To be pretty.

People always seem to be so obsessed with beauty–with physical perfection. The Adonis and the Aphrodite; the essence to possess a kind of je ne sais quois and I wonder if this is what it is like to exist: to constantly be searching for vanity at a level that is considered human but parallels narcissism.

I will never be traditionally pretty and it’s always terrified me but I never really understood why–half in part because I never thought the meaning mattered, and half in part because I enjoyed the idealism.

But this I’ve known: in our own lives we have all defined our core with our own truths, our own guidelines. Sometimes they’re created from happiness and the moments of our life that were sheltered by euphoria and handled by epiphanies. Most of the time, they’re created from those days we can’t force ourselves alive but somehow we’re still living.

When you are four and five and six the psychology books tell you that this is the point in your psychological development where you slowly start to become self-aware. When you are four and five and six the psychology books don’t tell you that this is also the point in your psychological development where you slowly start to learn how to hate every part of the skin you are in.

And at eight and nine and ten I promised myself if I could not be pretty I would be smart: and this was my first truth–built on the idea that if my genetics have failed me my logic would not. I would focus on aspects I could control, on things that I would make matter–that my life would not be dictated by some luck of chromosomes and societal ideals.

There is no inherent biological need for a 24 inch waist or slender arms. There is no inherent biological need for dainty features and doll-eyes. There is no longer an inherent biological need to be beautiful. But the funny thing is, the psychology books also tell you that systematic desensitization is harder than classical conditioning; that logic will often lose in matters of the heart–and the funny thing is that my first truth was built on my first lie–and this is all window dressing for shattered panes.

I’m old enough to understand the why. I’m well-read enough to understand the how.

But somehow even after all the bullshit–I’m still not intelligent enough to stop caring about the why not.

2 thoughts on “To be pretty.

  1. Good read.
    Everything that we idealise has been created and fed to us our entire lives. Whenever we see the models on TV, it’s always ones with clear skin, slim waist, blue eyes, blonde hair etc. This then leads us to believe that we aren’t accepted and people would think horribly of us, unless we force ourselves to try and change our appearances so much in an attempt to fit in with the rest.

    There are those that wish to embrace themselves and try to ignore all of the thing shown to them and what this idea of “pretty” really is. It just begins as people’s opinions on beauty which is then fed to everyone else. These people that try to differ from it (for example people that have wacky hair dyes like blue/red) are often seen as strange and “non-normal” individuals, but then again normal is just an idea created by some and fed to others.

    Some people struggle to be themselves and try to look the way they want as they don’t want to be looked down at by everyone else and seen as an outcast to society. Opinions matter heavily to some people, so much that they want to stop being who they are and try to be something they aren’t.

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  2. People tend to care about the physical beauty because it is a part of the first impression. And we know that first impression is incredibly important. It will shape our entire relationship with the person. Not just in the partner sort of thing. People do prefer the company of a physically attractive individuals. And it doesn’t even apply only to humans. We have preferences for dogs and cats and horses and… we like to spend our time more with those good looking.

    While many of the beauty standards are just a fads, manufactured by society and it’s members trying to compete and outshine each other. Some come from much more primal instincts. Girls try to make their eyes look big and eyelashes long because males are biologically programmed to react to that – as the primary feature of babies it is quite effective in ringing their protect and care instinct. The lips are coloured red just as the cheeks because those are the outside signs of ovulation and thus fertility. At least we stopped (mostly) to drip stuff in our eyes to make iris open up. We started using deodorants and perfumes to hide and obscure our natural smell which, mind my speculation, is probably the reason so many relationships fail today – as we on subconscious level judge the immune system compatibility and differences from it, which is proven to be one of the most important aspect in “falling in love”. We are also built to prefer the “pretty” people and animals – as a defence mechanism trying to minimise the contact with those potentially unhealthy.

    The animal/tribal behaviour codes messing us up on subconscious level. The animal part pushed us to strive for physical beauty so we are the ones everyone wants to be with. The ones owning the best genes. To be the ones who pass them ON. The tribal part is pushing us to identify with something. To be a part of some group that will protect us and help us survive. “Metalheads”, “Hipsters”, “Punkers”…. just take any philosophical movement (flower kids, punk, eugenics) – very soon it will become a fashion statement more than anything else. We have to belong, yet be outstanding in our group. As an intensely social animal we find ourselves torn between these two aspects. We live in a world where we judge our own worth from how distant we feel to be from the ideals of beauty. And because these are extremely subjective, the only real result we get is the confidence we have in ourselves. You are an amazing example. While I do not know how did you looked like as a child, you are a picture of classical beauty by MY standards. All the gentle yet distinctive shapes in your face make it delicate, exotic,.. like a dream conjured up from a tales of a sailor that came from beyond the sea. The way you move gracefully can be quite easily considered decorative. How you speak softly even when it’s coloured by emotion. And yet I’m somehow sure, you don’t exactly see that. For you see the flaws and imperfections. Just as I “know” I’m actually not pretty at all and my damn freckles are an asymmetric stains ruining my face.

    When you spoke of guidelines I couldn’t resist to recall the time when I came to terms with me being a lesbian. Because somehow, the society was a well oiled machine to build your expectation about relationships. I was supposed to act and look like this and that, in order to find and keep my dream knight in the shining armour who was supposed to look and act in a specific way. The clash with reality was horrifying and freeing at the same time. I cared not for knights not to mention to take their place for someone else. I found the society and their expectations to stand there with mouths open and nothing to be worth saying – but that I’m somehow wrong. And there were no fairytales about two princesses getting together. No guidelines, no expectations as to how is that even supposed to go. I was left in the void. On what will I build my confidence? What am I worth? Who am I? It is kind of how the two main kinds of lesbians came to be – the butch and the sweetie. One decided to identify with the archetype of the knight, other with the princess. Our brain after all, can only comprehend and work with ideas that have something relating to it. The thinking and the change is gradual. That is why as we find out how superficial and unnecessary our base filters are we struggle to find our place and confidence. Trying to imagine my ladder of values back than would probably be like trying to come up with a new colour.

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