10.11.2011

Beautiful People For No Reason

I've been unemployed for exactly a week now. So far, I have nothing to complain about. I'm sure that there will come a time when I am missing the paycheck and get bored at home all day--though the latter will take much longer than the former. But for right now? I'm just loving the ability to sleep in and do lunch with friends and relax a little. Like the vacation I so badly needed and never could have asked for.

Since I have been watching copious amounts of television while I've been home, I've been thinking quite a bit about beauty. I could go on a whole post about fallacies in advertising and how our TVs are always trying to sell us something (both in the commercials and in the programming) and how (regardless of the actual product being shilled) the object can usually be boiled down to just a couple elements: beauty, sex, wealth, power, success, etc. Those topics are all true and worthy to talk about. I could also go into the cultural standard of beauty and how television has made it impossible for ordinary women to feel good about themselves. But really, I'm going to go much simpler than that.

I just wonder what it's like to be beautiful. Now, before you take off your party hats and try to exit the pity party without notice, just stop for a moment. I'm not complaining about my looks. I'm not trying to get you to compliment me and tell me I'm beautiful (which would be quite a trick, since none of you have seen my face). I'm not saying I'm ugly. I have symmetrical features and clear skin, so it's not like I'm hideous or deformed or something. I'm just ordinary. I have parts of my face and body that I hate with a passion (if I were rich and didn't mind pain, I just might cut off my nose to spite my face... or at least to get a nose) and I also have parts of my face and my body that I think are pretty good. So this is not self-aggrandizement. This is more of a wonderment-thing. And if any of you get that obscure reference, you can be my new best friend.

So. Where was I before my preemptive rant? Oh. Yes. Beauty. So I've been watching a lot of television and we can all agree that most people on television are beautiful. Even those women who are playing the dowdy/nerdy/shy/whatever role that requires us to believe that they cannot get a date or have any friends or get a job (because our faces MATTER!SO!MUCH!), but really all they have to do is take off their glasses and let their hair down and suddenly they're Heidi Freaking Klum. Even the "ugly" girls are actually beautiful! And this has gotten me to thinking. What would it be like to be beautiful?

To be movie star quality beautiful (whether or not you actually are a movie star). To be so stunning as to have people actually stop what they are doing just to take in how gorgeous you are. To turn heads just walking down the street. To have romantic attention from practically anyone in a ten foot radius. I wonder what that would be like. Even though the movies have taught us to believe that it's so hard to be beautiful and people never leave them alone and no one loves them just for who they are on the inside. I still wonder if it's really that difficult. Because the movies have also taught us that it's the beautiful girls who get the guy and the high-paying job and have the best parties and own the fanciest clothing, etc. (You can see how I might be confused) Plus, there's a kind of power in beauty like that. To use just your face and hair (and maybe your body) to influence people. You don't even have to speak and people respond.

I wonder about actresses especially. Do they know they're beautiful? Probably, since they've sought a life in the spotlight. Were they always beautiful or did they kind of grow into gorgeosity (yes, that is not a real word... sue me)? And how does that affect how they view themselves? Do they only see their own flaws? I imagine Hollywood can do that to some people. But do a lot of them look in the mirror and leave satisfied or even happy with what they saw? What would that be like?

[I feel like I need to reassert that I'm not looking for a pity party. This should be read in a slightly wistful, but mostly "scientifically" interested tone, not in a I-WANNA-BE-BEAUTIFUL-SO-PEOPLE-WILL-LOVE-ME kind of way. Just to reestablish that...]

I'm not saying I hate what I see in the mirror--this face belongs to me and I would be hurt if anyone else insulted it, so I should refrain from that, too. But there are more days than not where I kind of shrug at my reflection and think "this is the best it's going to get today." But for these women (even non-famous beautiful women), they actually enjoy spending time in front of the mirror? That's just kind outside my realm of thinking. 

And maybe they don't. Maybe they feel just as average as everyone else. But I find that hard to believe. Because if you spend your whole life with people telling you that you're beautiful and with people treating you like you're beautiful, doesn't that sink in and become part of who you are? And if that's true, how does that feel? How does that dictate your actions? How you interact with other people? How you go about shopping? 

This post is going nowhere. Just in case you were wondering what my conclusion was going to be. I have none. I'm really just wondering. And I don't know that anyone can answer this for me. I think it has to be experienced, especially from a young age. So, I'm pretty confident that I will never know. And I'm not sad about that, either. I'm not wishing for a different face (much...), but it's something that's been on my mind for a few days and what better place to purge it than on my blog? So these are truly some random musings. Feel free to muse about random things (beauty related or otherwise) in the comments.

And I guess you could apply this same type of questioning to any trait. For some one of average intelligence, the questions might be about geniuses. Do they realize their brains work ten times faster than most? What must that feel like? Or about wealth: What would it be like to be able to have anything you wanted, no waiting or saving, just go out and buy it? And I suppose people can attain beauty the same as they attain wealth, through plastic surgery and other cosmetic means. But I'm not sure that's the same thing I'm asking about. Because we can often tell the fakers from the natural beauties and it usually matters to us... Again, going no where.

So to recap: I'm unemployed, I watch too much TV, I wonder about beautiful people, and I have no point. How's your week going so far?

7 comments:

  1. this is fascinating. I suspect but do not know for sure that a lot of beauty is subjective. (and I am both 37, so have had a lot of time to ponder such questions, and vain, so this is important to me for a bunch of non-good reasons.) That is to say, once the standard of beauty is distilled down to symmetrical features, good hair, relative youth, and a body type within one standard deviation of "ideal", a lot of it is just icing -- that is, makeup, airbrushing, etc. (I think Cindy Crawford once said, "even I do not get up in the morning looking like Cindy Crawford".) (yikes, now i have really dated myself.) I doubt the average starlet is that much more beautiful than the average young lady -- just think how dolled up a woman gets for her wedding, and that is the amount of time put into the average actress' appearance by the time you see her.

    Something I think is interesting is the number of people who insist that sarah jessica parker looks "like a horse"... all because (i am guessing) she kept her original nose. i am glad i am not in the public sphere -- yikes.

    I dont know what my point is that i am trying to make -- except that so much of it is smoke and mirrors. and we are all beautiful. kumbaya.

    p.s. enjoy the free time. i remember getting laid off and spending 5 months on unemployment while i waited for grad school to start. i am ashamed to say how i enjoyed those five months...

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  2. Renee from GA10/12/11, 10:03 AM

    I'm a visitor from TJ's - Hi! (waves) I've never met a woman who was completely at peace with what she saw in the mirror. Add airbrushing to skilled makeup artistry, and I'm not sure we have ever seen what any model or actress really looks like anyway (which makes their existence as professional standards for beauty even more crazy-making). While it does open some doors, the kind of beauty you are wondering about seems to come with its own price and pressures.

    Lastly, was it Ross who had a general wonderment-thing, with some kind of accompanying hand gesture?

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  3. Renee from GA10/12/11, 10:28 AM

    PS You asked how it feels to be beautiful, and I am pretty average. But those I know who are beautiful were often insecure. It's like they are continually aware of comparisons (there's always someone more beautiful) and how fleeting looks can be.

    The all-her-life pageant winner/homecoming queen in my college had a bubbly persona she would wear with the makeup and outfits, but rather than her looks giving her confidence, when she was "off" she seemed to have a hard time looking people in the face. The more I got to know her the less I envied her.

    Not to Jesus Juke the conversation (http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2010/11/the-jesus-juke) but I can't help but think of the verse that talks about "imperishable beauty". It's so hard to value qualities that last but are unseen.

    And I'll end my lecture by quoting Rebecca: "smoke and mirrors. we are all beautiful. kumbaya" :)

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  4. I get what you're saying and have thought and wondered the same things. Someone once pointed out to me that the "beautiful people" of the world are actually abnormal, freaks even. The rest of us are the norm. Although....when I look around at all the children I know, it seems to me that we are getting prettier with each generation. Now there's another blog post right there!

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  5. Ok, I wondered this too, then I joined the cast at a renaissance festival. I went from being the too-tall-too-pudgy girl everywhere else in the world, to suddenly being the hottest thing since sliced bread out at Faire. Not to pat my own back or anything (though I am flexible enough to do so), but it was such a strange sensation, to be told, repeatedly--and sincerely--that I was petty or beautiful by men, not little old ladies. And men with no agenda either. I wasn't being hit on (most of the time), just complimented. It was very weird at first, but it gave me a lot more confidence out in the rest of the world.

    So, either join a Ren Faire cast as a weekender, or come to Texas in the spring, and I'll take you to my Faire.

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  6. I am conceited, and that's no surprise. However, I still sometimes get a bit surprised when I have strangers gawk at me, cat call me, or have my friends (and by friends I mean more like acquaintances whom I see at the bar all the time) say that I'm pretty. Especially because my fiance rarely tells me I'm beautiful (and I prefer it that way. It makes the times he says I am all the more special). But because of the aforementioned points, I believe I am qualified to tell you how it is to be beautiful.

    It is stupid. People assume because you are beautiful that you are dumb. I am intelligent, and would like an intelligent conversation. Don't try to talk to me about my outfit, because there's a good chance I bought it at walmart, JCPenny or goodwill. I just know what to wear for my body type. I don't spend a ton of money on my clothes.

    And no, batting the eyelashes doesn't actually work in real life. It doesn't get you discounts or get you out of trouble. In fact, I think people assume pretty people expect to be given more lenience, so they don't get any.

    I don't spend hardly any time in front of the mirror. I wear mascara about 13% of the time, and that's about all I wear. carmex on my lips is about as fancy as I get.

    And since I take so much pride in being average, I don't like to think that I'm so gorgeous that I have multiple men waiting until the day I turn single. I tend to just roll my eyes at it. I think that confidence plays a big role in beauty. If you think you are beautiful, then you radiate beauty. :)

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  7. I used to be beautiful, some years ago i had a really nice body and i've always had a cute face. My best friend was also very pretty. with a smoking hot body so naturally we got a lot of male attention. Because i was (and still am) a bit anti-social having men that i never seen before in my life coming to flirt with me was quite wierd, and eventually got very boring. Sometimes i just wanted to hang out with some friends without beeing harrased. My friend always loved it tho, and eventually it drove us appart because i felt like she only cared about beeing seen and if she walked in somewhere and not all men noticed her she got really depressed. I thought that was very shallow of her and i grew tired of it.
    I eventually gained some weight. so nowadays im what you can call chubby, but my face it's still cute, im happier than i ever was while i was thin and since im not "hot" anymore i dont attract the attention of idiots that are just after sex with some hottie. So i guess some people can handle beeing pretty better than other :P

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