Fuck Flattering is a performance piece about unlearning body hate. It’s about stepping off the hamster wheel of physical perfection. It’s about exploding conventional standards of hot and desirable, and finding beauty and power and strength in the wreckage.
In its current form, it’s part furious call-to-action, part no-bullshit crash course, part personal exploration of my own relationship with my body. I’ve written about my struggles and triumphs with body image in the past – Fuck Flattering feels like the logical conclusion of a long and turbulent journey towards learning to love the body I have right now, almost 100% of the time.
But the fun thing about Scene + Heard is that it’s a festival for developing work, so there’s going to be plenty of room for evolution built into the process between now and the end of February.
Will you be performing it?
I will! With my own body and my own voice! On the condition that I don’t expire from nerves before actually making it to the stage.
Where and when can I see?
You can catch Fuck Flattering for two nights – February 28th and March 1st at 8pm in the Main Space at Smock Alley Theatre. Once again, you can book tickets here. It is paired with another show called Handling It, a dark comedy about grappling with becoming a “victim” in the wake of sexual assault. A ticket for both shows is €10.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have my belly, so I’m going to assume it’s been with me my whole life. I was a pudgy child who grew up into a pudgy pre-teen and then abruptly stopped growing but remained pudgy, even when I gave up chocolate and sweets for Lent and didn’t cheat, even once.
My belly and I have a love-hate relationship. For most of my life, it’s been heavy on the hate.
Today, I had a mission. That mission was “Go to town, purchase two pairs of black leggings.”
As a teenager, fitting rooms were an intensely stressful experience for me. Things that were not confidence-boosters include: unforgiving bright lights, mirrors angled so you can see your whole butt at once and things that won’t button or zip even though they claim to be in your size. I rarely buy clothes these days, but historically I often gave up around the fitting room stage of the experience, purely because I felt so miserable about my body.
As well as my urgently-needed leggings, I picked up a few tops and also found an incredibly rare pair of jeans – 28-inch leg and 30-inch waist is like the Holy Grail when you have roughly the same proportions as a hobbit – that were 50% off. So I had no real choice but to try that shit on.
And in the fitting room, I stripped down to my underwear and took a good long look at myself.
I watched Young Justice Episode 11 last night, and it reminded me how much I love Amanda Waller. For those of you who don’t read DC, Amanda “the Wall” Waller is an antiheroine, most infamous for her role as the government agent in command of Suicide Squad (a team of incarcerated super-villains who take on high-risk black-ops missions in exchange for commuted sentences.) She is morally complex, fierce in her own convictions and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She is undeniably one of the most bad-ass characters ever created. As Rachel Edidin of girl-wonder.org puts it:
She is smarter than Batman. She is tougher than Darkseid. And she is one of the most morally and humanly complex characters in fiction. She embodies a combination of deep compassion, profound ideals, and utter ruthlessness that female characters rarely get to touch–and she will fuck up your binaries and paradigms better than any other character in mainstream comics.
Her characterization in Young Justice was completely true to this; she was tough, uncompromising and not even mildly intimidated by the threats of posturing super-villains. You can tell that Amanda Waller would literally go head-to-head with the entire Justice League if she didn’t like their agenda; and even though she’s a non-powered human woman, I would hedge my bets just in case she took them all out with sheer scorn and grit determination.
And I don’t – in any way, shape or form – mean that as a self-pitying, self-deprecating statement. I am not fishing for compliments. I don’t have low self-esteem.
When I say I don’t think I’m beautiful, I mean it as a matter-of-fact, realistic statement. This does not mean I don’t think I’m attractive. I think I look pretty good most of the time, especially if my hair is sitting right and my skin is behaving and I took the time to moisturise. I’m confident enough to say that I’m attractive, that I like my body and I like my face and I think I scrub up pretty nicely when I make the effort.