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if it's only skin deep
why should i want to be beautiful?
by katherine l (aka clevertitania) (@CleverTitania)
6.27.11
general

Can someone explain this to me?

As I've stated in previous articles, I get annoyed by people who over-compliment my looks. I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we also know that beautiful is not exactly a broad word. For instance, while there are many wonderful descriptors one could use about Linda Hunt, the only people who ever would've called her beautiful (at least in terms of physical beauty)are people who cared deeply for her. And I'm certain this didn't phase her in the slightest. She is a brilliant and talented woman who's made a great career (and presumably life) for herself.

But I wonder, if the internet had been around in her youth, how many times a year Linda Hunt* would have had to tell people that not only was she not beautiful, but she didn't mind all that much.

At least once every few months something happens which requires me to practically defend not being beautiful, and it absolutely baffles me. Obviously this usually comes from dating sites, and most often from men who were taught that flattery and lying are roughly the same thing - and apparently they were also taught that all women are so vain that they'll accept every compliment regardless of it's legitimacy. If there are women like that, I am not among them.

But lately this phenomenon has transferred to my social media life. Several times I've be in a conversation with someone new - or just someone I haven't talked to much before - and the subject of my appearance comes up. This is often in regards to my mentioning the eccentricities of dating, or due to the fact that I always use an avatar instead of a normal photo (or in the case of a certain Best of Intrepid Media collection, a strange Halloween costume moment).

For the record, physically speaking I am not exactly a "Monet". I actually am reasonably nice looking; pretty by the standard definitions. But my appearance has never been able to reflect me properly, at least not like my avatar does. I can't afford to keep the purple streaks I wish I had in my hair, and the rest of my hair refuses to flip the same direction on both sides. While I did lose a lot of weight a few years back, I'm still a 'plus-sized' woman, and I've even put a little back on since I've been working from home. And then there's the fact that I can never afford the glasses I really find flattering, and that it's damned near impossible to find good lavender or pale-blue lip-gloss anywhere (trust me, these are the only colors that really look good on me). But I deal with these realities, and pour my wishes for physical appearance into my avatar.

Don't get me wrong; If I suddenly developed magical powers of transformation I'd definitely turn myself into a full-on hottie (by my definition). And if I won the lottery I'd not only hire a dietician and personal trainer, I'd eventually acquiesce to minimizing my Streisand-like nose and the excessively large glands which impair my ability to buy cute bras and strapless dresses (aside from killing my back). But at the same time, I don't have major self-confidence issues with my appearance. I look the way I look, and I'm fine with that. Because there's more to me than this face/body.

What I lack in looks I make up for in other ways. For one thing, I'm pretty damned smart (top 3% in most standardized tests). I have amazing recall for some subjects (admittedly mostly movie/TV trivia), and when I start a new job, I usually learn the ins-and-outs 3 times faster than other people. I read really fast (I think I finished Deathly Hallows in about 8-10 hours). I've got a better than average singing voice, and I learn songs by-ear in a flash.

I also work exceptionally hard to deal with short-comings I can affect, like; looking people in the eye, slowing my talking down when I'm nervous, avoiding hyperbole when I'm making an argument, and apologizing/admitting it when I'm wrong. I'm also a fairly talented writer and storyteller (if I say so myself). And I'm one of the most up-front people you'll ever meet; I don't hide who I am, or what I want, and I avoid the use of 'girl code'. I hate imposing on others, so I avoid letting others do things for me, and only ask for favors/help when I've exhausted ANY other options.

Much like my appearance, I'm not awesome but I'm pretty OK.

So that leaves me in a strange dilemma. If I point out the realities or my appearance- and my attitude towards them - when someone assumes I'm as good looking as my avatar (you know you wanna), they jump to the conclusion that I'm either looking for ego stroking or I need to improve upon my self-esteem. At which point I'm back to defending my pragmatic approach to my appearance.

But if beauty is more than looks, and if we should care more about what's inside a person than what they look like... why on earth am I having to defend not caring about how I look? Why am I supposed to think (and say) that I'm beautiful, hot, sexy, good-looking, an 8 or above, etc if it's not true? And why do I have to repeatedly clarify my low level of concern for my looks or people automatically think I am highly insecure?

I guess it's this mentality that we must think ourselves exceptional in every way, because if we don't no one else will. And maybe it's true to a degree; in all frankness there aren't many people in the world touting what about me is exceptional. But I don't need the world (or me) to think I'm any more exceptional than I am. To me, that's more a mark of insecurity than being honest about myself. And I'd rather be as honest as I'm capable of, and use my avatar to reflect the me that's inside, than wear a facade of narcissism over my real photo.

But then again, that's just me. :)


*This example is in NO WAY intended to compare my own intelligence or talent to that of the incomparable Ms. Hunt.


ABOUT KATHERINE L (AKA CLEVERTITANIA)

When I grow up, I want to be; whoever Joss Whedon wants to be, when he grows up. I am a writer because it's the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning; aside from eating and using the lavatory of course. My work includes screenplays, short stories, film/TV/music reviews and socio-political commentary. The last one is a fancy way of saying I like to shoot my mouth off on many topics. I excel at using $1.50 words. They gone up, thanks to inflation. Isn't our economy awesome?

more about katherine l (aka clevertitania)

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