Authors: Jennifer Tress
You’re Not Pretty Enough
Extraordinary stories from an (un) ordinary life.
By Jennifer Tress
Copyright 2013 Jennifer Tress
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Ebook formatting by
For my family.
All of the stories contained here are true and based on my
memories, as well as the memories of others who were associated with the events. To move the story along, sometimes I truncated timelines or consolidated characters. Some names were also changed.
This is a book about defining moments. We all have them, or
a series of them, that when added up give us insight into who we are and why we do things. Come along as I tell you mine…
When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, I asked her where babies came from. Being a feminist and a bohemian, she felt obligated to
be completely honest. She pulled out a copy of
Our Bodies, Ourselves
—the women’s health Bible of that time—and showed me diagrams of reproductive organs and procedures while she narrated.
“When a man’s penis becomes aroused, he enters it into a woman’s vagina. Once there, sperm is released and travels to the woman’s womb. See, this is the womb. An egg is deposited—all women have eggs…”
We have eggs?!
“…If all goes well the sperm from the penis fertilizes the egg, which develops into a baby.” She looked down to see me staring at the pictures, riveted.
“Well,” she continued, “I guess when a man is aroused he
enter a woman’s vagina, but let’s save that story, shall we?”
Yes, let’s. Because I was four.
My mother says that immediately after this conversation I
marched up to my room and emerged two hours later with a collection of pieces that my family now refers to as “The Sex Papers.” These works of “art” are sweet, but subversive. Some of them are titled with the word SEX just in case the viewer wasn’t sure what the scene was depicting.
Here are two naked people sitting across from each other smiling and smoking cigarettes (note the breasts directly under the chin). I think all
the sex scenes in seventies soap operas inspired this—how everyone used to smoke after doing it?
Here's a cheerleader, cheering for sex. Gooooooo SEX! What does the H stand for though? Happy? Horny? Handjobs? Regardless, I obviously felt positively toward it. Sex had to be a good thing if people were cheering about it, right?
And who’s this comely lady with the strange arms and fashion sense? I’m sure this was my interpretation of 70s fashion, but I don’t remember
seeing any dresses with holes cut out so that women could properly display their impossibly perky breasts.
This lady is about to have sex with
guy in a beanie and polka-dot pajamas. She appears to be wearing kneepads, which perhaps shows a penchant for rough sex? Maybe that’s why the word “SEX” is crossed out?
The most technical of all the Sex Papers, most likely influenced by all those damn diagrams.
Which gave way to the actual baby-making process. This is how hot pink people make a baby.
Music played constantly in my home: Crosby, Stills, Nash,
and Young; Elton John; the Beatles; Stones; Michael Jackson; Donna Summer; and…Marlo Thomas. Yes, I was raised to believe in a land where the horses run free, a land where you and me were free to be, well…you and me. So while clearly SEX took precedence as the overriding theme of the Sex Papers, there were other
messages that seeped in. Messages about love, about family, and about being a strong woman. The series concludes with:
“You got to love yourself before you love your baby and your husBENT and when you grow up you
get married to your boyfriend or a boy that you love but the important THINE to do is love the whole family.” TRUTH.
I quickly moved from my drawing phase to playacting and cast my toys and
action figures in an ongoing production called
“Mash Your Privates.” This involved me holding two figures—one in each hand—and making them face each other while clacking their plastic torsos together in a savant-like fashion.
These are the pairings that made sense to me: Leia and Luke,
Storm Trooper and Storm Trooper, Obi Wan and Yoda, C3PO and R2D2, Han Solo and Chewbacca and Weeble Wobble and Barbie. Thinking back on this, she must have had a fetish for little people and a goal: but no matter how hard she tried,
that Weeble Wobble would. just. not. fall. down. Poor Barbie. Always a bottom.
A path my mom didn’t foresee during the “Mash Your Privates” years was plastic doll incest. One day I was mashing the privates of my Donnie
and Marie Osmond dolls, and my Mom walked past this scene with a basket full of laundry, and yelled, “For God’s sake, Jenny, they’re brother and sister!” Then she muttered something incomprehensively and carried the basket upstairs. I
paused for a minute—while
by Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg played in the background—and looked at their frozen, innocent, smiling faces and their matching pink, purple, and tan outfits.
Well, so are Luke and Leia,
and went back to the mashing.
Of course, none of this had any connection whatsoever with the euphoria that comes from feeling turned on. I didn’t know what
until I saw my first Prince video:
Little Red Corvette.
I watched rapt
as he batted his Bambi-like eyes and subtly gyrated with the microphone stand, looked right into the camera, and then, my soul. I didn’t quite
what this feeling was, but I definitely thought a lot about that tiny androgynous
sexpot at night while I wrestled with the sheets.