Sunday, February 24, 2013

the point of beauty

When I was eighteen I fell into a crowd where the boys went by names like Payne, Maverick, Axel... and the girls, well, the girls always seemed to be named Ashley. Brunette Ashley, blonde Ashley, jet black Ashley - all my friends, they should have been the ones with the nicknames.  The boys were just regular boys with names like Steven, Alexander, Michael, middle names and last names, although I don't remember them anymore. I used to know. How do you get to be the girl in this photo? Not that getting to be the girl in this photo is really anything remarkable, but it seems that way when you're young (younger than I am now). Let me tell you.

Us girls, we looked a certain way. It didn't take me long to figure out what I needed to look like: tan, all year round.  Look, I'm pale. Naturally white as one can be. So it takes some fake baking myself to get remotely close to what some girls just have, or seem to have. Sheesh. Notice the fake nails in the photo above... you probably didn't. Those are $50 dollar nails though, attached to my actual fingernails with gel. It's really impressive to watch the nail technician shape onto your nail something so pretty, so perfect. Too bad it ruins your real nails underneath. Hair needed to be as long as and straight as I could make it. Eyeliner and mascara should be thick and black, bottom and top, covering up any hint that you don't have amazing, voluptuous eyelashes.  One last thing, flat midriff showing. Duh. Classic hot girl, you've all seen it in the movies.That's why your skin has to be so tan, so people don't mind looking at it. Being tan hides (almost) all flaws.

Big X's - Underage!

Now I look back at these photos, I think, I look happy. Was I happy? Maybe I was happy. But I can assure you: I was not happy. Actually, I remember crying all that make up off almost every night in the car. It still doesn't stop me from wanting to look like this again. I really do like being tan. I really do. So sue me. The reason I was crying wasn't because of all the work I put into what I looked like, it was because it all didn't matter. I still wasn't good enough. I never would be.

When my first real boyfriend got his first real apartment, I remember the posters going up.  I remember the magazines strewn across the bedroom floor. Playstation backgrounds. Phone pictures. Not to mention the names and texts of girls whose faces I'll never know, but names I'll never forget. It was never said, it never needed to be said. Hey, I did my part. I look like how I'm supposed to, love me, k? Problem: I can't have brunette, blonde and black hair all at once.  Problem: my eyes will always be green. Problem: I can't give myself a better figure. In some not-so-far-off places those things can all change, and all do. All the time. Altering appearance is the very foundation of the beauty industry.  The real problem is: we can change all of these things.

At the beginning of this I wanted to talk about beauty... that is not what I have been talking about. I've been talking about something that was not beautiful at all, only pretend. Only pretty smiles and sad eyes.Yes, natural beauty does exist. People are physically attractive.  After I realized that making myself look like something just for someone else not only didn't work but didn't even make me happy, I was left wondering what's the point of being beautiful (outwardly so).

I don't know.

Living in Uptown was about the best thing that ever happened to me for this very reason: what I looked like didn't matter. At all. It was actually important for me to look as unattractive as I could. You know what else didn't matter? My credentials. Resume. Things I had done. None of it mattered. All that mattered is that I was there. All that mattered was my heart.  And my heart really, really, really did matter. It was a time of being loved simply for who I was. Which is what I trying to do myself, just love whoever was nearest, just because they should be loved.

Unfortunately I don't live in Uptown anymore and I have to go this job downtown, you know, and I even have to look nice.  When I swipe on mascara and fix my hair I sigh and wonder how long I'll do this. At least I know why I do it now. And, by the way, I do know now I'm OK just the way I am and don't need to become anything else and neither do you, you hear?  All my friends who are Inerman Angels, JJO girls, or working at Hooters, just be doing what you're doing for you.  Changing your hair color every week actually sounds pretty fun to me, so go right ahead.  We're all made the way we are and it's really all right. Really. Also, get a dog and be loved by that dog unconditionally. That's my advice.


Donna Boucher said...

This just confuses me. It is your truth. But it's like I do not know this girl.
I'm sorry.
Who was your biggest influence in this beauty department?
Was it a reaction to your plain, modest mom?
I sincerely wonder.

Emma Boucher said...

In the blog I say who &what the influence was. You did a great job raising me and it wasn't a reaction to who you are. I don't know this girl anymore, either.

Anonymous said...

Don't we all do this at some point in our lives? Look or act a certain way. I think it helps point us to our true selves. At least I hope it does for most of us...not everyone is as as lucky.

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