“All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.”~Marilyn Monroe
This is a first, as I am publishing two posts on the same day. Sometimes, my thoughts and ideas are fragmented like pieces of my healing heart, and I have more to say than will fit into one post. So, consider this my version of a Saturday night double feature, or if you are more athletically inclined, you can view this as a double-header.
As I stated in one of my first posts, I never have been the “pretty girl”. I am the quintessential “funny girl” or the “go to” girl; I am not the girl who turns heads or stops traffic. I have very short hair with cowlicks, small eyes, a big nose, bruised and scarred thick legs, big feet, and a host of other obvious affronts to the definition of a classic American beauty. These are truths about myself that I am acutely aware of and accept, and it is a topic that I usually avoid discussing, as it makes me even more self-conscious and embarrassed. Despite knowing my shortcomings, for some reason, it hurts deeply when they are pointed out to me, as they recently were by both someone I don’t know and someone who knows me better than anyone.
At my age, I know that I am supposed to be more self-confident and self-assured and should not care what others, especially someone I do not know, think of me. I should be able to let such negative remarks go, but for some reason, the recent criticisms of my appearance stung and left a mark. Perhaps, being reminded that I am not the “pretty girl” triggers the painful memories of being judged so harshly by some of those closest to me for my invisible flaws, such as depression and anxiety, so, to have the obvious stated is particularly hard for me. It is one thing for me to know things about myself, it is another for others to know them and to share them, too. If I had the money, time, and the inclination, I could set about transforming myself physically to try to become more appealing, just like I had to transform myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through therapy, but I do not want to do so. I wish I were the “pretty girl”, but for many reasons, I will settle for being the “passably acceptable looking girl”.
The purpose of this post is not to elicit unwarranted compliments or reassurances about my physical appearance, but to draw attention to something I find absolutely maddening on a personal level and on a broader level. People give lip service to the notion that beauty goes beyond one’s physical looks and proclaim that one’s inner qualities matter most, yet on a daily basis, we close our eyes to the beauty around us in the people we encounter. We judge and dismiss those who do not fit our definition of beauty and give too much credence and attention to ugliness wrapped in a pretty package. You can use make up, clothes, and material possessions to disguise a mean spirit, ugly personality, and dark heart, but it is harder to get others to get to know you well enough to see your inner beauty when you are dismissed as unattractive. In addition to my recent experiences of being discounted for not being pretty, I witnessed something even more poignant yesterday that also was painful.
About three weeks ago, one of the men in our housing program died, due to health problems, and yesterday, it was time to clean out his apartment. His case manager and I could not move the heavier furniture by ourselves, so, we enlisted the help of three of the men in the day shelter for homeless men. While she drove the moving truck, the three guys rode with me in my SUV, and we received some inquisitive looks from other motorists and pedestrians who were in downtown Louisville. We were a rag-tag group indeed. As we drove, we engaged in some great conversations, and I always enjoy getting to know the guys on a more personal level and value hearing about their life experiences. So, by the time, we arrived at our destination, we were bonded in a new way.
When we entered the apt., the guys immediately set about moving the furniture and getting it ready to load onto the moving truck when it arrived, and I went into to clean out the items and food left in the kitchen. As I did so, I teared up thinking about the man who had died and reflected on our last conversations and memories of him. My trip down memory lane took a detour when one of the guys came in and was visibly upset, so, I stopped what I was doing and listened as he explained what happened.
When the guys were moving the belongings out of the apt., a next door neighbor stopped to ask them where the radio was that she said she had loaned to the deceased man, and when they said that they had not seen it, she implied that they must have taken it. The guy who was telling me the story said, “I am so so sick of people judging us because of how we look. She’s going to tell you we took it, and we didn’t. We’re just easy to blame.” What he was saying hurt my heart, but what hurt worse was the look in his eyes, as he was in pain, a pain I recognized all too well, as I have seen in it in myself and in others. It hurts to be accused of something you did not do and to be judged so quickly. I reassured him that I would handle the situation, and when I went outside, the neighbor immediately repeated her claim that she had loaned her radio to the man who died and insisted she had seen it on top of the microwave, and she insinuated that the guys, my guys, and stolen it. What she did not know is that I was the only one who had been in the kitchen, and there was nothing on top of the microwave and no radio in the apt. at all. I let her know in no uncertain terms that the radio was not there and that no-one present had taken it or anything else. She was angry and sulked away, and I turned around to see the guy whose feelings had been hurt standing in the doorway with a faint smile on his face. He thanked me for believing him and for standing up for them, and I told him that I never doubted for a second that they there innocent, which made him smile even more. I pity that woman for thinking their somewhat unkempt appearances made them thieves or easy marks to be falsely accused, for she missed out on three lovely souls who worked hard and who made a sad task better with their kindness, laughter, and banter. She may have looked better, but she was one not a better person than those three guys.
Everyone has different definitions of ‘beauty’, and everyone is attracted to people for a variety of reasons, one of them being a physical attraction. There is no right or wrong in these preferences, but it is a shame to apply one standard of beauty to all people and to be so easily fooled by the smoke and mirrors that people use to create a false beauty to hide their inner flaws. There is beauty in imperfection, and it is my hope that we all take more time to look beyond what our eyes see and to view people with our hearts and baby souls.
Just as the guy from the story has to deal with yesterday’s incident, I will deal with the incidents that hurt my feelings. I cannot change what others think about me or control what is said about me, and while I would love to be beautiful on the inside and outside, I will continue to champion my inner qualities that I think are beautiful indeed. Now, if only others could see that, and even more importantly, if only they could say what it is that they see. Who doesn’t like to hear that they are beautiful, loved, accepted, etc.? Even if you know these things to be true about yourself, it certainly is nice when someone you love notices your beauty and reminds you of it.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story