Monday, October 24, 2016

On Beauty

photo credit

I have never been beautiful and for this I am grateful. I'm not saying that I can't land on "pretty" on a good day and rate better than average most days, but beautiful, the kind of beauty that turns heads and intimidates, that inspires grand gestures, and smooths out the challenges one usually encounters in life, that level of beauty is out of my reach.

In my teens the recognition that my nose was just a little too big and my proportions were a little too small was a source of niggling discomfort, like a bruise you sometimes press just because it's there. In my drawing class in college the further realization that my eyes weren't symmetrical was a stronger spark of pain because my psychology class had labeled symmetry as a defining characteristic of beauty. With this discovery, I could no longer tell myself that I was one small nose job away from attainable beauty, it was quite significantly out of my reach.

But it was also at this time that I was discovering that as much as beauty might be nice, I'm not sure I would choose that if I could. It's true that in real life, no one is offered the option to choose between brains and beauty, but in a sense it often works out that the outcome is beauty or personality.

Those of us who aren't born with startling beauty end up developing other talents to get by in the world. Since our looks aren't greasing the wheels making people want to know us without any effort exerted on our part, we develop a sense of humor, an ability to tell good stories, and a quick wit. I don't think I'd trade that to have people fall all over themselves around me. I prefer to think I'll be the life of the retirement home one day.