Why Is Being A Delicate Flower Attractive? Part 1 of the Delicate Flower Rant

I’ve been dealing with a lot of inner rage lately. Like I’m angry. I’m just fucking angry. I guess I’m in hospital, and I’m having to do something that’s really hard for me – gaining weight – but there’s obviously a lot more to it than that. There’s a really stupidly complex web of emotions, thoughts, and twisted logic that goes into any person’s eating disorder, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully explain how my mind works, but I just want to talk a bit about the whole saviour narrative, and ‘delicate little girl’ image, because they have certainly played a part in my self confidence, how I understand my identity, and my desire to be attractive. And it makes me RAGE.

How do I begin? Like many people, I have always longed for a partner, a soulmate, to feel loved. As a child I also suffered from low self esteem, and with, most likely due to being autistic, a real confusion over my sense of identity. I always hated how I looked, and never felt good enough..not smart enough, not talented at art, and fundamentally unable to fit in ‘socially’. I was highly aware my conversations didn’t flow like others; I knew I was too specific and came across awkward; I asked too many questions. It felt completely impossible that someone might think I was pretty, or funny, or interesting. And I think this is where I looked to the world around me for a guide, an idea – not purposefully, but I would watch shows and films and so very often I’d see this ‘saviour narrative’ being played out; this fairytale that felt like something maybe I could fit into. To explain, when I use the term ‘saviour narrative’, I refer to the common trope of boy-meets-troubled-girl, boy-helps-troubled-girl-get-better, troubled-girl-and-boy-live-happily-ever-after. It’s a simple extension of the princess being saved by the prince, except this time the princess is mroe relatebale, because she’s going through a difficult time, and because she is ‘saved’ from herself, the story feels even more emotional and impactful. Problem is that, like, there’s not actually anything pretty about hurting yourself. There’s nothing attractive about dying. It’s taken a while for this to get through to me, but I think in recent years I have become much more aware that this logic is far from the reality, and, in particular, it has struck me that even if it did work..a relationship built on a saviour narrative is hardly going to have longevity, let alone be fulfilling. The lines in the song by Lorde, Liability, say ‘I am a toy/that people enjoy/until the tricks/don’t work anymore/and they get bored of me’. I relate to this – I find people fall for me, enjoy the game of trying to get me better…and then they realise I never will, and the pain of being with someone who is destroying themselves to the point of being completely unable…is too much to cope with. In my mind, I tell myself the novelty has worn off – but if I am honest, really it’s that they just want to be with someone who doesn’t need caring for, and who they can have a future with. Looking back, I feel sad that the media has told me it is attractive to be damaged. I love Skins, but I don’t want to watch Cassie play around with food while being portrayed as cute and quirky, and I don’t want to see Effy self harming and abusing substances, while guys fall for her, and attempt to save her from herself. Recovering from a mental health illness is tiring and draining and just really, really hard. Can’t we make being happy as you are attractive? Why do we need a special ‘feature’ to be attractive? Can’t a prince meet a princess without her being trapped in a castle?

I suppose my other point of contention kind of stems from the saviour narrative, and that’s this image we seem to promote of girls being delicate. I think this is more something that has been part of our society and culture for a long time..women have always been considered the weaker sex, and a counterpart to their partner, the man. Speaking out draws attention, and even nowadays, I don’t really think it’s accepted. Yes, in theory we praise women who speak their mind, who practice self assertiveness, who are confident and embrace the rights we are granted. But in reality we are constantly undermined and left out of society (sometime I must do a book review of the book Invisible Women, which is all about how society is shaped by data that excludes women, and therefore functions in a way that gives men the upperhand), and women who are loud are turned into caricactures. They are the tomboys, they are the women unashamed, they are ‘RELATEABLE’ in big, bold font. They aren’t the average woman. By being loud and embracing who they are, they are branded as a new type of women, and we don’t associate this character with being attractive to men. And I’m not sure why. Why does our society, even without blatantly doing so, promote the concept of beauty equating to being delicate, and small, and dainty? Why is it that men can be big, bold, loud, proud, and women must shrink and be fragile – mere accessories? When I speak out, when I tell embarassing stories, when I act a fool…sometimes I find myself asking ‘what the hell do you think you’re doing?’. I’m not saying women can’t be quiet, or that it’s not okay to like to like to do girly things, not at all…but it’d be nice to make women who are REAL, with multidimensional personalities, attractive.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this..but when someone describes me as a fireball, or like, I don’t know, something that has energy, that’d loud, that’s passionate..it makes me feel like maybe I’m attractive as I am, and not like I need to look more delicate, and only speak eloquently, nor that I need to be damaged, so that someone can save me. Do you relate? I feel like it can’t be just me that’s angry at the hand society seems to deal women…right?

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