A Thing of Beauty
One of the downside of having beautiful-looking parents is unless you’re more beautiful than them, you’re going to look bad. Doesn’t matter if you consider yourself of average or above-average look; it is as if people apply a different beauty standard when judging children of gorgeous-looking parents (Shiloh and whatever-your-names-twins of the Pitt-Jolie clan, here are two words for you: good luck).
Well, it just so happens that I have beautiful-looking parents. Uh huh, good life. Unfortunately, in my case, their combined genes failed to produce a spectacular outcome. I’d like to blame it on the incompatibility of their genes. My parents’ divorce when I was three years-old seemed to confirm my theory. I just wished they had realized it earlier; I could have been waaaay better looking (I hate to think about the other possibility).
Sooo... ever since I was little, I was used to hearing people talked about how good-looking my parents were. And, how “not-as-good-looking as my parents” I was. You wouldn’t believe how many times I heard people say, “How was it possible for Frank and May* to have a child who looked like that?” or “You don’t look anything like your mother or father.” Ouch.
I took it all in stride though. I was proud to have gorgeous parents (No offense, but not many of my friends could say the same). Besides, my parents had told me a number of times that I was smart. That was good enough for me.
Then I hit puberty and all the shit hit the fan.
Already going ape with all those hormones, the comments I heard when I was little came back with a vengeance. They wreaked havoc on my conscience. Needless to say, I had a self-image crisis meltdown.
To begin with, my parents weren’t big on compliments. The few that had ever come out of their mouths were always academic-related. Yes, I aced all of my school subjects, was the President of the Student Council, won many awards and tons of achievement certificates... basically Nerd of the Year.
But I was also a girl. A teenage girl. Suddenly, being told I was ‘smart’ didn’t sound so appealing anymore. I wanted to be called ‘beautiful.’ Problem was, nobody had ever called me that. ‘Smart,’ ‘Dedicated,’ ‘Hard-Working,’ yes. ‘Beautiful’? Never.
It wasn’t that I was hideous-looking or anything. I knew I wasn’t ugly. I probably looked just like every normal non-Gothic teenagers out there. But I knew wasn’t beautiful either. I’m sure the desire to be seen as a thing of beauty was not unique only to me (cue in the amount of time teenage girls spent primping themselves). In my case though, the issue was one that hit very close to home. I didn’t have to go far to confirm I wasn’t beautiful. All I needed to do was looked at my parents.
Now that I’m older, I no longer felt bothered by the comparisons to my parents. Being an adult with accomplishments and a family of my own weighs more heavily on how I define myself today then the connection to my parents. However, the need to be desired, to be seen as ‘beautiful’, has never really gone away. It doesn’t help that the society where we live in place so much importance on ‘looks’ and physical appearance. And I believe it is even more so for women than for men.
I’ve noticed that for many men, their self-worth and definition of success tend to be largely related to what they’ve accomplished in their career or how much money they’ve made. For women, it’s far more complicated than that. The feminist movement and fights for gender equality have made it possible for women to pursue new heights in their career and earning capacity. Women are praised for their leadership qualities, influence, and various contributions. But dig deeper, and you’d find that despite all those things, there is still the longing to be perceived as desirable.
Soo... have I made peace with the fact that I was never going to be as beautiful as my parents? Absolutely. Have I made peace with how I look? Well, I could benefit from losing a few several pounds... and of course the fact that my husband no longer loves me isn't helping boost my confidence, but yes, I’m okay with how I look. But am I going to stop worrying about how I look? Hell no! At my age now, I’ve got this thing called ‘aging’ to worry about.
And please, don’t give me that crap about aging ‘gracefully.’