Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Skinny" By Filter- Wearing Masks, But That's Okay (In The End)

I know I alluded to a different song before, but this one came up randomly on iTunes, and since  it's easier to find a good version of it on YouTube, here you go.




So let's just jump in, shall we? First, an overall reading. So here's the whole set of lyrics: 

So here you are in your small little world
Kept up like  a precious little virgin girl
To hear about your grace and your silly face
Wrapped up like a knot in a ball of shoe lace
And every time I talk to you

It sounds like you're caught in a psychological flu

Don't ever let them see you cheat
Don't ever let them see you bleed
Don't ever let them shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam

Skinny, and it will make you cry
Skinny, and it will make you lie
Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

And if you take a good look  at them
All caught up in their graciousless win
Every sin in their seamless smile
Will go on for a countless while
And just because they think they won

It just means that the shit has just begun

Don't ever let them see you cheat

Don't ever let them see you beat
Don't ever let them  shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam


Skinny, and it will make you cry
Skinny, and it will make  you lie
Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

So one thing to keep in mind, is that if I'm not given the direct source material for a poem or song lyrics (as in a published book, the band's official website or the book that comes with the album), I don't do much punctuation and let the breaks in the song do most of the sentence structure for me. 

The obvious metaphor this song is about isn't very metaphoric at all, but rather ironic- "Skinny," the "virgin girl" in question is, in my own reading of the song, a non-skinny girl. A nice girl, one that people must like because they want to be around her. But she gets taken advantage of and passed over a lot because, in part, she's not conventionally attractive (I've been using that phrase a lot lately, haven't I?). It reminds me of the trope of the chubby sidekick with the pretty, (sometimes mean, and) skinny friend that's the lead in the book/movie/etc. She usually doesn't get what she wants in the end of the movie, although it may be alluded to comically that she falls for some equally unattractive, loserly guy that falls back.

So the "scams" and "graciousless wins" are how the beautiful people in pop culture and society get away with a lot of shit that a less attractive person wouldn't. And that they don't even really take notice of the people that help them along the way.

As a chubby gal, I can relate to this. I call this blog "American Dramedy," and one of the aspects of my life that makes it so is that I am that chubby sidekick. Not to say any of my friends are skinny bitches, nononono. But I'm the funny, sweet, curvy girl that provides the comic relief or the comfort to the people around her, but whose own needs usually get passed up in the end. I know I sound whiney, but I'm not whining- I realize this is at least partially my doing. I focus a lot on what other people need. Because I'm by my inherent nature an empathetic, nurturing person. So I help my friends through their problems, give them advice, and cheer them on when things are going well. And this is why I've been asked to be in ten different weddings since I graduated high school (although I haven't been able to participate in all of them), and asked to attend another eight. This is why I am usually the target for the bullies at school (and I use the present tense because even in grad school, I'm still being bullied). And then, unfortunately, when I do try  to get what I want, it never works out. If I was the star of the rom-com, when I said, "I love you," he would  have come to his senses. Since I'm the chubby sidekick, he told me to look for other men. Etc. I can help a cratpton of friends plan and execute their weddings, but... well... yeah.

And career/school-wise, it's pretty similar. I keep most of the school crap that's bothering me to myself, and I'm sure most of my friends do the same. But 
this relates to the deeper, smaller  meanings in the song. I think this song is also about wearing masks and pretending. I feel like this song is my grad school experience.


Don't ever let them see you cheat

I have the reputation of being the sweet one, so I really can't resort to the same backstabbing and petty bullshit the people around me sometimes fall into. Which is a good thing, because I'd rather not get into that. But at the same time, it also means I'm not cut-throat enough to get what I want. I'm certainly not studying the kinds  of things (or using the kinds of methods) that could get me recognition. And I'll admit, a lot of it has been terrible luck in what I've been assigned and some of the cards I've been dealt while here, but still. I get condescended to and told how I need to reform myself and play the game and suck it up and just go and do quantitative methods because that's the only way anyone will take you seriously and oh, theory? Hah, that's adorable! So I downplay what I'm doing, even though it actually is pretty Goddamned innovative (for political science, anyway- poli sci is behind a lot of other social sciences on things like poverty and disability, go figure). And I play along when people talk smack about one another in front of me and say things like, "I got better grades than Soandso, why do they have funding and I don't?" But I don't ever say that about myself or other people. I don't want anyone to think I'm remotely like that- because, hey, I'm not.


Don't ever let them see you bleed

But I also have to convince everyone I have my shit together. Since I have the reputation of being happy and bubbly, I can't let on when I'm not. And lately, that's most of the time. And while there are a few people that care enough about me to recognize when I'm faking, most of the people here are too self-centered to give a damn and don't even notice when I'm too exhausted to fake smiling anymore. Most of the time, saying I'm just tired is enough, since, well, everybody is tired. But every so often, someone will say, "No, really, what's the matter?" That happened with someone last semester during a break in a class, and I seriously had a sobfest in the bathroom because damn, someone actually cares enough to notice I'm full of shit? But even then, I tried to lie and said I needed to use the restroom and didn't let that person or anyone else see me crying.

In general, as I've said before, I usually have to be the strong one in the family, and this translates itself to my friendships, too. I keep what's really going on in my head and heart to myself most of the time, because if they see my weaknesses, they'll exploit them and destroy anything I've made for myself here. I've had some pretty deep secrets given away by someone here, someone I trusted- they let everybody know really quick, even though they swore it would be a secret. So I feel as if I can't open up. I hide my wounds, and wear a mask of strength and happiness; inside, I'm a cracked vase that's one tap away from shattering (or at least, it feels that way sometimes- not always, don't think I'm entirely maudlin and whatnot). 


Don't ever let them shake your hand
Don't ever let them believe that scam

But I really shouldn't resort to their games, and maybe I should just stop faking and let it out. Tell them I think they're all a bunch of self-absorbed assholes that can go fuck cacti and sleep in a bed of fire ants for all I care. 


Skinny, and it will make you cry

I cry. Oh God, do I cry. They make me cry. Life makes me cry, and I cry more because I realize I can't turn to most of the people here. And anyone I would trust enough to not turn it into a therapy session for them, well, I care about them too much to burden them with my problems. So I isolate myself somewhat accidentally, but also somewhat intentionally, and I hate it. Because I'm extremely codependent. 

Skinny, and it will make you lie

So I keep lying. And also watching how I communicate more than ever- it's hard to be around a bunch of intellectuals that pick apart every semantical detail of what you say/post/email/whatever and tear you down every chance they get, remind you that you're using one word wrong, etc. I hold my opinions on a lot of things back because, invariably, when I let myself go, someone, often someone I care a lot about or have a lot of respect for, will basically tell me I'm an idiot. I can't help it if I'm emotional, but emotion can't match intellect, so I always lose out. So I don't answer questions, and I keep my interpretations to myself a lot.

Skinny, and if it makes you soft inside
Skinny, at least you will not die

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," may be bullshit to some people, and I don't entirely buy into it, myself. But what I do know is that all of the things I've been through- as a kid, now- have made me who I am. And I'm a damn good person. I'm kind, I'm loyal, I'm fun, I'm earnest, I'm loving, I'm selfless... I soldier on, and I become a better person for all of the shitstorms I live through every day.

So while the whole song may seem kind of dark, I actually see it very positively. Despite all of the reasons I may have to give up, I don't. And the important stuff about me doesn't change. I'm a softie, sure, but that's also a good thing, because it means I care about people, and they feel they can trust me and look to me. I'm reliable, a Good People to have around as a friend, and I'd be a catch as a lover. And I wouldn't be that way if I had had everything spoon fed to me from a silver platter. And seeing some of the assholes I have to deal with, and the oppression and willful ignorance ("White Supremacy" was written on a mirror in my university's Black Cultural Center a few days ago, for example) shows me lots of things I most definitely know I don't want to be. And whenever I see myself turning into that, I take a step back and remove myself, even if only mentally. And I tell myself, "Gab, don't go there." And to apologize, if necessary. 


So I won't die, and, fuck, I have no interest in that. I love life and people too much. I want to live as long as possible so I can experience all of the beauty and good things that are in my future- whether they're ones I make myself, or ones I happen across.

So to wrap this up, here, have a rainbow, with a bonus unicorn, because damnit, I AM special:





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