Saturday, March 24, 2012

tell me I'm pretty

y'know sometimes synchronicity is a clue by four... There is an ongoing subtext, at least for this woman, maybe for most women in our culture, about being pretty. Even someone like our plucky heroine here, who spends as little time as possible immersed in the dominant paradigm, cannot escape that tyranny.

I remember, when as a teen, having some of the peculiar teeth genetics dealt me sorted out. When the suggestion was floated to grind and cap them, to make them look more normal, my response was "why?, it is not like I am any kind of beauty queen"... had already decided by then that looks were not the coin for me to play in this life. As a young adult, being short and round and unconventional in looks was just another aspect barring me from easy intimate social interaction, like my intense shyness, or the lack of common ground, or the wonky, difficult, and/or nonexistent communication skills, or, or...

I grew up. Life taught me things, and my ability to function in the world of other people improved, rather quite a bit over the years. Eventually I learned the trick of chosen happiness despite circumstances, which is probably the most useful trick I know, even better than thingmaking. But the years of not-being-pretty, of being invisible, are part of the shape of my life. How many folks have heard me say about my beloved Smokey, when described as what a beautiful dog, heard me say "I get to be useful, she gets to be pretty"... I put all my internal cards on useful, always have, and take a fair bit of pride in the competence I have acquired over the years, in spite of the necessity that drove it.

But part of me, in the Firefly world, speaks with Kaylee's wistful voice, saying "Wash, tell me I'm pretty"...

Had an interesting talk with G about this, and his thoughts and words were of help, not simple "well to me you are pretty", but more deeply poetic and cogitated, about where beauty lives in us all, and how and when we choose to let that light out. You read in story sometimes, of the "plain" woman who only when seen in a certain way, or only when she smiles, and her beauty inside suddenly glows and is seen. All my life have intensely disliked being photographed, the visual equivalent of hearing one's own voice on tape; but my foolish loving girlself tells me to sit still and allow this, and that is how and why there are a few pictures he has taken of me where the who I am is visible in beauty.

I have nothing like the body I lived with as a young woman, gravity has shifted my curves further south, and the thick hair and smooth skin of that time are long gone. But I’d not trade the knowledge and viewpoints I have now for that young body and ignorant and troubled mind. As I now do what I can to heal from uterine cancer, and live with the results of that, I remind myself that we all are beautiful, all of us in the bright world have our own beauty. Patina is not only beautiful on objects, it is beautiful on people too
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Two very different essays that I found today, in my internet wanderings, that both speak to the confusion, both worth reading:
A Small Thank You to a Part of Myself
from Jackie Morris Artist, the blog of an amazing artist living in Wales

Pieces Of You: The hottest girl in the room isn't necessarily who you think
from a place I'd never think to look, Elle magazine blog.


  1. I think that as we age we become Wabi-Sabi,a little bit worn in a natural way but full of knowledge and history.There's a lot of beauty in that.

  2. The wisdom you have, can not come in a jar, from a treatment, even from fate. I have a photo album on a table. People who I did not grow up with, look at and say "WOW you were stunning!". I don't cringe, at the word "WERE" or even at the word used to describe me, as I neer considered myself anything but the thick glassed/braces/flat chested thing I was at 14. Yet, I used it, modeling to help pay for flight lessons, as unconcerned then as now about what was simply a quirk of fate.

    I only modeled briefly, finding the whole concept of one's self worth being tied up in the superficial, a concept I never embraced. I washed off the makeup, let my hair go curly and hit life running, letting the sky uplift me, even as gravity took over my form.

    Now when I hear the word "were" I don't care, don't run to the plastic surgeon, don't spend hundreds on cosmetics. What is within, what is true beauty, will always be seen by the one that loves me.

    You, my friend, are beautiful in all the senses that matter.