Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Beauty...

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

"You're beautiful on the inside."

"Yes, but you're nice."


As a former ugly, fat, and low-self-confidence person, I can truly say these are THE most hated phrases we like to hear.

Why? Well, we know the sentiments are well-intentioned, but that does not help when billboard after magazine cover after television ad all show what is truly valued in our society--physical beauty.

The perfect abs. The well-formed pecs. The chiseled jaw line. The perky boobs. The all-but-impossible flat stomach.

Lucky for me, I almost have the chiseled jaw line. Everything else is a work in progress.

And I say "former ugly person" for only one very specific reason: I no longer feel ugly, but it isn't because I could now grace the cover of PlayGirl and get a standing ovation. And I also can't say it's because I now value my looks over my personality. If it came right down to it, I'd choose my personality--but it would be a hard choice.

Looks come with entitlement. We, even subconsciously, extrapolate onto beautiful people a beautiful personality. We stare at them longer, want to be standing near them in the hopes that some of that beauty will "spill over" onto us, laugh louder at their jokes in the hopes that getting their attention will make us just that much more attractive to others...

Yes, that was me. The "hoverer." An Ugly Betty, if you will, living in what seemed to be a Mode world.

Amanda: You're so lucky, Betty. I never know if men like me because of my personality or because of my looks.
Cry me a fucking river, Amanda.

You can add that quote to the list of things we ugo's quite hate to hear: After all, just because the Amanda's of the world can't judge who likes her for her looks and who likes her because of her personality is her failing. Not ours. So don't push it off on us.

I think all of us have these parts of our personality, however. "How do I look?" "Does this outfit highlight all the right parts?" "Does this make me look fat?" "How does my hair look?" We all want to present ourselves the most attractive way possible, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, none of us can blame the genetic lottery for being ugly OR for being considered beautiful. That's just a fact. And neither can we blame the beautiful people of the world for taking advantage of their sheer luck at high cheekbones, a propensity for higher metabolic rates, or that bubble butt.

And we ugo's have only ourselves to blame for not hitting the gym.

That being said: We have no way of judging whether you meant that tip on getting rid of that bulge as a well-meaning piece of friendly advice, or as an opportunity to make yourself feel better about your non-bulge at our expense--and just maybe, it was both.

But unless we ask for that advice, keep it to yourself. It only serves to make us self-conscious about one more thing on our growing list of how we feel inadequate to be human in your presence. We don't want to hear about our great personalities--after all, we're the ones that perfected "great personality" since we didn't have bikini-bodies to fall back on. We don't want to hear about the trials of being beautiful--we'll never have that problem despite hours spent trying in our bathrooms and beauty parlors across the globe. (As my cousin Courtney likes to say, "I'm a beautician, not a magician!") And we certainly don't want to hear about how we're beautiful on the inside because it's nothing more than a metaphor for how ugly we are on the outside.

And we certainly don't need reminded of that.

Learning to love myself, especially after a young woman in junior high named Stephanie told me, quite out of the blue, that I was so ugly she was amazed anyone would even consider dating me, was quite an uphill battle. All I was doing was standing by the biology classroom door, waiting for the bell to ring so I could go to my locker and get the books I needed for the next class. Thanks, Steph. I hope your thin, straight hair has started falling out. (But that's not the nice part of my personality, so--forget I even thought it...)

The point of this post? Not sure--maybe I just need to get these things out here onto the blogosphere so I can move on. Maybe I just want to let my fellow ugo's know that we've all been there, are still there, and never quite leave there. After all, even today when someone lets me know they find me attractive, I can ride that high feelings for days, if not weeks. And I hate myself for that. I hate that that part of my past days of low-self-confidence continues to live on.

I've realized I'll never be "Male Model of the Year," or even anything close. But I have learned to work with what I have, and that took some hard work.

But--dear, sweet, well-meaning beautiful people? Go suck my personality.

6 comments:

Jason the Amazing said...

Something that really bothers me is large guys that think they're ugly because they're big. It's so common to hear people say, "You're not fat....you're just [insert synonym here]."
Sometimes he really is fat and I can't tell him otherwise. But that doesn't mean that he isn't damn sexy. The hottest guys are all overweight, often times more than just a little bit. But you've also got to own it. You can't try to hide little bits here and there and pretend to be thinner, you've got to throw on something that shows the world who you are and be proud of it. That's hot too.

Jason Hughes said...

So true, Jason--fat CAN be sexy, and it's all because OF the owning of who we are where we are. :)

Sylvia June Olley said...

so true... I love your blogs Ja!

Chris said...

You really got me with this post, I think I could write a book in response :)

I was told I was ugly when I was 7. By a friend's older brother. I don't even have to say what kind of loser he grew up to be, but you don't really forget something like that. He can suck on my personality for sure.

The kind of beauty we tend to 'hover' around today is mostly the mass-media mainstream kind of beauty - often arbitrary, airbrushed and therefore unattainable, and therefore eternally frustrating - for everyone.

However, all of us have *something* of that coveted set you mention: some of us are proud of their butts, some of their boobs, some of their chiselled jaw-line and so on. There are no absolutes here, I think: no one is perfectly beautiful, or perfectly ugly. And even when we feel ugly, there is someone out there that finds us beautiful or has a crush on us but is too afraid to speak (perhaps we just happen to talk to the wrong people in our school years haha).

I was just chatting about this with a friend today, and told her my opinion: once you finally grow into your body and start to own it, you will treat it well by hitting the gym and eating healthy because it is yours, and because it deserves to be treated well. If, on the other hand, you wait for that perfect reflection in the mirror before you can start liking yourself, then you just might never experience what it means to be comfortable in your own skin.

Jason Hughes said...

Wonderfully said, Chris! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts... It's true, though--perhaps I SHOULD have talked to different people in high school, LOL!

Learning to own your body is never an easy process--esp in today's age of photoshop, as you said.

Jason the Amazing said...

Something that really bothers me is large guys that think they're ugly because they're big. It's so common to hear people say, "You're not fat....you're just [insert synonym here]."
Sometimes he really is fat and I can't tell him otherwise. But that doesn't mean that he isn't damn sexy. The hottest guys are all overweight, often times more than just a little bit. But you've also got to own it. You can't try to hide little bits here and there and pretend to be thinner, you've got to throw on something that shows the world who you are and be proud of it. That's hot too.