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“You Look Beautiful”

“You look beautiful.”
“You look great”
“You are so very beautiful”

These are a handful of responses from men to my new photos and my body-positive post. I do want to be fair and say that I got some generic “You’re pretty!” from women too, but there were more substantial comments about the idea of body shaming and body positivity. Which was–spoiler alert–what the post was about.

I’m not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth. I recognize that I took new photos, and by taking those photos, I am inviting critique and commentary on my physical appearance. I appreciate everyone who left kind words and love each and every one of you. This isn’t necessarily directed at anyone in particular.

But.

I didn’t write the post and I didn’t take the photos so that you could all shower me in how “pretty” I am. I don’t base my self-worth on my physical appearance. I base it on how many book sales I have like any normal author.

“Ugh, fine. What do you want me to say about your head shots then?” you say with a chip on your shoulder that I would dare tell you not to compliment me.

You could comment on any number of non-sexually-attractive aspects of a shot. The staging for example, the lighting, the coloring, the way the shot is framed. You could comment that I seem to be having a good time in the photos and you’d like to have a beer with me and talk about why Lyssa is a moron. You could say that my face doesn’t look like I’m about to shart, and I looked relaxed and happy. You could compliment the talented Ashley Victoria on how freaking amazing she is with focus and detail. You could say that water looks warm as hell (it was) and that you’re so jelly that I live there now.

Or you could say nothing at all, which might be preferable for some of you who have already crossed a line into my discomfort zone. You know who you are, “I’d like to find out how different you and Lyssa are” and “Hey beautiful.”

I want to be clear: the body-positive post yesterday wasn’t a fishing expedition. What I was doing, as I always do here on the blog, is communicate a thought that was swimming in my head and explore a behavior that I had towards myself. For that particular post, it’s about how my nagging perfectionism was impeding my ability to self-love.

The post was not an invitation for you to “make it better.”

The new head shots, as well, aren’t about me being sexy or “pretty.” My photos are the first thing people see when they “meet” me virtually, and I wanted them to be more reflective of my personality. I wanted photos that communicated a vision for what S. Usher Evans stands for and how it makes people feel. And if you’re feeling something in your pants, well…then you have a problem. Unless you’re reading the end of Conviction, in which case I don’t blame you.

“But S”, you ask, slightly less annoyed with me now. “Why the high horse and the snark?”

Because I’ve written a version of this blog fifteen times over the past four months when dudes have creeped me out and I was afraid to post because someone might call me “bitchy” or “shrill” or say I’m “overreacting.”

Because every time I get a creepy message, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “I don’t want your D, I want your $30 and a review of my books.”

Because I can’t even advertise my Instagram feed without someone saying, “More selfies!” when my Instagram is about posting photos of my perspective of the world, not about making duck-faces.

Because I get a small panic attack when I see one of the Four Creeper Dudes of the Weird-o-calypse comment on Facebook.

Because dude authors don’t have this problem.

As a woman in this business, I’m constantly judged for the way that I look. There’s tons of articles about how women don’t get awards or reviews and yadda yadda yadda. I can’t change the world, but I can demand better treatment when I see things that tweak my sexism-radar.

To close, if you’re unsure of how to talk to a female author, there’s a really nice measuring stick that I use. Would you tell a male author something that you’re about to tell me?

So like, if GRRM was in the ocean spinning around and stuff, would you comment, “You’re so beautiful.”

Probably not. But I’ll leave you with that mental image.

Published inRambles
  • S. Usher Evans

    Thank you for your thoughts. Since you want me to be “witty,” let’s deconstruct your argument with the wittiest banter I can come up with.

    *cracks knuckles*

    “If someone tweets a joke about “More selfies!” right after you write a statement to the effect of “This is not about selfies” that is called the use of irony and it was intended to be funny. ”

    If you have to tell me it’s intended to be funny, it wasn’t. That’s called telling and we don’t do it in writing. You should check out some tips on the #writetips twitter feed.

    The selfie guy (which I assume is you) got on my radar when he (you) commented on me “rocking my short hair” on a completely unrelated topic. Focusing on my physical appearance = creeper!status. And I don’t forget. Like an elephant.

    Also, when you spent an hour in front of my table at Virginia Beach then kept coming back. Thanks for your $10 by the way! I used it to pay for this blog.

    “To which, anyone claiming to be a writer who loves the exchange of witty banter should be able to respond in a number of clever ways NOT to include a wordy blog about “creepers.””

    Shall I break out my tap shoes and dance around while I’m performing? I think I still remember the steps to Anything Goes. My feet may bleed, since you want me to dance for 24 hours a day. But that’s okay. Your enjoyment of my performance outweighs everything else.

    Because, again, you consider me to be an object, not a human being (seeing a theme here, friend?)

    “This tends to alienate people who might have been fans.”

    If you’re alienated by the message in this blog post, there is no way you are a fan of Razia or Empath. Because that’s exactly the message of those books.

    Also, I don’t want fans like you.

    “But if you intend to be successful in the public eye you MAY want to be a bit less insulting every time you get annoyed with your “sexist” fans and just be glad you have fans at all.”

    My stahs. I am so thankful that I have you, a big strong man, to tell me to be thankful for my fahns. Rhett! Rhett! As Gahd as my witness, I shall never insult another fan agahn!

    Dude, seriously. Are you joking?

    I would rather have zero fans than a thousand fans like you, who insult me when I’m expressing a view point (on my blog, which I own, paid for with the money I make from all them books I write. Money that you gave me! Thanks again!).

    ” I, for one am NOT a “creeper” and will not stand to be labeled as such, however indirectly, by a fledgling, self-published writer with about a thousand followers.”

    Stand it, dude, because it happened. Assuming you are one of the gentlemen whose behavior appeared (without identification, I might add) in this blog.

    “Excuse me a thousand minus one.”

    #ByeFelicia

  • Marshall Sutton

    You look like a kick ass writer who can dish out witty beatdowns to sexist asshats with just the stroke of a few keys.

    • S. Usher Evans

      Bless you, my awesome new friend. *waves*

  • Have I told you lately that you’re pretty? Bahaha! In my pictures I usually have something attached to my face that shouldn’t be there. There was one with a bottle top pinched to my nose, and my latest one, the where’s Waldo glasses (though everyone says their HP). I don’t take myself too seriously. Yep, I’m a serious writer, who writes serious books, although I am working on a lighter one. Like you, I want people to see my personality, and the photo’s are never taken with the thought ‘I need a new profile pic’ in mind, they are natural, because I’m naturally a joker when I’m not feeling all depressed about my inability to do this or that. I don’t give a stuff if people comment on my photo’s because if the creep factor is involved it’s buh-bye. If I gave it more thought, I’d most likely draw the same conclusions as yourself. One thing that does bother me – I was asked for a more serious picture for an author pic, and I wasn’t too happy about it, because that’s not me. I think I have waffled on again….sorry!

    • S. Usher Evans

      HAH! You silly.

      I think the key is that you should feel happy in whatever photo you put out there. That’s why I was so eager to use Ashley. We had fun, and they look fun, but they can also be used as a “serious” photo. At the end of the day, you need to be happy.

      This blog post was totally simmering for a long time, so it’s a mixture of different things all boiled together. I try not to block people because I’m too nice (I guess), and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they’re just socially awkward. But this was the “I’ve had it and I can’t take it anymore” moment.

      You never waffle. <3!

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