Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Recently, a bunch of us authors were chatting about reviews, especially the bad ones.  You all know my disposition on them (especially the one that stated, with authority, that English was my second language and that I write like a high school student).  After falling off the chair laughing (and still waiting for the return email as to where the reviewer got that information), I sobered up and sadly realized that she was probably a very lonely, miserable, and bitter person living in a pile of her own muck.  Books, hence, were likely her only escape from her reality and mine, subsequently, took her somewhere she did NOT want to go.

I (Bree) have learned that, as an author, I can choose to look at things (i.e. negative reviews and nasty emails) as indicators that I got under someone’s skin. As a ‘bruise pusher’ (in my more sadistic mode, lol) that doesn’t particularly bother me anymore.  I see it as an opportunity that perhaps in the attempt to extract my annoying words from their minds, they might eventually come to terms with the reason those words bothered them. I wrote Naked and Defiant to share what happens when someone gets under another person’s skin enough to force them to look at their life and make positive choices. Often, positive choices are uncomfortable, and the changes, painful. Trust me, Jade (the heroine) did not like, or appreciate, being forced to see the truth about herself.  But then, who does?

Change can only happen when we see our flaws, accept them, and do something about it.  Unfortunately, too many people are more comfortable in blaming others because it is easier than changing themselves. Even worse, too many people turn a blind eye to things they know are wrong for fear of being rejected by others. I both love, and hate, this quote:

“If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right.”
― Jules Renard

We have a lot of frightened, lonely people in this world.  An awful lot…I am hoping this book will help people see that it is okay to be flawed and to ask for help.  With positive change comes peace…and with peace, comes joy.  We all want HEA, right? But we can only be responsible for our own change, not others.  We can bring it to their attention and hope that they hear, but it ultimately up to them.

I must quote Jim Burke (Blushing): You can’t put lipstick on a pig. That means that no matter how much you try to cover the thing, it is still, and always will be, a pig.  We can’t change the essence of what a person is inside by trying to justify their behaviors; especially if the reason we are doing so is to make ourselves more comfortable or to earn acceptance and approval. I mean-Why would any of us seek acceptance and approval from someone who only cares about themselves and their wants and desires? I have been at fault for doing that even in my writing career.  There are people out there who we throw away our precious time, energy, and talents while trying to gain their attention, acceptance, praise, and approval.  We do this for people who are neither capable of, nor worthy, to give it. And, for some stupid reason, we still pursue the relationship hoping something we say or do is going to give us what we need.  Do I hear an Amen Sista? We will do almost anything, except leave the relationship. Why?

We are afraid of being lonely. So much so that we stay in unsafe, unhealthy, and unnecessary relationships. Unsafe people come in many shapes, sizes and mentalities. They could be predators, cyberbullies, gossips and newsmongers, bosses (anything to make a buck), jealous coworkers, indiscreet family members, or what one of my girls called ‘ostriches’.  Those are the worst, in my opinion.  Hiding your head in the sand will not make anything go away. Plus, it leaves your butt in full view to get kicked! What’s even worse than justifying the behavior, is trying to force them to change.

Mark Twain said, ‘never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you up with experience.’

This is a necessary lesson, I am afraid to say, for many of us. John pointed out to me how much time and energy I waste by trying to put lipstick on pigs. It is a useless endeavor that has cost me peace of mind and several nights sleep and, thus, an activity that I need to stop. Isn’t it glorious that we never stop screwing up and learning something about ourselves?! Yeah, I’m grumbling too….

Bottom line is that we must do what we can, as we feel is right, and not allow anyone to sway us from where we must go. Right and wrong are often a matter of perception.  Perception is based on personal experience, ethics and values.  Ultimately, we have to ask…Who or what is more important and why? Your answer will expose the true nature of your heart.

Think about these quotes…

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

“…Next time you’re faced with a choice, do the right thing. It hurts everyone less in the long run.”
― Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
― Augustine of Hippo

“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
― Abraham Lincoln



John and Bree

9 thoughts on “Putting Lipstick on a Pig

  1. The pig references amused me, the logic behind it makes me take a long, hard look at myself. I have been upset many times by negative reviews, and completely negative (not constructive) criticism. I seek approval from sources where I know I will not get it, yet still I bang my head against the brick wall, trying to change that person and make them care. Maybe it’s time to turn my back on the ungrateful pig that is unworthy of my lipstick – and my loyalty! My shattered confidence is slowly being rebuilt, and I see things a lot more clearly with the help of good friends. Not really sure why, but I’ve just screwed up my nose and grunted like a pig. Very therapeutic. LOL.

  2. Let’s not hate on the “ostriches.” It’s a tactic I’ve employed numerous times, and is an adequate technique for avoiding confrontation and potentially endless animosity, or, far worse, hurting someone. Ok… I already was less than pleased with my tendency to behave this way, and after reading this unflattering (but very succinct) description earlier today, I’ve found myself unable to avoid some much overdue reflection and self-examination. It’s been a long day.

    Here’s the thing: Is it not excusable to do ‘nothing’ if acting on what I believe is right, will only serve to hurt someone else? I thought that leaving my head buried in the sand was better than enduring the guilt of inflicting pain on someone else (deserved though it may be). Honestly, my conscience dictated that if I’m the only one being hurt by saying nothing, than that was the right decision. But the more time that passes, the less sure I am. I’ve resolved nothing.

    Indecision is my worst enemy.

    Thanks for this post. It was thought-provoking. While I’m not sitting very easily with my own thoughts after reading it, I’m glad I did.

    • I’d like to point out some famous “ostriches”, which are the ones from WWII. I know this is an extreme example, but think of the people who did nothing but watch during the war. Many German children experience second generation guilt because of their parents having done either nothing or they were on the Nazi’s side. I think being an “ostrich” is fine. There’s fighters and there’s flighters. I’d rather flee, just leave it in the past, not hurt one and not hurt the other. Them doing nothing did not make the war stop, and people continued to be killed, but it protected themselves and their own environment. Does this sound heroic? No. Is it understandable? Yes. We all have a circle we want to protect. Everyone else outside that circle, cruely enough, comes second…

      What I’m saying is, being an “ostrich” is not a crime, it’s your nature. Just make sure you never lose your dignity!

    • “We are afraid of being lonely. So much so that we stay in unsafe, unhealthy, and unnecessary relationships. ”

      This really just struck me and how true this can be when we open our hearts and allow people in who bring absolutely nothing to the relationship. Why do we do this? Is its loneliness or vulnerability that causes us to allow this. Definitely something to think about.

      • That quote is entirely too close to home for me….that’s a big part of why I stay in an unsafe environment.

  3. Wow that explains my life perfectly. First with my mother and now with my husband. That is really sad that I married someone just like my mother(didn’t I do that backwards). The bad part is that I know I am lonely and I hate being alone but every time I leave I end up right back. That is because I always wanted my own home with a real family and that is the only thing that my husband offers me.

  4. I love this post, because it surely is true, and I hate it, because it points out one of my major flaws: I’m a people pleaser. I’d do anything to make them smile, feel loved, important, etc. I know it’s a bad characteristic (at least, it is bad for myself, obviously not for the others!), but I keep it. I keep doing it, I let people walk over me and I just please them as much as they go, and often their tramping hurts. It gives me nothing in return… Well, it does. And this is the only reason why I keep it: people like me. They accept me, and like to have me around, because I’ll be the one getting drinks and food during the film, I’ll be the one cleaning up after, so the others don’t have to worry about it. I study even during nighttime, so I know I get good grades, which will please my parents, my grandparents, and other family members. It’s a characteristic that makes me suffer, because I barely do anything for ME, but it keeps me safe in the best way, because PEOPLE LIKE ME. Is it worth it? I’m still ignorant enough to say yes (and I probably will say yes until it kills me). Obviously I’m not ready to let go of it and change…

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