I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

The Beast of Beauty


About six years ago I was working with these two lovely ladies (I still keep in touch with one). We were all very unique and different both in looks and personalities. Yet we got along swimmingly! We were each coordinators for an entire department of people. It wasn’t always a fun or exciting job, but having each other to talk or IM with was what made it better. We would often discuss our relationships or problems we were having or just chit-chat, as people often do.

I remember one particularly long day when one gal was out sick and the other two of us had like nothing to do and no one was in the office (they did field work 80% of the time) and so we were just hanging out waiting for the phone to ring or more work to come in. I was talking to this gal and while a bit older than myself I had always felt that she was slightly naive or sheltered. When she told me about her recent divorce I was surprised. But when she started telling me about this new man in her life, she started to positively glow! I was so happy for her. So I asked all sorts of questions about him.

Then she said something that both broke my heart and made me a bit angry; her husband had never told her she was beautiful! This new guy? He did, every single day! He was madly in love with her and she was with him, but too afraid still to just jump into it. The importance of a man telling her she was beautiful was what struck me. The look on her face was what broke my heart, but I got mad because I wanted to throttle her and tell her, “You don’t need a man to tell you that!” But she did. Some women just do.

I’m torn on the beautiful thing. I have gone through many periods of my life (I feel as though I’ve lived many different lives, too) where I have felt differently about this, but I think I have it straight in my head at the moment so I’ll share with you.

First thing’s first: Why is being or feeling or being told you’re beautiful so important? Why is that the measure of our worth? It makes me sick and sad and angry all at once! While I have been told by men and women (and boys and girls back when I was one) that I was both beautiful and ugly at differing times and by different people, it was how I felt at the time that made it true or not. I still think that. It is where your head is at that makes it worth something or worthless to hear. Why do I need to even be evaluated in this way? Right now? I don’t! I most certainly fucking don’t! And you know, sometimes I need to hear it or something like it. Sometimes I get down on myself and feel ugly. Other times I feel so fucking fabulous that you could throw dog shit on me and I’d laugh in your fucking face! You do not need to be told by anyone that you are beautiful! You can be beautiful sitting still  or changing a damned tire. It doesn’t have to hold value for you unless you want it to.

Secondly, maybe I don’t want to be beautiful or pretty or ugly or hideous or anything in between at all! Maybe I just want to be me! Is that so wrong? Can I just be without seeking or receiving unsolicited judgments form others? Jeesh! And I have had days where someone saying that to me can crush me, too. It can lift me up or slam me back down, again, it’s how I’m already feeling. I just think that it is so very fucked up that we’re told from an early age that girls are beautiful/pretty and men are handsome. What does handsome even mean? I know when a woman is called handsome it generally means masculine yet good looking. Can’t we just say, “you’re attractive.” or “you’re good looking.”? Is that so bad? And still, what do my looks have anything to do with you or the world? I didn’t choose them and so what does it matter? It doesn’t make me any more or less worthy of living my life!

I remember some very scary and dark times in my past where hearing someone tell me I’m beautiful would have meant something. It maybe would have helped me a little. But then I remember those same times when someone did tell me that and it made me want to throw up (literally)! I think it is up to the individual to decide where that fits into their life if at all. I used to think that everyone was beautiful (and still do to a certain extent but then I get to thinking and realize that that is wrong, too). But what about the people who don’t want to be or be seen as beautiful? You see the problem here? Yeah, it’s tough!

I think in the end it’s about self acceptance and how that journey never ends. Every day is different. Every person unique. Every life valuable and worthy. I just worry about those who seek validation from strangers or lovers under the guise of beauty. Do you want them to see you as an object of beauty? Why? Sometimes I do want to be seen as that, but other times I would much prefer to be seen as a unique and multi-faceted individual. Your appraisal of me is irrelevant! Sometimes I want to embrace what others may see as ugly and celebrate it on it’s own. And then there are times when I go out of my way to pretty-up (generally this means a lot of time with make-up and curling irons or hairspray) and in the end I’m rarely satisfied. I’m still me underneath the gunk on my face and even then? I may not feel very pretty at all. I once saw a photo of myself and I didn’t recognize me. I looked so severe! And a friend’s boyfriend said, “Oh man! You look so hot in that picture!” I felt grossed out. How could someone see that pic of me and think I’m hot in it and not in real life? Especially when I didn’t even recognize myself and certainly didn’t think it was a good pic of me. Ew! I’m still skeeved by that, I guess. Ha-ha!

I believe that it is in our actions and the way we go about the lives we lead that make us “beautiful.” I refuse to place any importance on beauty, but still am able to recognize it in the world and to celebrate it’s wonder. In the eye of the beholder? Perhaps. But it is still up to each individual to decide whether or not it means anything to them.



posted under Blog
15 Comments to

“The Beast of Beauty”

  1. On December 16th, 2010 at 12:59 pm sabrina Says:

    loving this post – i’ve been thinking on this very same question for the past several days. i am super conflicted about it, which is why your statement about how this is a journey and it’s different every day totally stuck with me. some days i could give two flying fucks what someone thinks of me, about my personality, my clothes, my looks, my whatever. and i think my ideal self WANTS to not place importance on my looks (or what others think of my looks), but i’m honestly not so sure that’s possible, or that i even want that. while yes, it can be an emotional rollercoaster of a life to need/want external validation about our looks, it is also inherently human (i think) to want people to “like” us – whether that means our looks or something else. and maybe that’s not such a bad thing, provided we also work on loving ourselves at the same time?

    Which is why I would say, to your statement, “Do you want them to see you as an object of beauty? Why? Sometimes I do want to be seen as that, but other times I would much prefer to be seen as a unique and multi-faceted individual” that I want BOTH. I want people to see my beauty AND see that I am unique and multi-faceted.

    Awesome post, thanks for the thoughtfulness!

  2. On December 16th, 2010 at 1:05 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    I see value in wanting both. I would ask though, what do you tell someone who has always felt ugly, inside & out, yet seeks to be seen as beautiful from someone else despite that?

  3. On December 16th, 2010 at 1:06 pm Twistie Says:

    I wonder if what your friend was reacting to wasn’t even so much the thought of being ‘pretty’ so much as being appreciated and validated by her partner? Even though I don’t need constant telling that I’m beautiful or smart or funny, all those things are still nice to hear from someone I know cares about me.

    As thorny as the question can be, we all need some validation from time to time.

  4. On December 16th, 2010 at 1:08 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Yes, I think you’re right. It’s a tricky thing, I think. And it seems to change, in my mind at least, over time. =0)

  5. On December 16th, 2010 at 3:15 pm Patsy Nevins Says:

    Good post & very timely for me. I have always been, objectively speaking, no more than average looking &, according to some people, less than that. I am an abuse survivor who was told that I was ugly & unlovable. I have cerebral palsy, I don’t move gracefully, & now I am in my 60’s. I am not into glamor, never have been, do not wear makeup or dye my hair…what you see is what you get. Yet in my heart & soul I am a good, loving, generous, caring person, a strong person, a survivor. It would be nice to be beautiful to someone.

    Because of my history, this month is the worst time of the year for me, painful & very difficult to get through & I am more sensitive & emotional than usual. I care for my granddaughter regularly & we are very close. A couple of days ago, in casual play, she described me as being ‘ugly’. That hurt as if someone had driven a knife into my chest. Yes, we all do need validation from time to time. And no one needs or deserves to be told she is ugly.

  6. On December 16th, 2010 at 3:25 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    I know how that feels. *Hugs* This time of year, I think, is difficult for everyone. For varying reasons, of course. But you may be surprised later on when she’s a bit older, I know as I have gotten older my views of what is and isn’t beauty/ugly have severely changed.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it is so important for survivors of abuse (myself included) to tell their story so that others know that they are not alone in the world. We hold so much useless shame and guilt over such things that we obviously have no control over. No one asks for abuse, it comes to them. It’s never easy to tell your story, but I think (at least for me) it gets easier each time I share it.
    You never know though, people aren’t forthcoming with compliments these days. Someone does think that you are beautiful! They may just not know how to tell you!

  7. On December 17th, 2010 at 9:01 am viajera Says:

    Do you want them to see you as an object of beauty? Why? Sometimes I do want to be seen as that, but other times I would much prefer to be seen as a unique and multi-faceted individual.

    I would also argue that it’s possible to have both – to be seen as both beautiful and as unique and multi-faceted. Speaking for myself, as someone who was fat throughout childhood I grew up seeing myself as the ugly duckling. In my 20’s I finally learned to see myself as decent-looking, maybe even attractive, and to love myself for my talents and abilities and intelligence. But beautiful? I could never quite believe it. It wasn’t until I met my current boyfriend, who reminds me day in and day out just how beautiful, gorgeous even, he finds me (as just one of many things he loves about me) that I could finally start to believe that maybe, just maybe, I am beautiful after all. So for me, while I already loved and respected myself for other qualities, which I personally place more value on than beauty, it did take external validation before I could believe myself to be beautiful.

  8. On December 17th, 2010 at 9:17 am Not Blue at All Says:

    And that is why I think it is such a personal thing. Thank you for sharing your story. =0)

  9. On December 17th, 2010 at 9:23 am sabrina Says:

    “I see value in wanting both. I would ask though, what do you tell someone who has always felt ugly, inside & out, yet seeks to be seen as beautiful from someone else despite that?”

    I guess I’m not sure what you’re asking. I would never want to tell someone who has always felt ugly, inside and out, that she/he needed to work on loving herself more, as sometimes that can just be and feel patronizing as hell, you know? But maybe for that person, the journey to self acceptance will start with someone else telling her she’s beautiful? And if that’s what works for that person, then rock the hell on. 🙂

  10. On December 17th, 2010 at 1:57 pm sandrad Says:

    I think there is a huge difference between the statement “you are beautiful” and “I find you beautiful”. One is about how you look, the other so much more.

  11. On December 17th, 2010 at 2:03 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    I like this. Thank you!

  12. On December 17th, 2010 at 6:34 pm Rachel Says:

    This really resonates with me because I was told I was ugly and worthless for a majority of my teenage years, it wasn’t until I was about 18/19 that I suddenly had guys everywhere telling me I was gorgeous and whatnot and I can’t believe how much of my self worth I used to base on that shit. This day and age I’m not as bothered by it as I once was but I still have those days you described– where I just FEEL ugly and down on myself, and others where I feel so damn fabulous that I could be in burlap smeared with dog poo but feel like a million bucks!

    But the divorced woman you mentioned…I just kinda feel her pain. While I don’t place importance on being thought of as an object of beauty like I did in my late teens I still think if a man really wants to be with you he WILL think of you as beautiful in some way, right? I don’t need to be told it all the time but the last man I was with seriously barely ever made me feel like I was attractive or worthy.

  13. On December 18th, 2010 at 10:05 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Yes, I do believe that if someone is in love with you that they will see you as beautiful and strong and all of the things that matter.
    I was told I was pretty and ugly off and on growing up. It gave me no idea what so ever what those things even meant in the real world. So when guys started saying it I didn’t believe them and convinced myself they only did it to get in my pants. Not the great of self-esteem builders. It wasn’t until I saw myself differently that I believed it externally. And now? Eh. Depends on the day. But I don’t think I’d let someone call me ugly again without a serious talking to, ya know?! Ha!

  14. On December 18th, 2010 at 11:54 am j. Says:

    I concur whole heartedly with all the points you made in the post. My question about the coworker is this: While saying she’s beautiful may have been the action, I wonder if the intent BEHIND those words are what made her so sad? Would their marriage have ended up the same way if he told her, everyday that she meant the world to him, that she lights up his day every time he sees her?
    I think it isn’t so much about hearing that one is beautiful, but that your loved one is taking the time to express love regardless of how it’s said.
    In my head, it sounded much more eloquent. I wonder where I veered off course.
    Great post!

  15. On December 18th, 2010 at 11:56 am Not Blue at All Says:

    You make a great point: Intent is everything! Tell people you love them, dammit! I love you, J! <3

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