Relationships

Dear Dustin Hoffman, Thank You!

A viral video of the actor gave voice to feelings of beauty I hadn't thought of in many years

Perhaps you've heard that Dustin Hoffman has gone viral. Not for any new movie role, but in an interview (see a snippet below) with AFI about how playing the role of Dorothy Michaels in "Tootsie" blew his mind wide open.

Like a bullet train charging between his frontal lobes, Dustin Hoffman described his profound epiphany about playing a woman, and not a particularly attractive one.

"Any time you feel that a portion of your life is wasted because of a way of thinking that you have had," he says in the interview, "and you think that now you understand something, there's a sadness in having wasted so many years …"

I want to marry him.

I've always looked at myself as half rose/half dandelion. My face fits into the rose category, but my flat-chested, straight-hipped figure is clearly a gangly stemmed dandelion. Which reminds me of the following story ...

On a hot sweaty May day in the 7th grade, when our class was on a field trip, all the boys began taking their shirts off to cool down. Danny Peterson stood up in the middle of our school bus, turned directly to me, smiled widely and shouted, "Hey, Al, you're pretty lucky. It's hot out and the other girls in class can't take their shirts off, but you can, 'cause you ain't got cans up front."

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Guffaws all around — except for me. My face burned with shame. As if I had to be told at the tender age of 12 that I was the only girl not wearing a bra yet. So fixated was Danny on my lack of breasts that he endeared himself even more to me by giving me the nickname "Olive Oyl."

Being tall, thin and flat-chested with a dark ponytail made this an obvious choice, but this boy hurt me daily. Oh, to have a time travel machine and sit Danny Peterson down to view these three minutes of Dustin Hoffman and watch as the actor's words pierce his cold, tiny heart.

I pretty much stayed tall, thin and flat-chested. Not an easy way to go through adolescence and adulthood, when breasts and round hips are prized. Danny Peterson left me feeling that I should be thankful that any boy would even deign to ever speak to me. It hurts to even type that.

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Dustin Hoffman's video has gone viral because it is a touching exhalation of truth, one that moved the actor to tears. How does the world regard the less-than-lovely dandelions among us? Certainly not with the same respect and courtesy as the roses of the world.

Whether you consider yourself a rose or a dandelion, what Hoffman ashamedly admits about the role he once took in our image-obsessed culture is something that is rare and painfully beautiful in its honesty.

I asked my teenage sons to sit and watch this video, and told them about how I was made fun of and glossed over because of my body type. As the truth of this memory came flooding back to me, my throat constricted and my voice broke.

My boys looked at me and suddenly saw not their confident mother, but a wounded 12-year-old girl.

"Mom, I never want to make anyone feel like that," said my older son as he wrapped his arms around me.

Dear Dustin Hoffman, I wish you knew how you just wiped out a lifetime of Danny Peterson for me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

   
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