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I’m Not Beautiful. And That’s Fine by Me.

April 12, 2013

Two weeks ago, I got my hair trimmed, layered in the front, and blow-dried in such a way that it actually looked pretty good. I know it must have looked all right, because my grandmother, with whom I was dining that night, said, “Oh, my! Don’t you look beautiful!”

I tried unsuccessfully to brush wispy bangs out of my eye and replied with a grimace, “Take it in while you can, Grandma, because this is the last time it’s going to look this good until the next time I have to get it trimmed.”

Still, the next time I saw her, she exclaimed in disappointment, “What happened to your bangs? They looked so nice!”

I shrugged. “I went with the wash-and-wait-for-Denver’s-dry-climate-to-air-dry-it look, Grandma. And besides, they were getting in my eyes. I like ’em a lot better pulled back with the rest of this mop.”

Alas for my grandmother, who would really love to see me try a “fun” and “sassy” hairstyle with some highlights, I’ve never considered salon days and their results to be particularly therapeutic. Make it look healthy, make sure it’s cut in such a way that I don’t have to cut into sleeping hours with a hair dryer and round brush in the morning, and make sure it won’t look too awful after a day under a ski helmet, and I’ll happily be on my way.

The same goes for “retail therapy.” Shopping for clothes or, worse still, shoes is a sure way to induce a mental breakdown in me. The only way I finally convinced myself to replace my holed-out jeans was to get my dad to agree to go to the mall with me when he was last in town. As he put it, “Well, maybe we can shore up and be each other’s moral support through the shopping trip.” The fact that he didn’t seem to mind buying my new jeans helped lessen my pain.

I also don’t wear silken undergarments, wear makeup except for a bit of mascara on days I’m meeting with writing clients, shuck my eight-inch-thick glasses for contacts when I’m not wearing ski goggles, or shave anywhere. Forget waxing. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason why the gunk gets plucked off candleholders and discarded.

Maybe there is some truth to Helena Rubinstein‘s saying, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” With minimal effort–putting on some of that mascara, wearing those contacts, putting on a dress–I can have a queue of guys waiting to hit on me at a bar or club and an equally long queue of women sneering at me, calling me various assorted epithets under their breath.

But perhaps one of the nicest things about reaching the ripe ol’ age of 27 is that I have exactly zero fucks to give what people think about my appearance. I have enough social awareness to know that it’s a good idea to shower at least once a day and probably not wear my jeans with the giant holes in the crotch (or at least cross my legs in a manner befitting a lady if I do run out of other pants to wear), but as long as I’m not violating nudity laws or dressing in a manner totally out of sync with Colorado’s admittedly bipolar weather, I’m not particularly interested in what other people on the sidewalk think. As long as I can walk down the street without my toes declaring civil war on each other in a tight but “cute” pair of shoes and without feeling Saran-wrapped into skintight clothing, I’m content.

Although I do accept compliments on my beautiful drawings...

It should go without saying that I don’t feel the need for anything but my personality to sparkle, either.

In fact, I’m inclined to think it’s nicer not to attract too much attention. Honestly, the only area where I want to be noticed and commented on is on the slopes. Hearing, “Those turns look beautiful!” or “You look great out there!” in regards to skiing the bumps makes my day. Skiing moguls, after all, is a skill I have spent years refining, and since it’s one that not everyone can master, hearing affirmation that my time has paid off makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

But beauty is so subjective and, with enough money, so easy to achieve that I don’t particularly care to be complimented on my appearance. Some guy tells me, “You look great in that dress”? I’m probably going to dismiss him as a horny creeper, even if he meant the comment sincerely. The same guy catches up to me on the slopes and says, “You were poetry in motion on that double-black diamond run”? I might chuckle at his cheesiness, but he’s got a better chance of getting me to have a drink with him during apres-ski specials.

None of which is in any way reassuring to my grandmother, I am sure. Especially if I go with the plan I cook up every time I go into my hairstylist’s and finally show up for our weekly dinner with a one-inch buzz cut and blue streaks in my hair and an exclamation of, “But Grandma, you said I should get highlights!”

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396 Comments
  1. Arashi permalink

    For me, a woman must do what she wants. if she wants to spend an hour with the blow drier, another 20 minutes on make-up, kudos! If not, kudos too!

    Also, jealous of your skiing ability. Last year, at the ripe age of 29 and 11 months, I tried to learn how to ski and failed miserably (I even bought the ridiculous photograph of me failing miserably for the laughs). On ther other hand, I found snowboarding rather easy.

    • You’re going to have to teach me to snowboard, then! The last time I tried that one, I wound up with a lovely scar on my wrist from where I needed to have bone-setting surgery. Easy enough to learn if you already know how to ski, my ass (which I also wound up landing on more often than not).

      And I agree: to each her own. Thanks for reading!

  2. I LOVED THIS! I am currently in college and my give a fuck has LONG been gone! I have a 4 year old little boy and the most I do in the mornings is take a shower, locate clean clothes, walk out the door! I always see sorority girls and they look at me like, “holy cow, you could fix yourself up a bit.” I know however that they have no idea about what my day consists of and wasting time to “doll up” is not on the daily list. I do occasionally fix up, only when we are going out somewhere nice, which is hardly ever! LOL. My mother is the type to always fix herself up. Every morning she takes an hour in the bathroom, lotion, makeup, hair, and spruce the toe nail paint. She always says, “Oh Whitney, you would look so pretty if you let your hair down.” My hair does not to define who I am, regardless of what commercials say. What is the most infuriating commercial for you, minus the razor commercials.

    • The “You would look so pretty if…” comments are aggravating beyond belief. At least those sorority girls will get a clue when they have families and/or other adult responsibilities of their own, but I know all too well how difficult it is to persuade (grand)mothers of an absolute lack of fucks to give!

      Those hair and razor commercials are pretty awful. I think the most recent ad to irk me of late was a radio commercial for a laser-hair removal center somewhere in the mountains that included the line, “Ladies, you’ll never have to worry about shaving or waxing again.” Why don’t guys EVER have to worry about shaving or waxing? I wanted to scream at the speakers. Sadly, I was in a restaurant I frequent when I’m up skiing that I didn’t want to get banned from, so I had to keep my resentment to myself.

  3. ZERO FUCKS! Ha! I love it!!!!

  4. This is awesome! I’m currently in a state of total “I can relate” over here. Parents want you to look a certain way, your job wants you to present yourself in a certain way, and the people around you always want to have a say in it as well. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you look like, it’s all about what you’re giving back to this world while you’re here. And I think you’re using your time here wisely. Thank you for this, it was refreshing to read!

    • Thank you! I’m totally with you on giving back whatever it is you may have, whether it’s simply by talking or writing. I get adhering to a dress and appearance code for a job as long as the expectations aren’t degrading or unrealistic, but why does the rest of the world feel it should have a say in people’s appearances?

  5. This is pretty damn great because it’s so hard to find women who love themselves and are fully content with what they have got these days. πŸ™‚ You are an inspiration!

    • Thank you! I’m hoping to start the “be fully content with yourself” revolution over here! πŸ™‚

      • Ahaha. xD Good luck with that! I’m also thinking about writing about people and their insecurities.

        Anyways, I’m new, and I wrote something. Could you please check it out? (I’m sorry for being “that annoying person” here)
        http://meetmetasnim.wordpress.com/

      • You should totally write about people and their insecurities…even with all the self-confidence I’ve gained in regards to my appearance, I’m still a morass of issues that probably need to be addressed by a mental-health professional.

        Your blog has a great message. Keep writing!

      • Thank you! πŸ™‚

  6. Of course I like your post!
    I hardly believe you’re 27 , because your brain/mind looks very” ancient”…!
    You’re adorable , Lol.

    • Haha, in some ways, I can’t wait to be old enough to sit in a rocker on my porch, surrounded by my hundreds of cats, shouting, “YEEEEEEWWWW KIDS GET OFF MAH LAWN!!!” Hopefully the white hair and hunched shoulders will still allow me to claim the adorable title!

  7. I am trying to be less concerned with my appearance. It has always been a struggle for me. Thanks for your post, it’s very helpful!!

    • Thank you for reading! I do understand how much of a struggle the process can be…it took me years to get to this point. Best of luck!

  8. My sentiments exactly πŸ™‚

  9. Obviously not in line with the point you’re making, and it is a very good point, and very well written, but being amongst those who do benefit from therapy (shopping) and enjoy the hair salon I have to tell you: If your hairdresser can’t give you a wash-and-go style that can easily be styled should you feel like it, you need another hairdresser.

    And when it comes to complimenting looks: It’s nice getting compliments once in a while, especially when you’ve made an effort, but the ones that stick with me are indeed those regarding my skills as a sales assistant, student and volleyballplayer.

    • The style I have actually does serve me well on an ordinary day, but my stylist, being good at her job, made me look better than I would have if left to my own devices. :p

      As an introvert and the girl who perpetually got picked last to play team sports, I’m impressed by your skills!

      • Ah. They tend to do that. Reminds me a bit of a story a friend likes to tell about how her mother would dress her up in cute dresses, and she’d get ’em all smeared in dirt. They’ve got a picture of her as a child wearing a dress grimed and stained with motor oil or summat like it, tinkering on a car. Obviously, she and her mother had very differing priorties.

        Why thank you. I know all too well what it means to be picked last, so I’ve worked hard to become the girl picked third to last instead :p

        I’m sure, though, as one of the few Norwegians born with high heels rather than skis on my feet, I’m positive neither myself nor my closest friends could hold a candle to you in the slopes. The heels would only get stuck in the snow.

  10. Miss Molly permalink

    “Ripe old age of 27”???? After fighting the “appearance” wars I decided that form and functionality were much more important. I wear my hair one length and long, because for some of the reasons you mentioned, I can come off the mountain, the bike or trail and pull off my headgear and look reasonably good. Thick glasses and all… no makeup.

    No retail therapy for me either… shopping is horrible and I am DONE after about 15 minutes at the mall.

    I even changed my career to accommodate my “fashion” preferences… hiking boots and sweatshirts. So much more comfortable! Getting out of those heals and suits didn’t change my ability to do my job.

    Yeah for us!!! and we are ready to go in no time at all!

    • Go team!!! I’m stumped as to how heels and suits would positively affect my ability to do my job. A comfortable employee is likely a more productive one, I would think!

      Hiking boots and sweatshirts are often my work uniform, too. Hell, I even wore hiking boots to work when I was a community college instructor, since the frequency of snowstorms out here made me liable to slip and fall in anything with less tread.

      And yes, I know 27 isn’t old. But man, I feel like I’ve aged and wised up more than the six years that have passed since I was a fresh-faced college grad!

  11. I might not agree with you on some of your points but I totally admire people who dare to be different. Nice post.

  12. I like that you have this sort of mentality. I think more people should stop worrying about their apperance and just take life for what it is. I personally think that it is more important to be beautiful on the inside rather than the outside. Nice post!

  13. This is amazing. i completely agree with your sentiment that looking good is much less important than having a great personality and being a good person. kudos to you

  14. A very interesting read. You are quite correct to say that beauty if subjective. And you are also quite correct in that limiting the analysis of beauty to one’s appearance as opposed to one’s talents, is a problem.

    I don’t ski, but I’m a musician, and I’d much rather get a compliment on a well-crafted song I’ve written than have someone like my hair or eyes or lips. Well… maybe lips because that probably means they want me ha ha.

    Great post!

    • A compliment on any original piece of work or good rendition of an existing piece is great in my book, too. I write some songs myself and have been taking voice lessons for nearly five years, so I’m much more likely to sit and chat with the guy who’s commenting on my performance of “You Oughta Know” in the karaoke bar than the guy commenting on my lips, although that might be strictly because kissing gives me the willies.

      • πŸ™‚ Someone once said that listening to playing me guitar was better than sex. That was quite the compliment. I’d love to take voice lessons as I’m not the strongest singer (but neither was Neil Young or Bob Dylan ha ha) …. that’s interesting that kissing gives you the willies!

      • Hugging and kissing both! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I will do funny dances to avoid both of the above.

        I’ll tell you what, you teach me how to play a few chords on the guitar, and I’ll tell you everything I know about singing. Or you can just be in my band, and we can both be told that our music is better than sex! Although there is always the Bob Dylan route…

  15. Strategy for reducing shopping hell even further: identify a make and style of jeans that fits, is comfy, suits your build. Note the exact details of the ones you have. Search for them on Ebay. Repeat. I have about 4 pairs of my particular favourite at any one time, in various degrees of worn-ness (I’m a cyclist so I go through jeans quickly!). You need never enter a store again…

    • I usually make sure to have four pairs on hand, although I really need to start checking eBay! I do have an issue with my torso being significantly longer, proportion-wise, than my legs, which means I usually need to get a few inches hemmed off new jeans. The joys of manufactured clothing.

  16. refreshing in the sea of beaty tip posts. nice post.

    • Thank you! It would be nice to see a women’s mag run an article about chucking the razors and finding cargo pants with the biggest pockets.

      • Or on pants that dry the fastest and show the least amount of stains. I could get behind that.

      • I would buy those pants and credit the magazine for the sale. Even better if they do have nice pockets…as you can tell, I have an obsession with pockets. :/

  17. Shopping trip: When patience runs out and you wish you would too. Funny post !

  18. “I’m inclined to think it’s nicer not to attract too much attention.”
    I too share the same thought – as far as concerned with the appearance part.
    But yes, I love to be in limelight for the good work done!
    Beautiful post!

  19. naomilyrah permalink

    amazing article πŸ™‚

  20. Ethalina permalink

    Hooray for cargo pants with multiple pockets!
    Interestingly, I came here after googling, “Is it okay for me to be this beautiful?” Just checking, you know.

    I share many of your views. I don’t mind people telling me I’m pretty, in fact, it’s a nice change from my mom telling me I look hobo-like. I just can’t be bothered with dressing up (again, mom, I’m just driving you back from school, what’s wrong with wearing batik?) and even though I like shopping and clothes, I find fashion and dressing up to be a luxury that I as a student cannot afford. I’ve been considering rebonding my hair just to get it untangled and keep people off my back for not brushing it (okay, maybe my mom has a point about being hobo-like), but I don’t know if I should even consider it since I don’t earn my own money. I guess I won’t do it, unless my mom harps on my hair the next time I go home for the holidays. At least not using my mom’s money. So yeah, I’ll just stick to playing online dress-up games (I’ll still take that money though, mom =] )

    That being said, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with wanting to look pretty. If you can afford it, you like making the effort, and you’re not doing it to please anybody, go for it!
    I’ll stick to my sarong and flip-flops

  21. Great beauty is a gift that few realize..until you age. Remember that.

  22. Reblogged this on I write for my girlfriend and commented:
    Well, enjoy the ride :^D folks !!

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