In Solidarity With Those Who Have Been Called “Too Much”

I have a bestie who lives far away. When we used to visit only once a year and not keep up with each other regularly, as soon as she would pick me up from the airport I would ask for the current love life run-down. She is polyamorous and it was (and still is) always an interesting mix of folks.

One time, the list included a girl she was particularly fond of and things were going quite well, except that the girl’s other love interest was quite the opposite of my bestie. “I don’t know how to describe her except that she’s just… very beige.”

What made the situation, and Beige herself, so vexing was that the love interest was starting to spurn my bestie for Beige. “I just don’t know what she sees in Beige. She’s the exact opposite of me.”

This love push and pull between my bestie, that girl, and Beige would go on for years, with the girl bouncing back from monogamy with Beige to my bestie and back again.

I have incorporated the descriptor “Beige” in my love vocabulary now. It’s hard to describe what Beige even means, as a personal trait. Maybe it’s just the absence of bold color? I just know it’s pretty much the opposite of glitter. I identify as glitter, which to me is a color.

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Vagina Jenkins has been told that she is “too much”. Also check out her kickstarter so she can bring her too much to your town!

Glenn Marla has a performance piece in Tragic Magic where he talks about people who have been called “too much”. I’ve been called too much my entire life–too fat, too loud, too feminine, too “lipstick” when I first came out, too expressive, too blah blah blah blah blah.

I hate it. I love big and I always express myself. When I am excited about something I get louder, and I really like to be excited. I am effusive in my praise of people, and when I’m with someone in a romantic context I can make them feel like the only person in the room. I’ve been told this by multiple partners, which is why I tend to date Leos. I have also been told that I am a lot different than people expect by a lot of lovers.

I LOVE romance. I really enjoy giving and receiving special attention and courtship. I am so not the kind of girl who can play aloof–I just don’t have time or inclination to pretend to be something I am not. If I can “take it or leave it” I’ll just leave it.

I was told by someone I went on a couple of dates with that I was “a lot to get used to.” It brought up a lot for me–I had so much rage around being told that and it took me a few weeks to unpack. It felt like being told I was too much, even though I know that wasn’t the intention. I guess this post is my way of turning that unexpected rage into productivity.

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Heather has been told she is “too much”. Me, too. That’s why I got big hair, to go along with my big personality.

Heather and I were talking about being too much and how people get so scared and run to the easy, non-threatening beige. “It’s so unfortunate because they could have something so good and so easy, but instead they run away like a coward and don’t want to deal. If I wanted to date people who didn’t want to communicate and were douchebags I’d just go back to straight dudes.”*

We’ve both been left for people who didn’t hold a candle to us. It sucks! I don’t even know how to tell you how to deal with that except just to let it show you who that person really is. If someone prefers beige to glitter than it tells you that they don’t have it in them to date you and they don’t deserve you.

I go out with people and I see they have all of this potential and then all of a sudden they’re dumping you in a picture text message from the Gossip Girl set.** It can take a minute to realize that they really just showed you all you needed to know about them from their bad behavior.

I don’t know what it is like to be left for someone who is fabulous. I’ll let you know if it happens. I don’t usually get left for someone else, though, I get left because people aren’t emotionally ready to deal with anything, not even the conversation where we come to some agreement about what our casual romance, Romance, or ROMANCE could look like.*** I mean, everything is negotiable. And if it isn’t then at least you know it isn’t and that in and of itself is some sort of answer. I just think it’s worse being left in the dust holding nothing and wondering what the hell happened.

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My BFF Rachael, the Donna of Femme Mafia International, has been told that she is “too much”. Hey Atlanta, check out her new monthly Friday Femme Centered party starting THIS Friday, Friends With Benefits. Info here.

My friend Taueret has a tattoo that says “I love harder than expected.” I think that’s true for a lot of Ferocious Femmes and other flamboyant queers. I think it scares people. I mean, it’s true, some of the most scoundrely scoundrels I have dealt with let loose the “I love yous” within a week of starting to date me, which I ate up. I like to think that I am learning how to temper it a bit and be a little bit more skeptical about professions of forever(!!), and of course not profess love too early. But I do believe in showing people affection. And when you’re enthusiastic about people, actually saying “You’re awesome!” instead of hiding who you are and how you feel.

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Taueret. Frankly I just don’t understand how there can be too much of her love.

My bestie Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me once on the heels of another fizzled romance that she feels like this agent who incites change–that she tends to somehow be that catalyst for the people she dates to suddenly start working on their issues, and then they are sadly no longer emotionally available to date. It feels very frustrating when this happens over and over again.

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I feel like if Leah is an agent who incites change, it is somehow made less threatening and more appealing by her propensity for wearing hot miniskirts. I’m just saying.

There’s no great answer to this. I want to tell you all there is absolutely someone out there for you and that suddenly your Prince(ss) charming will show up and tell you that you are SO much instead of TOO much. I do firmly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. I just also know from personal, current experience that it takes empyreal patience to find someone who is in it for the full flamboyance, nurturing, love, whatever you have to give.

It took so much work to become the confident, courageous, colorful and caring person that I am. I won’t quiet it and I won’t be shushed just to make someone like me back. The right romantic interest, friends and community would want me to be my most vibrant self.

Being a risk-taker in love is going to pay off. I will always have experiences worth writing about, good and bad, I will always have things to learn from. I will always keep changing and keep growing. I am the kind of person who needs an adventurous risk-taker to come along for the ride. I encourage everyone to take risks, big and small, in love and in life as much as you can. It is what makes life so much more interesting than beige.

I had a great date with a really hot, fat, tattooed older butch who said they didn’t like make-out parties because “I’m a specialty food. The people who are attracted to me are really into me. But there are lots of people who aren’t.”

I have found a lot of empowerment from this statement. Being a specialty food is something special. It makes me a lot more interesting–going through the work I have had to go through to unlearn self-hatred and myriad of other things has made me a really fun and fascinating person. It makes the days I feel good really fucking shine, for no reason in particular. It means the work I do as a Queer Fat Femme performer, writer and activist is to create visibility. I hope my visibility helps all of the young Queer Fat Femmes out there have an easier time with dating when they’re 31. Maybe in 10 years Queer Fat Femmes won’t be such a speciality food (but will still be special!).

There’s no magic formula to making someone not intimidated by you. There’s no magic formula to helping people get over a lifetime of hatred to love themselves enough to want to date someone who is nice to them. It’s true for any marginalized identity, fat folks, dis/abled folks, people of color, trans folks, survivors, queers, etc…

I can give you this answer: There is only patience and confidence that as a community, if we love each other enough and work to help one another heal, we’ll create queers who are confident enough to love out loud and give glitter (and orange, purple, and paisley) a chance.

*I want to say there are plenty of straight dudes who are not douchebags.
**True story. “Thought of you. Also let’s not see each other anymore.”
***This is why Unicorn Dick is described as that fantastic head, heart, lust, timing combination–timing is often a bitch. Um, also, I hate this trend amongst queers where it feels like we can’t talk about “WHAT IT IS THAT WE’RE DOING” because it’s so threatening to have words for it. Come up with something creative but don’t avoid talking about it because it’ll scare someone away. It just leaves you left with no ending because there was no real beginning. Dangling participles are sucky in grammar and suckier still when they hurt your heart!

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Comments

  1. I feel that there was a lot of misinterpretation of this post. What I took from this article was an attempt at solidarity for anyone who had ever been told they were Too Much or Too Intense. At no point did I feel like anyone who wasn’t outwardly loud or flamboyant was being excluded. I, myself, am outwardly quiet and reserved around anyone I don’t know well. I tend to prefer to live in my own head, and I don’t say anything that isn’t necessary, but I’ve been told that I was Too Much, or Too Intense, or just Too Loud, because once I get comfortable with someone, all of that glitter comes exploding out of me with zero filter. I never felt that Bevin was trying to exclude anyone that wasn’t outwardly colorful or loud at first glance. Nor, by describing someone as Beige, was she trying to say that there are people who are entirely devoid of anything interesting. She was simply calling out to those who have personally been called Too Much by someone, and even dumped because of it. It is possible to be an interesting person without being described as intense or Too Much. But anyways, as an outwardly reserved person who is all glitter on the inside, I very much identified with this post, because I have been referred to as Too Much, many times, even by those who know me the best. Like Bevin, I get loud when I get excited about something (usually a book) and I love very intensely, and that scares people. I think it catches people off guard, since I don’t come off as intense until I let it out, so the girls I date don’t really know what they’re getting into until I finally get comfortable and Awkward Loud Girl starts to show herself. My intensity scares people away all the time, so this post really spoke to me. Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to know that it isn’t just me.

  2. Hey! I just wanted to say that I really love your blog. I’m recently back on the dating market, and it’s been hard to hold my head up through being rejected. But reading and re-reading your blog posts helps me feel good about myself again. Thanks so much.

  3. Guuuurl. PREACH. I just ran across this post. It made my day. It made my life.

    P.S. Technicolor barristers 4eva!

  4. This came up under “other fabulous things” when I was looking at your newer posts and it’s like the sparkle-force knew that this was exactly 200% what I needed today! I’ve been told I’m too much for so long by so many different groups, but am usually around people who appreciate that now. Today was not one of those days. A person I used to love cut me out of his life for being too much of everything – too passionate, emotional, opinionated, “sensitive” (to sexism), loud, honest, dedicated, driven, etc. He used to admire those things about me, but apparently that only applies when it’s all that is directed away from him.
    It’s so serendipitous that this piece found it’s way to me, brought me to tears, and reminded me how beautiful glitter makes the world! Thank you for being so articulately fierce!

  5. Oooohh, grrrl. I know “beige,” and I can say with real certainty that sparkle does sometimes win over safe and unchallenging. Like you, I have been told my entire life that I am too loud, too big, too opinionated, and it’s only been in the last five years or so that I feel like I’ve finally come into my own… some of that has to do with feeling squashed by other people’s expectations.

    Also, I want to harken back to an earlier post – though I was a Unicorn Dick agnostic, my heart and mind has been changed. It’s out there. It sort of found me, when I wasn’t paying attention. It picked me up, clamped my guts in a vice, and finally seems to have settled down to stay. The timing didn’t seem to be right, by his own estimation, but here’s what happened.

    One night several months ago, we were sitting down to finally have “the talk.” This came after a feeble attempt at ending things just prior. Before I left to meet him, I was sitting at my computer at work, and I had this thought of something to say that felt really honest, so I typed it out and hit print. We met, discussed and ruminated for hours, and then I remembered the piece of paper. I pulled it out of my bag and handed it to him. It said “there will never be a right time.”

    Those of us who bring a little more to the table (in so many different ways) need partners who appreciate and celebrate this. Great post!!! <3

  6. As a male hetero, I can tell you that being considered to be “too much” or “a lot to handle” (actually the one I get is “too intense”), and sometimes inadvertantly taking that one yourself as some sort of burden or fault, reaches across all lines. I got over thinking it was me, but, truthfully, that doesn’t help the loneliness much. Still working on that one.

  7. Ohhhh Bevin, this post speaks to my heart! I have spent the ages 7-33 trying to understand, manage, and respond to criticisms of being “a lot to handle” or ” too ____ ” ( fat, loud, butch, mouthy, ambitious, emotional, etc.). Thank you for helping me recognize that the problem is me needing people to like me when they just aren’t a good fit for me. Specialty foods unite!

  8. Bevin,

    While I am not queer or fat (though definitely femme!), one of my BFFs sent your post to me & I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated it.

    I’m a law student who is the antithesis of everything that implies. I love fashion, punk rock, GLITTER, unreasonably high heels and rock several piercings and tattoos. Oh & I live in Washington, DC aka the most conservative fucking place on the planet.

    I recently had a total breakdown over the fact that I feel like at school/for school etc I’m this completely fake person. I have to hide so much of myself, and I don’t do it out of fear of being judged by other students (bc fuck what they think!) but out of respect for my professors. Oh & dating in law school? Ha.

    But I get through it because I know that soon I won’t have to stifle any part of myself anymore and, well, I’m likely one of the most over the top
    people you could ever meet.

    So thank you for this and reminding the fabulously over the top ladies (and boys!) out there that you can’t be anyone but who you are, love it & embrace it and if anyone, lovers or friends, puts you down or judge you for it, youre better off without them.

    Oh, and the love of my life who shattered my heart into little pieces (nearly 3 years later I can’t say I’m totally over) by not following through on his promise to commit when I left our town or law school….is currently dating one of the most beige people I know. She was one of sorority sisters. There’s loyalty for ya ;)

    But I know in the time that ive spent finding the punk rock Barbie glam princess inside, that I’ve become more confident in who I am than I’ve ever felt before.

    I’m gonna go smear some glitter on myself and get back to studying for my wills and trusts final ;)

    Thanks muchly, and much love,

    Mela

  9. This! So much THIS!
    One of my personal definitions (ever in progress) of Femme is, basically, the courage to be Too Much. Because that’s what we are! Too glitter, as you put it. Too glam, too Dressed Up, too flamboyant. Too much makeup, too big hair, too many accessories, too many shoes. Too much legs, tits, ass, and hips, and too damn sure of ourselves doing it! :-D

    Also: “Beige” is a fantastic description of that… that terrified need to blend in and get everyone else to do so, too. And, yeah. It *is* the opposite of Glitter. :-)

  10. I keep coming back to this article time and time again, as someone who is often described as “too much”. I’ve actually been told about being a catalyst for change – but being dumped BECAUSE catalysts are too much to handle – by a school I really wanted to get into! And now I’m trying to work through a quasi-relationship-bust that seems to have Leah’s problem. sigh. <3

  11. Thank you so, so, so much. As someone who has definitely been called “too much”, I almost cried when I read this. You are fabulous.

  12. You’re amazing. Thank you for writing this. That’s all. :)

  13. thanks for this post. after reading, i’m realizing how often i don’t share my needs/wants/desires with lovers (and even with myself) for fear of being “too much” and not wanted. wow.

    here’s to being a specialty food that is sought after and desired.

  14. This was a really moving piece about love, self-acceptance, and empowerment for us fat femmes. Thank you.

  15. Thank you so much for this. I didn’t have the words to describe my experience until I read this post.

  16. it is really painful to be told that you’re too much by someone you love or have loved, and then see them seek out people who are decidedly lacking in the qualities that you respect and try to cultivate in yourself. I want a relationship to go somewhere and be challenging – that is fundamental for me, and I’m not shy about that….and so when I see exes with people who…are seriously un-challenging (what I generally say instead of beige), I feel hurt and kind of disappointed. What I am gradually coming to conclude about people who tell me I’m too much of something is that they don’t feel that they have the resources to engage with me comfortably all the time, and they don’t want to be pushed. I went swimming with two friends once at a gorgeous lake. They were both very strong swimmers and I am not. It was all so beautiful at first that I tried to ignore the fact that the swimming was just too intense for me. Then I found myself in the middle of the lake with barely the energy to move and thought to myself, oh crap. I knew it was going to be too hard for me from the get-go, but it was so beautiful that I had to try anyway. I try to think about people who reject me for the same reasons they were drawn to me (my intensity, my 8 million odd ways of doing things, my intelligence)…as weak swimmers rather than mean people. That helps me with my frustration.

  17. as always, i love your site more with every post i read! thanks for this, bevin. xx

  18. I realized long ago I had your bestie Leah’s “problem”. I’ve tried to adjust, over the years, and be the most positive catalyst for change I can (I even named my company after that, but I jokingly tell people I named it that because we’re “bringing on the apocalypse as fast as possible”) although it’s tough. Yes, I want to believe that their instant “love” (read: the glamour) or profound! interest! (read: fascination) is real and that it will be something that lasts, and yes it hurts when, no, I was just a stepping stone, a trigger. Again. And again.

    Even if it means “being alone” in the long term relationship context, I’m glad that I can help people. There is always a silver lining, even if it’s a barbed one. I suppose if I gave up trying completely over that hurt, I would just be being selfish.

    Peace. Thank you for this one.

  19. This put a lot in relief. Thank you. I think its hard to self-accept when you refuse to conform to stereotypes, but there are lots of people who are different. Its nice to be one of them. all the best, Laura, Ireland

  20. I appreciate what you said, Leah! I definitely agree that this is a dynamic that plays out regarding strong Femmes, no mattter what form that strength takes.

    I surely relate to Clara’s “I’d rather eat glass than get up on a stage”! It is no coincidence that I choose to program fabulous presenters for the Femme Conferences vs. present/perform myself. As an introvert I also get that feeling of being overlooked in queer community.

    And yet I have also heard the too much all my life: too intense, too deep, too sensitive, too smart, too passionate about my causes/beliefs. Really? My favorite because it was such a head-scratcher critique from a soon-to be-ex was “you always have to have a cause!” Yes, yes I do!

    Hurray for “too much” Femmes, whatever form that takes! I love how we live our lives with passion and intensity!

  21. This very particular anti-femininity-that-takes-up-space has sent me on spirals of rage over the years, but I’m getting better at recognizing the dynamic. It turns one persons opinion of a poor fit (as G noted, it’s rooted in their insecurities) into, YOU ARE BEING THE WRONG TYPE OF WOMAN. The “for me” isn’t even implied.

    I’ve started calling it “Glitter Shaming”

  22. Leah Lakshmi says:

    sorry, that should say “those who are quiet or introverted.”

  23. Leah Lakshmi says:

    Hey- I don’t want to get into a big internet argument about this, but I want to say that I didn’t read the above post as an attack on being who are quiet or introverted. I also think that you can be either or both and be called “too much.” I have a lot of hermit in me and I certainly have. I read this post as Bevin articulating a very real, specific community dynamic of telling femmes who take up space, organize, are flamboyant, that they are “too much” as a dismissive gesture that’s often quite painful. And I’m glad she talked about it.

    As someone who didn’t really talk til she was 22, I also have to say that the quality of being beige she describes is not the same as being shy, introverted, quiet or subtle.

  24. part 2…

    In talking w/ a friend who also read this post, I was able to identify why this is sitting with me so badly.

    Bevin, I feel like you usually use your wisdom, insights, experiences, and storytelling skills to build folks up– but in this case, it feels like your comments are building up some at the expense of others and that just doesn’t seem like your style.

    Glitter isn’t a limited resource.

  25. I love every word of Clara’s comment. Thank you for sharing.

    What ran through my head as I read this post (3x trying to get what I want to say in order):

    a) Everyone is “too” something to some people. To some folks, I’m too sad, or too noncommittal, or not spontaneous enough.

    b) If you’re making a beige = boring, glitter = awesome dichotomy here, I’d like to counter that everyone is awesome to someone. Discounting people you don’t know well as “beige” seems as dismissive to me as people who dismiss you (not Bevin, but anyone who feels dismissed for beeing Too Much) .

    Lastly, I can imagine a context where “a lot to get used to” can mean “I’m not accustomed to this much sweet attention, so I’m trying to adjust”.

  26. Thank you, Bevin, for reminding me that my butch fell in love with my Glitter, and that I need to stop retreating to the land of Beige.

  27. Stephanie says:

    Wow Bevin – Thank you so much for writing this thoughtful post!!! It really resonates with me.

    I have always been “too much” for most women. Too purple, too!

    I was left for a beige woman and I, along with all my friends, were left scratching our heads. We actually referred to this person as “beige woman” (no dis to Clara up there) with much irony. I had some part of your analysis formulated for myself (not being able/willing to deal, etc), but you filled in a lot of gaps for me.

    Thanks for being so fabulous!
    xoxo

  28. You’ve definitely made a big difference in my life with the work you’ve done here, on your podcast, and with fatshionista. Thank you, Bevin.

  29. Oh. My. God. Thank you for writing this! My last lover (in an open relo) went for the beige, and I had such an intense period of self doubt afterwards. Questioning if I was too femme, too loud, too shiny. But I couldnt be any less of who I am – and its great to know other’s have had the same experience :D <3

  30. As an introverted queer fat femme, I had a really hard time with this entry.

    I have always been one to hold my cards close to my chest. I also grew up in rural vermont- a culture that puts great value in speaking only if you have something meaningful to say- and this experience has reinforced my natural inclination to be withholding rather than effusive.

    Because of this tendency toward expressing myself less than most folks would in most situations, I am one of those people who would be (and has been) relegated to “beige” often. “Beige” certainly isn’t a term I would choose for myself or anybody else, and both in this entry and in the world, it feels like a harsh judgment.

    For me it takes more time and energy to share myself than to not share myself- and because of that there are a lot of people who haven’t stuck around long enough to really get a glimpse of what you might call my “inner glitter”. There are a lot of folks who have assumed that I’m “beige” and moved on. Which is fine.

    I have no lack of love in my life- I have been blessed with many gorgeous and inspiring friends and loves who bothered to look a little deeper, and been rewarded by striking deep wells of love and magic in me. I appreciate them further because they are by definition the kinds of people who have an innate push to search for value in others.

    And when it comes to expressing love and appreciation: I’m not a big screamer, but you should see the love notes I’ve slipped into people’s pockets. I am sincere and expressive about my thoughts and feelings, I just express them in a way that may not be perceptible from a distance.

    I would rather eat glass than get up on a stage, but I will work for weeks on a birthday present. I am an awful date for a cocktail party, but I’ll paint portraits of you sleeping because I think you are that beautiful. I am a less-than stellar networker, but I will tuck sweet nothings into your lunch box every day. I am the most loyal friend you could ask for. I can listen with my whole consciousness.

    I am not a second best to some extrovert out there, and people aren’t with me only because they’re too small or scared to be with an extroverted person. They are with me because I am fucking awesome. And they stay with me not because I’m less work than an extrovert (trust me, I’m not), but because I also appreciate them, and express love, and support their growth. And no, maybe I don’t advertise perhaps as much as I “should” but that doesn’t mean that I have less value than people who advertise often and well.

    I have just as many redeeming qualities as ferocious own-the-stage leos, you just have to be quiet to see them at first. I suspect the same is probably true for Beige.

    My central point is that it seems like we are profoundly different in this way. You are not too much. I am not too little. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to whisper for the appreciation or acceptance you deserve. I shouldn’t have to force myself to scream. Maybe “glitter” and “beige” are opposites, but I think that if you look closely, neither one has more value than the other.

    • Hey Clara:

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. I’m not trying to say anything about beige except that sometimes people run to it for dating because it’s safer/easier than being with someone who loves intensely and has a big personality. I think that you describe a lot of the “too much” I’ve heard and my other friends have heard over the years in how you love. No shade. I’m just trying to create solidarity and witnessing for those of us who have been left in the dust for being “much” to get used to. On stage personalities and not.

      xo,

      Bevin

  31. Agreed! Love it!
    xo Andi who is often considered a “hand-full”

  32. Thank you for a lovely piece about claiming our power, our truths, and our So Much. I love a lot of things about this post but I also feel a little nervous about calling other people Beige. I think that everyone has something really fabulous about them, whether we can see it or not. I don’t think it’s all that helpful to draw lines around fabulousness. I am a fierce Leo femme, and I regularly adorn myself in beautiful neutrals :)

    • Agreed, there are a lot of folks out there who appear beige and have a lot to them. One of my favorite things is to get people to show me what makes them different and magical.

  33. Yay! Thank you for this.

  34. Once when I was babysitting for a two-year-old, we went to the playground and she asked me to push her “too high” on the swings. She was just learning about language and didn’t understand the nuances of what “too high” meant – that by definition I wouldn’t push her what *I* considered “TOO high,” but it was a fascinating thing to hear. “Too much” is relative…

  35. If someone thinks you’re too much, they usually think too little of themselves and are blaming you for their insecurity.

    It’s frustrating to go through the process of finding those amazing people who have a confident heart and soul, but I’m with you – I think they’re out there waiting for all of us. I think it’s worth the wait, so good on you for not settling.

    • <3 this! “If someone thinks you’re too much, they usually think too little of themselves and are blaming you for their insecurity. ” SO TRUE.

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