I just found myself having a little surprise cry.
Every night I scroll through Tumblr and have a look at all the bits and bobs people post. I love Tumblr*, it’s full of inspiration, cuteness, discussion, news, cupcakes, fat positive photographs, laughs and food for thought. So tonight I was scrolling through and came across this post from Marianne Kirby**, where she explains what she would like to have as her next tattoo.
I read the sentence that she has chosen to be part of her next tattoo, and my world stopped still just for a moment:
Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
For those of you who don’t recognise it, it is a lyric from an Adam and the Ants song, Prince Charming.
As I read that sentence, something in me just clicked. My 13 year old heart started beating so hard in my 38 year old chest. A flood of memories came back to me, and I was almost instantly transported back to the early 80’s and my pre-teen/early teens.
And I cried. I’m still crying on and off as I write this post.
I am not sure how I came to forget that sentence, that lyric. It meant so much to me once. I clung to it so hard, I repeated it over and over and over in my head. It’s no secret that I was a bullied kid, nor is it a secret that I came from a background of domestic violence. And I remember. Oh how I remember, the feeling that nobody in the world cared about me, that everyone was cruel and hateful and that I was worthless. But I also remember the lifeline that song threw me with that one lyric.
Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
When I was feeling at my very lowest. When I was being beaten, bullied, humiliated, shamed… that lyric would pop into my head, and I would hear that song in my mind, and I would just escape. Escape into a world of dandy men and powdered and pouffed women, with their faces painted in bright colours, a world of silk or leather, or a feather. A world that was bright and beautiful, a world where ridicule was nothing to be scared of.
I think that part of me shut that memory out. It hurts so much to remember that time. Because the PTSD is always close to the surface and sometimes it’s easier to forget than acknowledge things and let the emotions come back. Thing is, something as simple as a lyric, or an image, or a piece of music, or a scent, brings it all flooding back.
But the thing is, that lyric STILL means a lot to me, just for different reasons. Because after a lifetime of using the lyric to escape, I realise now that it’s reality, not escape. Ridicule IS nothing to be scared of. I used to be terrified of people making fun of who I was, so I hid in a persona that was not me. I dressed how I thought others wanted me to dress. I behaved how I thought others wanted me to behave. Only to be absolutely miserable, and people ridiculed me anyway. So I came to a point (with thanks to therapy and the Fatosphere) where I figured if I was going to be ridiculed, then I may as well be ridiculed for being, wearing and doing the things I love. The surprising thing was that being ridiculed ceased to be painful. It became a reminder that I was doing something that was important to me. Even if I had forgotten the source of that belief, the lyric that taught me that no matter how much fun people made of me, if I’m doing something that makes me happy, there is no reason to be afraid of that ridicule, to be shamed by other people’s narrow-mindedness.
And that’s what makes me able to get tattoos of fat ladies, shave my head for charity and wear bright colours and kitschy accessories. I’m confident enough to wear silk or leather, or a feather. Thanks to the knowledge that ridicule really is nothing to be scared of.
So thank you Marianne, for sharing your next tattoo idea. I have to apologise though, because at some point in the future, we’re going to have the same sentence tattooed on us. I feel like I can’t not get it permanently marked on me now. But I promise that it will look nothing like yours and I’ll tell the story of how an old memory was brought back to me and reminded me of my strength.
Oh look, have the song while we’re at it. It’s so camp and theatrical, I still love it: