Saturday, April 18, 2009

Too Quick To Misjudgement

You have to have been living under a rock not to have heard anything about the newest superstar on the planet - Susan Boyle

She made her debut a week ago on Briton's Got Talent". When she walked on stage it was obvious that the judges and the audience weren't expecting anything from the 47 year old Scottish church volunteer who is single and says she has never been kissed. She is the youngest of nine children and spent most of her adult life caring for her ailing mother who died about a year ago.

The moment she started to sing "I Dreamed A Dream", the mood of the crowd went from jeers and snickers to awe and disbelief as they heard the angelic voice coming out of this unlikely talent. Even crusty old Simon Cowell became a believer and fan.

Well there seems to be a raging debate as to whether she should get a makeover from her so called dowdy look to something more appropriate for a rising star. Amanda Holden, who is one of the judges on Briton's Got Talent is encouraging her to fight the pressure and be true to herself. Holden says that she will not allow fellow judge Simon Cowell to have his stylists have their way with her. At least one entertainment show has given her a virtual makeover.

A poll on US Magazine asked the question "Should Susan Boyle get a makeover?
Yes without a doubt - 55.58% 7,600 plus votes
No we love her the way she is - 44.42% 6100 plus votes

Another poll on ExtraTV gives three pictures of Ms. Boyle and asks people to vote;
So far about 58% are voting for the first look as the "bob hairstyle frames her face nicely". 14% are voting for the second look as they feel "it makes her look younger". Only 28% "like Susan the way she is"!

What a sad commentary on what society has become.

Society has become so fixated on appearance that they fail to see the gem within. I'll admit, I have also been known to occasionally judge before knowing the whole story - we all have at one time or another. The problem is that most, rarely take more than that first look. If they do, the second is to make sure they really saw what they thought they did the first time.

At this point, the only media - that I have heard of (besides Ms. Holden) that wants to see Susan as herself - is the Oprah Winfrey show. Oprah wants her on the show exactly as she is.

I hope that Susan stays true to herself and does not allow the media and society pressures to make her into something she is not. I admire her courage and her strength to put herself out there in such a public display despite the fact that she had been bullied and teased over the years.

I always wanted to be a singer as well. I did a couple of small talent shows when I was younger as well as numerous solos at coffee houses, church gatherings, weddings and karaoke in later years. I know I also shocked a lot of people when I sang. It happened on more than one occasion. There would be a bit of awkward silence or murmurs, then I'd start to sing. They couldn't believe that voice was coming out of that body! Sometimes you could hear a pin drop as I sang - even in a crowded bar. It was both empowering and intimidating. I don't think I could put myself out there the way Susan did.

I've been teased, ridiculed and bullied - not just as a child but even as an adult. The old saying of "sticks and stones may break my bones - but names will never hurt me" is a crock. It hurts like hell! The words echo in your mind and if you hear them often enough you start to believe them. I've heard all the ugly jokes more than I care to admit. I know that my looks leave a lot to be desired. Susan is beautiful, compared to me. I know, I know, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" and "Beauty fades, it's what is inside that counts". I've heard it all. But I also know that my face is not symmetrical, my complexion is uneven, my teeth are rotten and that my eyebrows are too thick for the styles of today. I know my eyes freak a lot of people out. The eyes are supposedly a window to the soul and since I can't control the movement of my eyes, it makes others very uncomfortable. Yes, I know, I am my own worst critic, but I am also a realist. I could hide behind make up, but I'm still the same underneath and that is supposedly the part that really counts.

I know that people still stare at me as I go about my daily life. I feel it. I hear the snickers and even some of the not so quiet comments. The looks of shock and pity. Parents trying to hush a not so quiet child who can't stop staring or pointing and wants to know why my eyes are so weird.

There have been times that I have been tempted to change my appearance, but this is who I am - I don't like my appearance any more than most other people do, but I see it as my porcupine shell. If you can look past the exterior and take the time to see who is on the inside then it says a lot more about the kind of person you are and the kind of friend you will be. If you can't accept me - flaws and all - then why would I want you in my life?

Being legally blind does have it's advantages here. I don't really see well enough to get a clear view of how someone else looks. I don't see the "flaws" that others would see and judge. I don't even see myself that clearly. I've tried very hard to get past the prejudices and the cruel, insensitive comments, but they still hurt. Being even less than average looking is like being in a prison at times. You are ostracized before you even speak. Most members of the opposite sex don't even want to be seen with you let alone talk to you or be with you in a more intimate way. The odds of you finding a partner are pretty low.

"You know The waitress she took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes.
And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
She said "I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
And I wish I weren't so goddamn fat, I wish that you were mine.
And I wish that you'd come with me, when I leave for home.
For we both know all about emptiness, and livin' all alone."

- Harry Chapin

None of us knows what the future holds. None of us wants to be judged before we have a chance to even open our mouths. We can't all be a "10" - or even a 6 or 7 for that matter. For every one on that upper side there is someone else at the other end - crying out for love and acceptance. We don't want your pity. We go through life trying to do our best and just want a chance to show the rest of society that we should not be judged by our appearance.

Susan Boyle is a breath of fresh air in a superficial society. She has caught us all off guard with her amazing talent. I hope she wins this talent show and goes on to have a successful career as the singer she always dreamt of being. I also hope she stays true to herself and doesn't change anything that she is not completely comfortable with changing.

I'd like to believe that this whole thing has opened a few eyes to the multi billion dollar farce of skin deep beauty, but sadly the polls seem to say that the quest for exterior beauty isn't going to end any time soon.

That is a sad commentary indeed.


P.S. I just learned that Susan recorded a song for a charity album 10 years ago. The audio has been posted on YouTube along with stills of her from Briton's Got Talent. It is fast becoming yet another hit for her! "Cry Me A River" Give this woman a record deal already!

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