Oh Well

Beauty has never been a concern for me. When I was much younger, I wished I could be taller, that parts of me could be proportioned differently. I’ve never been what anyone would consider more than classically ordinary. I’ve never been beautiful. I am most often mistaken for a teacher, not the pole dancer/spy/art thief/heiress I’d like to be mistaken for. I am very lucky.

I’ve known people who were considered beautiful in youth. It is unsettling for them to witness their faces slide toward their bodies and their bodies slide toward the floor. I’m surprised by what has happened to my skin and the supporting structure beneath it. It’s deteriorated a lot faster than I thought it would. It hasn’t changed who I am or how the world relates to me. Men were not competing in throngs for my attention. Most of them described, imprudently, adjustments I might make to change my appearance to better suit their tastes when I was young; as if the inconsiderate chauvinists were possessed of comparable attributes.

I suppose I’ve had a fair share of attention but it wasn’t inspired by my great beauty. It doesn’t matter what drew them. I don’t recall ever encouraging admirers who had no hope or admirers who had less than the amount required to achieve what they were after.  It hasn’t escaped my notice that beautiful people often have a small entourage of hopefuls; others who desperately want in, but will never get the invitation.

Beauty requires vigilance. It’s an added responsibility, to meet expectations for something that isn’t an accomplishment but is a matter of genetics. It must be confusing to lose a characteristic that has become a definition of who you are. People still react to me in the same ways they did when I was young and ordinary, now that I am old and ordinary. The entrances I made did not usually stop conversation, provided I was sober. It must be lonely to wake up one day and find attention has vanished. Losing beauty, with the popularity that accompanies it, must be analogous to losing a limb to a physically active person. I can’t imagine it.

We all identify ourselves with what we see in the mirror. I’d be quite lost if I were maimed and unrecognizable. I don’t think I’d care to live that way. Vision is my favorite sense but I think I’d be able to make an easier adjustment to life as a blind person than life as a person who had to have a face transplant. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Lamenting the loss of youthful beauty seems sadly vain to me. Human beings get old and wrinkly, if they’re lucky. We could celebrate advancing years as a triumph over all the things that could have gone tragically wrong, forcing us to leave before we were quite ready. I think, often, of the people I’ve held dear who’ve lived less than a normal life expectancy. They’d be delighted to see wrinkles and sags appear on their aging selves, to be alive still.

Whatever I had on the outside is gone. It just up and left one day 4 or 5 years ago. It won’t be returning and I don’t miss it. I’m still here and I’m still me. I look in the mirror and I say, as I do about many things, “Oh well.”

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About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
This entry was posted in Human Condition and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Oh Well

  1. I have often wondered what it would be like to be even more handsome… but then I realize… that is just silly. My face would explode. Ha!!!

  2. maesprose says:

    Your eye seems to be holding up well!

  3. jatwood4 says:

    I feel the same way — you have a lovely left eye!

  4. I work in television and see this on a whole other level. It’s tough, unforgiving and relentless; the demand for beauty. If you walk in those shoes it’s a commitment that is a tough line to walk. I’ve found a multitude of personalities – the one where they know that you know that they know and to dream on. The one where – they want to make a difference and this is another tool to do it with and so reluctantly they go with it. And the one where everyone tells them how beautiful they are and they do everything to stay out of the spotlight and make themselves appear worse.

    Everyone has their weakness and strength.

    • elroyjones says:

      Yes, we all have strengths and weaknesses. I know men and women who do not equate beauty with anything other than youth. Both genders try to prolong youth; mani-pedi, facial, diet, hair, clothes, shoes- an awful lot of time and energy fighting the inevitable. I’ve been lucky not have that monkey on my back.

  5. People who rely on nothing but beauty eventually lose it and panic, and become… difficult. But people who never rely on it or just use it while it lasts, but are really fun to be around – that’s the real beauty.

  6. John says:

    I’m with you … I’m glad to have been average looking … makes the slide into middle age much easier…

  7. this and better…as my grandmother apparently said

    I could have written that post if I could write as well as you 😉 (in other words, this ordinary one agrees)

  8. Looking pretty is big business. People who work diligently on their appearance create many full-time jobs.

  9. On your recommendation, I looked in the mirror for the first time in 37 years. Holy Dorian Gray!

    • elroyjones says:

      Au contraire, your Czarness. If anything my musing was to warn people not to gaze into the mirror- as Lot said to his wife just before she became a monument to Morton’s, “Don’t look!”

  10. Doug says:

    Even weathered we can be fresh.

    Nice write.

    Yours,
    Doug

  11. benzeknees says:

    Because I was a model in my youth, there came a time when I received less attention. I noticed it but was thankful for less attention because of the ogling & sexual innuendos associated with good looks. Being good looking is not all it’s cracked up to be – it comes with its own set of problems.

    • elroyjones says:

      I had a friend, 20 years ago, who was a model in NYC. She was overwhelmed by the expectations associated with beauty and eventually succumbed to drugs and alcohol, never finding a way to communicate who she was in her mind.

      • benzeknees says:

        Being treated as a beautiful object rather than a person can be very painful. I’m sorry your friend succumbed to drugs & alcohol. I stopped after being stalked & assaulted (nearly raped). I changed my entire image shortly afterwards.

  12. Does such a wondefuful attitude come naturally or do you have to cultivate it?

    • elroyjones says:

      Hi Rosalie, I don’t know that I have a wonderful attitude but I do manage to have a good time. I try to make choices that will make me happy. Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment.

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