Thursday, May 12, 2005

Even if you've learned to survive by your wits, it's nice to be told you're pretty every once in a while.

At a very young age, I was told that I'd better develop the brain, as the looks weren't going to get me far. This hurt, but I took the advice to heart. I prefer to be loved and valued for my personality, rather than be viewed as an ornament. Still, I'm starting to enjoy the little bit of warmth I feel after the initial denial/embarassment when someone compliments me on my appearance. It feels kind of nice to be considered attractive in some aspects, to give others pleasure just by being there to be seen. This doesn't make me vain, does it?

-via Richard Lawrence Cohen


Simon Kenton said...

My mother had a couple of lines that have proven unforgettable:

Woundedly; I aged about 12: "You're just so insensitive. You're just a clod."

Reflectively, when I was aged 14: "I just don't understand how you and your brother can be so homely. Your father and I are such pretty people."

Trauma. Victim. Psychic miseries, manfully shared. Aggrieved whines at cocktail parties. Yada. The second one of these remarks, which I completely assimilated, actually turned out, to be a lovely boon, and highly gratifying, via the Bebere effect. Of course I was dim, and not quickly able to apprehend what was happening, but when a Marilyn-Monroe lookalike began to show actual, undeniable attraction, it was sensational. I'm convinced no Marcello Mastroianni, beautiful from birth, ever got to go through that rapturous sequence:

"What? Of course. It's him, over there."

"It's ... not him?"

"Wait. No way. You're teasing. No way it's me."

"Me? Me! I can't believe it. But I must."

Eat your heart out, Clark Gable.

Now, to do her justice, my mother was hostile and poison-tongued, and I greatly doubt she meant to set me up for the Bebere effect. But she did.

nappy40 said...

A relative told me, "you're not that ugly.

Be said...

Nappy: Geez-us. Not that ugly. That's damning with faint insult, now, isn't it. Different standards of beauty, I'm willing to bet. My mom's side of the family are very short, fine-boned, dark. My father's side are tall, stocky, fair. I inherited my dad's side's looks. Since it was a very acrimonious divorce, I think I reminded my mother of my dad's family too much. That's how I got labelled ugly.

Simon: Weird, isn't it? My second year of college, I was pursued by a veritable Greek God - his attentions for me scared me so much I left the country. I was so invested in my almost gnostic separation of mind and body that I couldn't understand someone finding me attractive and wanting to act on it. Ran into him years later (Boston's very very small - especially the circles I run in) and he was very upset at me. I felt really badly.

nappy40 said...

People are cruel. Those unusual features became exotic as I got older. I went away and didn't see some of those fools for about 20yrs. When I went back, all of a sudden I'm pretty. I just had to laugh. That was the inspiration for my blog post on the subject.

Nick said...

Or my favorite...

"You were such a cute kid. What happened to you?"

Be said...


Revisionism or changing aesthetics? (am trying to figure that out for me, too)

Be said...

The Bebere Effect. I kind of like that. It sounds kind of Robert Ludlum-like.