20 In Body Positive

It’s about damn time that I like me!

It's about damn time that I like me!

My story starts with a defining moment. It was in 1980 when, at age 14, everything started to change.

It was literally a moment, sometime before 1:00 am, when I saw the B 52’s for the first time on Saturday Night Live. They were so weird, so different from anything my friends liked listening to, looked so strange and I knew. I knew right then that my life would never be the same. I knew this was something I had to see more of, know more of, hear more of.

At that age, it’s hard to go against everything your friends are doing.

But I couldn’t get that music out of my mind. And over the span of a few months there was no going back for me. I slowly went deeper and deeper into the world of new wave and punk rock. I changed my appearance as much as my school would allow. And one by one, my friends dropped me. They didn’t understand the music I was listening to. They didn’t want to understand it or hear it. They didn’t like the look I was starting to have. They were content with being mirror images of each other. Reading the same books, listening to the same music, dressing the same way. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I couldn’t. I found me. I found me that night trying to stay awake to watch Saturday Night Live.

It's about damn time that I like me - By Lalia Voce

Before too long I found a whole different group of friends, amazing lifelong friends. We were the freaks. Back in the early 80’s that is what we were known as. Not so much by other kids in school, at least not that I’m aware of, but by other people when we were out. Looking back it seems so silly. But people fear what they don’t know. They judge by what they saw and didn’t care to know the person. We were stared at a lot then, judged and looked down on.

Bela-tattoo

Unfortunate things happened because of those judgments.

Small things like name calling or people clutching their children as we walked by like we like we were going to eat them or something. To being seated in the back of restaurants by management so other patrons wouldn’t have to see us. To really horrible things like being chased by 3 cars loads of teenage boys who managed to get my car stopped and then bashed it with baseball bats, breaking out the back window and potentially really hurting my passengers. We were lucky no one was hurt that night. We did nothing but walk into a McDonald’s that night.

Whether it’s race, sexual orientation, or my stupid ass purple hair and tattoo’s. Yes, it’s 31 years later. But like I said, there was no going back for me. I will always be this person. When you do find yourself, why would you ever go backwards?

Grandma-Tattoo

Nowadays I don’t get as much stink-eye.

Some – yes. And there are still people who judge and look down on me even though they don’t know or want to know me. If they bothered to get to know me and not make snap judgements they would know I went to Catholic school for 12 years. That I started working at age 16 and paid my way through almost everything I ever did. That I had an amazingly close relationship with my Grandmother up until she passed away 3 years ago. That I took a year out of my life to care for my ailing father. That I love animals, zebras in particular. That I have my own business.Β None of that matters. What mattered then and matters now is that my hair is purple. I have tattoo’s. I listen to punk rock music. So what! At this point in my life I’m pretty secure in who I am and I like her. I like her a lot.

At 45 years old,Β I think it’s about damn time that I like me!


This post was a guest post written by Lalia VoceΒ (not her real name), an American writer, food lover, and zebra fan.

  • Barbara
    October 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Beautifully written, thanks for sharing your life and thoughts.
    You made me reflect my own youth, did I feel comfortable with my peers? Guess not, my thinking was different but by appearance I could disappear in a crowd. I admire your courage of expressing yourself in- and outwardly.
    I feel very lucky and blessed to know you. My daughter Rebecca is like you – with her tattoes and stretched earlobes – she gets stares, nasty remarks and more, but she is her unique self as you are. And I have to confess she has taught me a lesson or two, as have you.
    May we never forget to cherish the beauty of difference – have a lovely day, Barbara

    • Lalia
      October 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Barbara. I applaud you for embracing your daughters differences. I’m sure that’s difficult as a parent. My own thought I was on drugs (I wasn’t) or getting into all sorts of horrible things (I wasn’t). My mom, who just celebrated her 80th birthday on Sunday, still gives me the head shake when I get a new tattoo or hair color or whatever, but I know she has pride in me in other ways. =)

  • cath
    October 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Wonderful post…I met Lalia over a year ago through Facebook and liked her from the first moment we talked. We are different. Hell everyone is different. There are no two of us alike on the planet. And Lalia is a step ahead for understanding and embracing that difference.

    Great insight G…thanks for posting it Janine!
    ~cath xo

    • Lalia
      October 18, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks Cath! We both know that each other is best thing that came out of a certain situation. I am thankful for that every single day. You’re support has meant more to me than I could ever ask for. xoxo

  • Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA @ Cerebrations.biz
    October 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    It’s a pleasure to read about you.
    In general, people react (as in act out) negatively to things they can’t comprehend. Given the desire for the ticky-tacky-very ordinary, inevitably that means you.
    The fact that they have the right to not want to associate with you is correct. The facts are that is about the length to which they can go- but why would facts matter to those imbued with prejudice…

    • Lalia
      October 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you Roy πŸ™‚ I also worked for an Ivy League university for 10 years and ran a very successful website about a soap opera for 13 years (well I still do, but the soap ended about a month ago so the website will be ending soon too). No one can say I’m not well rounded! LOL I think people who make snap judgments are missing out on some of the really interesting parts of life. But hey, it’s their loss right? πŸ™‚

  • Thom Brown
    October 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    A huge thumb’s up for this post. Just terrific.

    • Lalia
      October 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks Thom πŸ™‚

  • Marie
    October 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Let your freak flag fly sister! And at almost 42 I can finally say it’s about damn time that I like me too. Now when the crap is that gonna happen…

    • Lalia
      October 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      It will Marie! Trust it. Trust you and you’ll get there πŸ™‚

  • Janette Fuller
    October 19, 2011 at 12:18 am

    When I worked as a school librarian, I would always say…”You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
    It is sad that some people ARE judged by how they look on the outside.
    Inspiring article, Janine!

    • neanster77
      October 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks so much Janette! Glad you were inspired.

      • Lalia
        October 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm

        Thanks Janette! I’m glad it inspired you too πŸ™‚ I think there will ever be a day when people aren’t judged by how they look. I suppose it’s part of human nature to fear what we don’t know. I’ve just always been of the mindset that if I don’t understand something I will ask about. I would much rather someone come up to me and ask me what my tattoo is or why, or why my hair is purple, then just give me the stinkeye scowl and turn away. True sometimes if someone snottily asks me about my hair I will say, “because I can!” but if someone is nice to me, and genuinely interested, I have no problem shooting the breeze. Funny story, a lady came up to me at the grocery store a few weeks go. I had an armload of bananas for a big job (I bake/cater). She asked me if she could take a closer look at my tattoo (Bela) and I said sure. Well she dropped down to her knees and started stroking up and down my leg! That was maybe a little too friendly. lol (turned out she was a huge Bela Lugosi fan)

  • Penelope J.
    October 19, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Wonderful meeting you, Lalia, though I already felt that I knew you from your very personal posts. What I didn’t know is how cruel other people can be and act towards someone whom they see as different. This series (thanks, Janine) often shows or even highlights just that – how being different is somehow not acceptable or even a cause for antipathy and violence. Why this peer pressure to fit in at school and do the same things and look like everyone else?

    I salute you and others like you who dare to be different in this me-too society. Why can’t the rest just learn to mind their own bloody business and let people who are different be different? People like you make the world a much more interesting place.

    • Lalia
      October 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you so much Pennie! I happen to completely agree with you, that people’s differences are what makes life interesting. It’s sad that kids still today have this need to be accepted and liked, sometimes to the detriment of discovering themselves. I hope that changes someday.

  • Muriel
    October 19, 2011 at 1:29 am

    I can’t believe that you have had such a hard time because of the way you look or the type of music that you listen to. We might live in the 21st century but people remain very judgmental. that being said, it is their loss, don’t you think. Just like you, I know that sometimes people don’t like me. And frankly, i don’t care any more. We are so much more than the way we look anyway!

    • Lalia
      October 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      It’s absolutely their loss Muriel! I have amazing friends and meet new ones all the time because of the blog and PBAU (which I will forever be thankful for). xoxo

  • Joy
    October 20, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Go Lalia! I love the sense of power in this post! So much becomes possible when we fully accept ourselves. It’s true that what we fear is that which we don’t know or don’t understand. And as you’ve so clearly illustrated, the sad thing is that some people don’t possess the willingness to try to understand and learn more about you, or anything they don’t ‘get’. Anyway, bravo!

    • Lalia
      October 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you Joy!

  • Snapshot of The Beauty of Difference series
    December 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

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