#ThrowbackThursday — “Thoughts on Beauty”

I don’t have a particular reason for posting this one at this time; I was just scrolling through my Facebook notes and it caught my attention for some reason. Original post is from June 3, 2013.

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I have a lot of thoughts on this particular topic, and they’re not all connected or necessarily consistent, so I’m going to write a bunch of them up in the disjointed way they ricochet around in my brain.

Not the beauty I’m talking about. But prettyyyyyyyy.

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I like being pretty. Would definitely not trade it for being ugly.

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I don’t think of myself as pretty most of the time. I usually only consider myself pretty when I’m wearing makeup. Without makeup, I think I’m fairly average. If I had to pick numbers on a scale, which I don’t naturally think of but if I absolutely had to, I’d say that without makeup, I’m a 6, maybe a 7 on a good day. With makeup, I’m easily an 8, maybe a 9.

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As an ex of mine pointed out, “There’s no such thing as makeup for boobs.” This is true; they don’t change much no matter what I do. Neither do the rest of the curves. Truth be told, I like my body more than I like my face.

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Faces are a much bigger attraction to me than bodies, though. Which is probably why in my mind, my numerical rank falls so sharply when I’m not wearing makeup, even though obviously my body stays the same.

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It’s only recently that my beauty has become a defining characteristic for me. Like in the last few years. Until then, I’d always seen myself as defined by my brains; people would meet me and their immediate reaction would be, “Wow, you’re really smart.” Now I suspect quite a few people who meet me, especially when I’m all dressed to impress, have the immediate reaction of, “Wow, she’s really hot.”

I cultivated that reaction; I know that. But I’m not sure what shifting that focus has done to me and my self-image. I went through a period where I wanted to shift the focus again, to “Wow, she’s really nice,” but I’m not sure “nice” is ever going to be what comes to mind when people think of me. I’m too rough around the edges for that.

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That’s probably why I wear so many colors and do unusual/“quirky” things with my style — I never want to be just “hot” in a way that obscures me into some generic representation you’d find anywhere on the internet.

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I’d have been a terrible candidate for that Dove ad campaign video, because I almost always think I’m prettier than I am.

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I have days when I feel like I look fantastic — until I look in a mirror. Those are days when mirrors are to be avoided.

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I have days when I feel blah and then I look in a mirror and realize I look pretty awesome. Those are days when I don’t avoid mirrors at all.

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I’ve had days when a relationship was going badly and I looked in the mirror and saw that I looked absolutely beautiful, and I felt like a monster for presenting this face to the public and pulling people in when I was only going to end up hurting them.

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It’s nice to have a conversation with a guy every once in a while when I know he’s unequivocally not interested in me “that way,” when I’m not dressed up or made up or flirting or engaging on any level beyond mind-to-mind. It’s affirming to know that I still have a mind worth engaging with — I worry about that sometimes.

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I think that, generally speaking, I’m a really good person to talk to. But a lot of the time, that makes me think that if I weren’t pretty, most people would rather have me as a friend. My attractiveness just makes things confusing for a little while.

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Sometimes, when I walk into a room full of strangers, I do an instant assessment of whether I am one of — if not the — most attractive girls in the room. It’s shallow and petty and obviously stemming from insecurity, but it’s nice to feel like I’m holding my own in some way, even in the most meaningless, superficial one.

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I don’t think that beauty alone will “snag you a good husband” or get you a fulfilling relationship, because any guy (or girl) worth their salt will be able to tell pretty quickly if there’s nothing beyond the shell. But I do think that being beautiful can get me a second glance, and often buys you more time than you would get otherwise, and sometimes that’s enough to let you get yourself together and make it work. It’s not fair, but I think it’s true.

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I also think it’s true that no matter how hot you are, if the other person is self-respecting enough to realize that you’re just not clicking together properly, or that someone else is a better match, it doesn’t matter one whit.

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I like getting hit on on subways. I complain about it and mock the people who do it and find it hilarious how not-smooth people can be, but I like being noticed as long as I can get away as soon as I want to and don’t feel physically threatened.

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There are situations where I feel physically threatened because of a) being female and b) looking the way I look. You learn power dynamics fairly quickly when you’re a pretty girl. Eye contact is usually a bad idea, unless you’re the one making them uncomfortable for being caught staring. In that case, it’s kind of fun.

There are also a few scenarios where eye contact is okay because the guy can’t possibly follow you anywhere, like if he’s a street performer and you’re walking past. Or if you’re walking down a crowded sidewalk and he’s heading in the other direction and your gazes cross for an instant. But that second one’s still a bit iffy; I have been followed for like half a block by a guy trying to start a conversation because I accidentally made eye contact with him.

Sunglasses are amazing because then you can look wherever you darn well please and nobody knows.

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Smiles are incredibly powerful. Every guy who’s ever crushed on me has singled out my smile as being my most attractive feature. I never used to like my smile much; it’s crooked and asymmetrical, but apparently that’s part of its charm. I’m conscious of deliberately using mine a lot more than I used to, to put people at ease. I evidently have a very warm, non-threatening smile, and on the positive side, that can make people comfortable around me, and on the negative side, it can make people comfortable around me. I rely on it a lot in semi-professional situations.

Also, babies like it.

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Well, those are some of my thoughts on this. Hope your time wasn’t wasted reading them.

I feel like this is a topic people don’t talk about, or if they do, it’s usually in a trashy way or a way that’s either all positive — “let your sexy inner goddess out!!” — or all negative — “beauty is worthless, only the soul matters!!” — and as with all things in life, there’s more to it than that.

(It goes without saying that what I’ve written here in no way speaks for the mindset of all girls, but I will say it anyway: What I’ve written here in no way speaks for the mindset of all girls.)

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