selves with. Someone who truly sees us and know exactly what to do or say to make us smile. Or perhaps when to leave us alone to give us space to work it all out ourselves. Someone who knows what we bring to the table and recognizes all that we have gone through to get to that exact moment. Just like we have the responsibility to recognize the same thing in others.

I get why someone like Will Smith would feel protective of their spouse. I understand that sometimes we react instead of thinking first…especially when someone has hurt those, we love the most in the world. Should he have used his words? Yes, but we have all done rash things in the moment, especially when someone we love is made to feel “less than..” or is the punchline to someones unnecessarily cruel joke.

Like so many things in this life, we can be left feeling like our choices are limited. That we must be always on the defence and even mistrusting to protect that which is most valuable to us. But we are not left without options. There is always the option to be empathetic. To try to put yourself in someone else’s place. To not take joy in another’s sorrows, but to try to lift the people around us. To love ourselves and other people radically and without shame. To accept that which we cannot change and to remain true to ourselves.

So many times, I have been told I am too much. That I love too easily or am too eager to forgive. That’s fine with me. So what if I love too much?! Am I hurting anyone? I’d say no. Am I ashamed to say that I try very hard to forgive others because I cannot stand to be angry all the time? I am not ashamed. I have been there. I have been angry and miserable and blamed the world, God, and everyone else for what I have perceived as wrongs done to me. The thing is, there is always someone who has suffered more. Endured more. There is no use in waiting for apologies that will never come. For me, it is so much easier to see the good in this world and try to show empathy. I don’t hide my head in the sand, but I also don’t look to take offence.

Perhaps the only answer is that we are all imperfectly perfect as we are. Right now. Does that make any sense?

Much Love,

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1 Comment

Mar 29, 2022

Very thoughtfully written Jenn.

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