There’s a moment in the movie “The Talented Mr. Ripley” where Gwyneth Paltrow is standing in a boat, and you can see her cellulite.
Probably not if you rent it, though — It’s too subtle. You have to see it on the big screen. The way the light hits her barely-there cottage cheese is magical.
My friend Victoria and I saw it in the theater together. When the camera cut to Gwyneth in her shorts, we turned to each other and squealed, “CELLULITE!!” It was so exciting, we hugged. (Yes, we were adults when we saw it.)
So people take joy in the flaws of movie stars.
It’s fun to see the little, hidden patches that are human. Or better yet, dimpled.
But if you’re not a movie star or some other kind of person with a better life than everyone else’s, then here’s some news:
Nobody focuses on your imperfections the way you do.
I was reminded of this comforting fact three times in the last week:
1. The floor shit
In my House dance class, there was a substitute teacher who was too hard for me. He did floor shit, which I can’t do. (Not to be confused with shit on the floor, which I could do, for a price.) I can get down, but not back up. I say it’s my knees but it might secretly be my less-than-stellar leg strength. Shh.
I felt like a goon screwing up in the front row. So I ran out of the room to drink some water, then slinked back in and took a place in the back row.
After class, I mumbled to someone, “That was hard. I sucked.” She shook her head, surprised. “You did? I didn’t notice.”
I don’t think she said that to be nice. Of course she didn’t notice me spazzing, because she was watching herself. Just like I do. I don’t look at anyone but the teacher, myself, and the best dancer in the class, because she’s spectacular.
OK, fine, sometimes I look around for people who suck, but only when I’m feeling like I suck. So what do they care?
2. The “um”s
I was a guest on Blogcast FM, an interview podcast show. When we recorded the interview, I felt like it went really well. When it was posted online, everyone told me they loved it. That includes people I don’t know, who don’t have to tell me that. Sweet.
But then, when I listened, all I could hear was myself going “um, um, you know, um, you know.” Mortifying. I pictured it going viral, via millions of email forwards and tweets saying, “BEST THING EVER! Listen to this fool say ‘um’ all through an interview ROFLMAO!!”
I decided that I needed to fix this, pronto. I would train myself. I googled “getting rid of ums”. I fantasized about a device that would deliver an electric shock every time I said it.
“You’re supposed to snap a rubber band on your wrist,” my friend Bruce said. I wondered if I could hire someone, or enslave a troll, whose sole job would be to snap the rubber band.
The good news: Bruce said he hadn’t noticed my “um-you-know”s at all. Other people said that, but Bruce is genetically incapable of lying.
3. The hideous pic
Steven sent me a photo he’d snapped with his iphone. It was of me, looking ginormous in my wheat-colored sweater coat. And he’d cc’d our friend. For the record, I’m not ginormous, but I still freak when I look that way in a photo.
I wrote back, “What a horrible picture of me! Why would you send that? DELETE!” His response: “I like it! What’s the matter with it?”
I guess he’d looked at the picture as a whole, instead of obsessing over the bulking effect of my sweater coat.
So here’s my tip:
Next time you think everyone’s pointing and laughing, dwelling on your failings, your “um”s, your dimpled fat, here’s what you do: get over yourself. They don’t care.
Unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow.
NOTE: Who, by the way, has surely rid herself of the cellulite through those rubber-band workouts she does with Madonna’s trainer.
What do you think? Do people spend time thinking about your flaws? Do you obsess over theirs?