I was never the pretty one. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t entirely unfortunate looking (to paraphrase a line from the movie Legally Blonde) but I was never the type to walk into a place and have heads turn because of my beauty. In that respect, I guess I’m like most people.
I never gave it much thought, not being blond and blue-eyed, which seemed to be favoured over my features, brunette and hazel-eyed, but I do think I sold myself short now and again.
Time marched on, and here I am, firmly in middle age. I don’t get carded anymore when I buy booze and see some younger people deducting points from my IQ because I look older. Well, if they saw me trying to turn on my i-Phone, I shouldn't wonder at all about that; fortunately, I had that embarrassing moment in the privacy of my own home.
I recently came to appreciate that I wasn't one of the pretty ones when I saw an acquaintance really struggling with this. I've only known her for the past five years or so, and while she’s not unfortunate looking, I don’t know that I’d say she was really all that pretty. Tall, thin, and thanks to a trip to her stylist, blond or blond highlights to meld with the grey in her hair. Her face is lined a little bit, with the lines that come from worry or stress. If I were a guy, I think I’d think of her as someone pretty high maintenance. And I wondered how she ended up where she did, why she made some decisions that were based on such faulty reasoning, and it took me a bit to work out that she must have been exceedingly pretty in her youth. The kind of beauty that makes both men and women stop and stare when she enters a room. The kind where people rush up to help her, wanting to do anything to be next to her. So, she didn't have to spend a lot of time developing other parts of herself, really. She could sit on her pretty pedestal and call the shots.
And somewhere along the way, the physical beauty faded. She still has a statuesque build, but her holding forth on some subjects comes across as pedantic or with the expectation that everyone still awaits to hear what she has to say. News flash—they don’t. I find now when I speak to her, I usually find a topic we both like, and when she's truly engaged in the conversation, she shows a very different side of herself, and one that I like very much.
We shall never be close friends as our interests are vastly different, and we rarely see each other. At first, I found her quite annoying. Over time, I've mellowed and now find myself feeling sorry for her and being grateful that I wasn't one of the pretty ones. I had to develop other parts of myself and never relied on my physical appearance to have people do my bidding. Indeed, I never really counted on people to do my bidding—I most often learned to do things by myself or find like-minded people and enjoyed their companionship as we worked together. But it was the common interest that drew us to the task at hand rather than the “She’s pretty, I want to get to know her better (or in her pants) so I’ll make my move” scenario that this once stunning woman undoubtedly encountered often.
I never really thought about beauty being a burden. I’m rather glad it’s one I never really carried.