Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On "Beauty"

Do you want to know why I'm constantly making a ruckus about being different than everyone else? Why I'm always talking about how weird I am, or pointing out things that make me strange? Why I'm always posting dorky pics to my facebook albums, and writing random statuses all the time?

No, I am not a hipster.

The answer is: because I'm not pretty.

Don't even give me that look. You don't think I am either. If you did, y'all wouldn't be constantly pleading with me to let you give me make-overs and haircuts and take me shopping.

I know, I know, you mean well. I don't take offense at that. But the message is still the same. "Maybe if I take my make up brush to her, she'll be presentable." "Maybe if I teach her how to pick out clothes, boys will actually ask her on dates, for a change."

Basically, I'm not good enough as I am.

I stopped saying yes to people, because it actually made me feel worse. I looked at myself with all the make up and fancy hair, and I hated it. Not because I wasn't marginally more pretty, but because I was trying so hard to fake it. Trying so hard to be like everyone else, despite the fact that I am not. And even after enormous amounts of work, I still didn't quite cut it. So then I was both not-pretty AND not-even-myself.

That don't feel too good.

But back to the matter at hand. How does "because I'm not pretty" answer the above questions? Well, if I thought I was beautiful, I'd live it up. I'd tout it in all my pics, because despite my inherently shy nature, I don't like to go unnoticed nearly as much as I pretend I do.

But I'm not. So I have to tout everything else I've got, to make up for it.

This isn't a problem for me. I actually have rather a large ego. I can do more toe-push-ups than any other girl I currently know. I can type about 70 wpm, when I get going. I can eat a 16" pizza in one sitting by myself (although I only discovered that accidentally.) I know how to draw and hold a samurai sword. I can write stories. I can put together 3D puzzles without even breaking a sweat.

I can ROCK Harry Potter Scene-it. I'm really good at sock puppets. I can teach sunday school lessons well. I can rock it at Duck Hunt also. The first time I ever even held a gun, I shot better than half of the experienced people out there with me. Same with a crossbow. Hit pretty close to the center on the first ever shot I took. I own and have read more books than a lot of people I know. I can quote movies like nobody's business.

15" Harry Potter Wand - White Oak Color - Custom Order for liapompeu (DO NOT BUY)
I once ran a 100 meter dash in 14 seconds, which is wicked fast for a piddly little high schooler. I still hold the school record for the Shot Put. 35'11". I made it to the state championships, and placed 6th in the entire state of Virginia with that throw. I own 7 lightsabers. I make Harry Potter wands, and I'm actually good at it.

I can draw amusing cartoons. I have finished NANO 3 times (in 3 years). Only my mother can really beat me at Hanging with Friends, and she has to fight for it. I can cook the best pork roast ever. Also my mashed potatoes are nothing to sneeze at. I'm good at remembering random things like what someone's favorite candybar is, or what day their birthday is on.

I'm pretty good at babysitting small children. In fact, I have pretty good taste in knowing what sort of stuff a kid would like in a picture book. I know how to get the best hugs from a 2-year-old. (Hint, it may or may not have something to do with hot wheels. ;)  ) I can rock a kid to sleep even if he isn't used to strangers. I am good at crashing hot wheels. And safely tossing kids through the air. And tutoring them in school stuff.

Ok, ok, I'm feeling kind of weird at tooting my own horn so enthusiastically. But the point is, I have a great deal of value, and I know it. I'm proud of my accomplishments, and I'm not worried that I'm worthless. I know I'm not. I know that there's more inside of me than half of the brainless ditzes who infest the world.

But if I know that it's what's inside that counts, and you know that I know it's what's inside that counts, why am I throwing a royal tantrum about beauty, and my lack thereof?
The problem with society is that we say "It's inner beauty that counts" an awful lot. We tell people to believe it, and we make memes about it that go viral. We quote famous people like Eleanor Roosevelt on the matter. We rub it into people's faces until they scream uncle.

Our society is truly convinced that we believe this mantra.

But then, we still advertise liposuction, and stress the importance of the right clothes brands, and make fun of people who aren't hot, and fill the library with thousands of diet books, and make sentimental dove videos about how people are prettier than they think they are, and send 5,000 facebook comments on someone's picture about how pretty they are, and gossip about so-and-so's horrid hair, and wolf whistle at hotties walking down the sidewalk, and put pin-ups of muscled men on the wall, and talk all the time about losing weight for the swim suit season...

Well, some people don't get the millions of beauty comments on facebook. And some people don't get whistled at (degrading or not). And we notice.

Oh, we notice.

See, I know that it's inner beauty that matters. I get it. And I feel like I'm worth plenty, without physical attractiveness.

But I don't know that you know it.

No matter how much I might believe that statement, I honestly don't believe that anyone else does. I can believe all I want that I'm worth taking a chance on, but I still don't get the dates. I can try my best to look nice, but I'm still not as pretty as the next girl over, and I still get overlooked.

Because let's be honest, who's gonna take the time to get to know all the cool stuff I can do unless they notice me first? And who's gonna notice the "bigger girl that teaches the cool lessons"? Who's gonna bother trying to discover the inner beauty of the "plain one who works at the library"?

Yeah, physical beauty shouldn't matter as much as it does. But that doesn't change the fact that it does. I'm still not the pretty one, and I still don't get noticed.

That's why I put so much on facebook. I tell the world every cool thing that I do. I write funny stuff. I take fun pictures. I have discussions about things both serious and ridiculous. I do the same thing in real life. I take as much of my inner self as I can, and put it out there for people to see.

Now to figure out a way to make them see it.


Wow. Disney just proved my point with such perfection that I am left speechless.

Look at what they've done, here, and tell me that our society really believes all that clap trap about inner beauty.

For me, this isn't about it being not the original design. It isn't about whether I like the look of the new one or not. It isn't even about her wearing the dress that she hated so much in the movie. (Although admittedly I really love the celtic knots on the bottom of it. I'm sorry, but I really just have this thing for celtic knots.)

In fact, as a friend pointed out, it hardly even looks different at all. And I found her to be very pretty beforehand anyway. 

The point, then, is what the subtle differences are. Because her previous beauty wasn't the classical kind. The supermodel kind that is literally impossible for normal humans to achieve without airbrushing. 

They gave her a thinner waist.  Her eyes are all... sultry. Her hair is no longer unruly, but luscious and perfect as it blows seductively in the breeze. They gave her a full on make up and eyebrow job. They took away her bow. They gave her lips some sort of botox injection.

But here is the most subtle one of all. If you look closely, you can see that she doesn't confidently stand tall and proud anymore. She doesn't throw out her chest with that scottish energy that we loved her movie for. Her new version shrinks, ever so slightly. And that makes an enormous difference in the way we see her. 

These changes, taken one at a time, don't matter. Individually they are pretty petty. But together, they emphasize exactly one thing: 

It doesn't matter how great she was at anything. Without becoming a supermodel, she is nothing. 

In in the world today, that is sadly far too true. 

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