December 06, 2005

On Beauty

Iím a horrible person. Tonight, my mother was scrambling to get my brother out the door for his band concert when she turned to me and said, ďYouíll go, Jess, wonít you? I donít know how to work the camera.Ē And rather than supporting my brother and helping my mom, all I could think about was how badly I didnít want to go because I didnít want to see anyone from my high school. For one thing, I didnít have any makeup on.

But I went, and grumpily stepped into the sports arena where I once played basketball. Everything was the same: the ďwarriorsĒ mural, the noisy plastic seats, the warehouse smell. Only a few of the same people, but plenty of the same types: The Carhartt jackets, the diminutive moms in Christmas sweaters, the guy with residual 80s metal-band hair.

My job for the evening was to take pictures of my brother with the rest of the band court, the guys in their suits and the girls in their prom dresses. And as I snapped photos, I wished desperately, sickly, that I had been beautiful in high school.

I wouldnít even think so much about being beautiful now, though God knows I fight that fight every day, if I could just have some memory of being a beautiful teenage girl for any length of time at all.

But I wasnít. And Iím not trying to elicit sympathy --- my unbeauty had as much to do with presentation as with genetics. You could say I was sort of post-grunge, lots of loose-fitting clothes, almost never something that hadnít been given to me, and I had rather shoddy posture. No makeup. And I donít even want to talk about my hair.

It was a guy, of course. In eighth grade, I heard a ninth grader say something about me, something cruel. And I knew that even if I had once been a bright, smart, funny kid, I had failed to make the jump to being a pretty young lady. Somehow that one sentence stayed with me, and maybe part of me gave up on becoming a beautiful woman. Stupid guy. And stupid me.

Beauty is all about confidence, they say. Maybe Iíll yet achieve some sort of beauty with a little lipstick and bravado. Or maybe Iíll just forget it and say Iím going for that unassuming beauty thing. Either way, the task at hand is to figure out a way to resist the temptation to spend half my next paycheck on clothes. The taxes and fees for the car I bought in November totaled approximately seven million dollars, making for a very lean December in which I canít afford to assuage my insecurity with a trip to Express.

Hotness may or may not be nigh, and my teenage years are simply gone. And in those high school pictures of me, maybe thereís a girl whoís a little cute and a lot shy, but she certainly isnít enjoying four carefree years as a teen beauty queen. In any case, Iíve decided to cut her a break, not judge her so harshly. I canít get my prom back, but Iíll fight tooth and nail for my sanity.

And just for good measure, I shall be sure to wear makeup tomorrow.

Song of the day: ďIoĒ by Helen Stellar. Lyric sample: ďThis time around / you can be anything Ö you can be anyone / This time around.Ē

Posted by jessica at December 6, 2005 10:40 PM