(At the end of a long day, it’s nice to throw off your clothes, drop your scythe, and lounge on a mountaintop alter with your peacock. Image source.)
The very best thing about blogging is getting to know fantastic people. On November 11, 2006, I posted the following words to Myspace. Somehow, Jen happened upon them. We started a correspondence, and soon became NHB friends and two of the world’s most prolific email composers. Soon we branched into phone calls snail mail, too, discussing everything from children to sex to ‘what to do when you lose your religion.’
Here’s the post that introduced me to Jen. It’s not great writing, but it launched a truly great friendship:
I’ve been thinking a lot about Beauty lately. For years, if you want the truth, I seldom last an hour without stopping to ponder something vapid and pointless. I collect books about hair, makeup, clothing, charm and style… I hate to admit to it.
I crave beauty in all things. Once, as I was rambling about how pretty giraffes are, Gregory interrupted to say, “With you, everything has to be pretty.” It stung a little, but I couldn’t argue. I want beauty in everything. Friends, pets, dishes, makeup compacts, writing implements, fruits and veggies…
When people don’t find me attractive, it hurts my feelings to be written off and ignored because of my face. I hate to wonder who could learn to love me if I were prettier, more polished, more graceful. I wonder who could mistake a fancy face for a good heart.
When people DO find me attractive, it hurts my feelings to be praised and envied because of my genes. It scares me to think of who’s imagined they loved me, when really I just suited their image, their ideals. I wonder who wouldn’t want to be seen with me if I went bald, put on weight, dressed differently, etc..
Compliments don’t make me feel more secure, they make me more sure that I’ll disappoint people, that one day they’ll all look at me and say, “Yeesh, what did I see in her?!”
Occasionally, friends or strangers stop me on the street to tell me how much they admire my looks. In a way, it surprises me. I seldom feel appealing, let alone beautiful; I’m scruffy, acne-ridden, poorly dressed, and rarely make much effort to look better. I eat too much. My hair hates me. I can name at least twenty things about my face and body that shame me and make me uncomfortable in public settings.
But in a way, I’ve come to expect the praise. I’ve been getting these weird compliments for so long, I’m beginning to accept the idea that other humans see something in me, heaven knows what.
Spending my days on campus makes the problem better and worse: there are literally thousands of prettier women on campus, which keeps me grounded in reality and grateful for the friends who love my soul. But… being surrounded by thousands of pretty women all day makes me even less secure, I always want to look like them, with their sleek, shining hair, amazing bodies and glorious clothes. I feel frumpy, unkempt. Unlovable.
Once, I had a crush on a very, very striking Italian named Allessandro. He wasn’t classically handsome, but he was so striking… I was always nervous around him, I could hardly breathe. It made my heart ache to realize that he’d never even notice a clunky, messy thing like me. But maybe Allessandro felt the way I have, afraid of people only loving his face and form. Who knows? I’d have asked him, but I couldn’t breathe.
Friends have been hounding me for months to put up new Myspace pictures, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Posting pictures invites more scrutiny, more room to be hit on or written off entirely.
I wish beauty didn’t matter. I wish we didn’t spend zillions of dollars trying to change ourselves. I wish eating disorders didn’t exist, that women weren’t judged so harshly for the way they/we look.
I wish I could take each of my friends aside for ten minutes and tell them how beautiful they are to me, every little detail that makes them gorgeous. I know so many people who can’t see how priceless they are, can’t see the way they sparkle when they laugh, all their adorable expressions and mannerisms, the way their eyes light up and their cheeks flush when they’re talking passionately. I wish they could see themselves the way I see them. But then, that would be placing too much importance on beauty again. Sigh.
Blah, blah blahhh….. Please note that this isn’t a plea for flattery. I don’t want people writing to me and saying, “Guurl, dont you worry any about bein pretty, your beautful! ttyl!” The point is… … I just wish no one cared about my face or form, and that I didn’t care about theirs.
IMPORTANT EDITOR’S NOTE: The instant after I posted this blog, I got a message from a stranger. Here are his exact words: “Hi how are you doing day? Sorry to bother you but i was amazed at your beauty!!!! Would you care to chat a little bit?” His comedic timing is flawless.
(Happy January, Jen! I’d hoped to publish this on your birthday. Close enough for horseshoes?)