Wednesday, 11 April 2018

In the eye of the beholder!

I scanned the newspapers online and decided to avoid all the dire and terrible news stories - lying politicians, attacks on innocent children, increasing crime rates, and on and on - by looking at an article in the Guardian about the perils and hardships of being too beautiful. This led me via a link to another article on the New York Magazine’s lifestyle website, a section they call “The Cut”.

I normally only read this sort of thing in the hairdresser’s.

The introduction read as follows:

“Self/Reflection is a week of stories on the Cut about how we feel, versus how we look. Here, a woman in her late 50s tells Alexa Tsoulis-Reay how being beautiful affected her life, and how she feels about her looks today.”

The woman interviewed began: “Around eighth grade people started to tell me I was pretty. I was tall and willowy. I had a great figure and I never weighed more than 120 pounds throughout my 20s. I started modeling in high school and had waist length dark brown hair and brown eyes. When I do the whole makeup, eyelashes, high heels, gown look I am very intimidating.”

I have to confess that this put me off a little to begin with; she was just a little too full of herself for my liking.

Besides, who really wants to be intimidating?

She went on: “My looks definitely opened doors for me. I worked in PR and as a news producer, writer, reporter, and talk-show host. I did acting in daytime soaps, TV commercials, and theater. I never interviewed for a job I didn’t get. I had a good degree from a good college, sure, but I think all things being equal I’d get the job above other candidates because of the way I look.”

 By now I was wondering how people not blessed with good looks ever get jobs. And did she send a photograph along with her CV and letter of application to ensure and interview?

However, although she got the jobs, life did not always treat her well, especially in the field of relationships: “Throughout my life, competitive, attractive, wealthy, entitled women really hated me.”

Presumably lesser women, less competitive, wealthy and entitled, were simply ignored and did not come into the equation at all.

She gave details: “At my first job after college, my female colleagues conspired against me. They planted bottles of half-drunk booze on my desk so that it looked like I was drinking on the job. Two women were obsessed with me. They told my boss lies to get me fired. I talked to some of my superiors about it and they put it to me straight: Look, it’s pure unmitigated jealousy. They really do hate you because of the way you look.”

Or maybe she just made herself unapproachable.Nothing like being standoffish to put people off you.

Outside of work it was the same story: “I was once engaged to a man who ended it after his sister-in-law spread gossip about me to his family. They threatened to cut his inheritance if he stayed with me, so he left.”

But on the boyfriend front it was OK really: “I never had any trouble getting guys, but I got bored easily and moved on. I should have taken the good ones more seriously. I can see now that they would have been good husbands, fathers, and providers but I’d just drift away on to the next and stop returning their calls.”

Now that she is in her fifties she is rather miffed to find that she is becoming “invisible”, no longer attracting the admiring glances but having no network of friends to fall back on either. I find it hard not wonder if she should perhaps have worked on developing a personality instead of relying on her much vaunted beauty - which after all is in the eye of the beholder.

How will she feel when she is in her seventies?

In contrast, of sorts, I came across this article reminding those who rationalise being fat as a lifestyle choice that while fat-shaming should truly not be around, it isn’t really healthy to be overweight. What an odd world we live in where you can have eating disorders such as orthorexia - a pathological obsession with eating organically produced foods - and where we have people who are famous as Instagram stars!

Maybe we are all too obsessed with the way we look.

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