It might also be the case that I fail to really bother with dignity a lot of the time.
I say that, but I’m pretty sure I’ve become quite indignant about people failing to offer a basic level of respect. Perhaps even to the extent that I’ve become quite undignified about the matter.
Dignity. It’s a weird ass word. I’m just gonna hop out for a quick definition.
That at least earns me a(n unfunny) comedy answer: 6.99 for Hilary Duff’s fourth studio album, or I’m guessing about 79p for the Dylan track.
Anyway. Confirmation of my thoughts, basically, dignity is two things. Bearing (chin) and being worthy.
Now worthiness if obviously a minefield, but I say you can bear or posture however you like. Walking proud and happy makes me feel sexy and happy. And that costs nothing.
But as for worthiness. I think the problem comes from the fact that nobody else should be telling you what you’re worth. If they decide that, they’ve just cost you your dignity no matter what they think. We mustn’t define others.
And that gives the gift of dignity. And that costs nothing.
So there is no price, as long as you’re giving.
Being dignified? If it costs much it’s not worth it. There are other things you’d be better off doing. Not least because if the other people respected people as default, everyone would have it for free.
It’s clear that I’m guilty of wishful thinking here, because not everyone does that. As I walk about this open minded town, I get eyed up and down and sneered at or giggled at. I look different enough to be robbed of my dignity daily.
Some days I get angry about it. Others I just get hurt by it.
But it still costs nothing to lift my chin a little higher and internally mutter ‘fuck it’.
If people don’t treat you right. The fault is never with you, it is with them. And the odds are it’s not with them, it’s all learned responses and cultural grooming and all sorts of negative forces that create a world that doesn’t make everyone feel dignified and respected. Allowing some people to think it’s okay to rob others of something that should be free for all.
I don’t think I give a shit about it. But it hurts to have it taken. Even as I rise above it.
I’m happy to be undignified, but I still think about what others make of me, much more than I wish I did.
Social expectations pull and push in so many different directions on so many different people. But it’s not uniform, and I think it’s partly because a lot of it is internally generated. You project attitudes on to others, and then judge them judging you.
I keep my chin up.
Illustration by Andy.