Monday, January 26, 2009

Even The Pretty Ones

My teenage daughter is beautiful. Okay, yeah, I know, I'm her mother and all that blah, blah, blah. And you're completely right. But that's not my point.

The things is--she possesses the qualities I always wanted to have. She's 5 foot 7, has skin that bronzes to perfection (no freckles) the first time she goes out in the sun, she's curvy in the right place, her school pictures turn out well, and, yeah, she has a cute nose.

So why doesn't she see herself that way? When she looks at her golden skin she sees pimples. Really, something would be wrong with the Universe if this girl didn't have a few skin blemishes. Her height makes her feel like a giant. True, the boys haven't caught up with her yet. But she's 5'7" like I always wanted to be!  And then there are the thighs.

Quick rant: Can we all just stop obsessing about thighs?!? Everyone's thighs spread out when they sit down. That's how they work--it's like physics or something. And, yeah, thighs touch each other. We're not Barbie dolls! Stop the upper leg hate, please. If it weren't for thighs we couldn't walk around or jump up and down when good things happen.

So, yeah, my daughter's list of things she'd change about her looks is longer than I ever would have imagined, especially for someone who takes such great school pictures. I've been shocked to learn that even pretty girls spend way too much time fretting about their supposed flaws. I thought that only girls who believed their noses were too big did that.

Does that mean that every girl hates something about her looks? Going back to being a mother and all that blah, blah, blah, the whole thing makes me so sad!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

True Beauty

Okay so I have to begin with a bit of a confession: I love bad television. Since I'm a bit ashamed of some of my TV watching habits, I tape certain shows and watch them while I exercise. In the basement. I'm always on the lookout for good Treadmill Television.

Recently I started taping True Beauty on ABC. It's a beauty contest for astonishingly vain, but attractive men and women. The catch? They're judging inner beauty too. So I'm trudging along, working up a sweat, watching good-looking people talk about how they know they're so gorgeous. And it's fascinating to me because I've never really felt that way.

And then these beauties start misbehaving--you know, nasty comments, backstabbing, lying, ignoring the plight of those around them, and all that run-of-the-mill Reality TV stuff (I really do watch my share of bad television).

But I start thinking about how I can't separate someone's personality from his/her looks. All my life, I've known people who are physically attractive, but I just couldn't see it anymore because of the way they behave.

To protect the not-so-innocent, I'll give a Hollywood example. I was, er, quite fond of Matthew McConaughey--I loved the Sweaty McConaughey movie (some call it A Time To Kill), the Sexy Priest movie (otherwise known at Contact), but then I saw him on Oprah. And he talked about drilling a hole in the floor of his custom van so he could pee through a funnel right onto the pavement! Um, yeah. Suddenly he just wasn't that cute.

While it's always fun to ogle physical beauty, I find that I just don't want to spend time with people unless they're attractive on the inside--interesting, intelligent, kind, curious, funny, adventurous, open-minded... My list of inner qualities is a lot longer than the basic tall, dark, and handsome stuff that you have to be born with. 

What's on your hubba-hubba inner beauty list?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Body Worlds

Last weekend I went to the Body Worlds exhibit. See here. It's an amazing exploration of the human body, using actual corpses that have been preserved using a process of plastination. The bodies are posed as athletes--an archer pulling back a bow and arrow, dancers mid-lift, a runner soaring over a hurdle--and show the complex muscles, nerves, organs, and veins that make our bodies work.

Stripped of the things that make up outward appearance, I was struck by the beauty of the human body. Everything works together so well! At one point, we walked through a room filled with huge barrels that represented the amount of blood our heart pumps in a day--incredible!

At the end of the exhibit there was a wall filled with "body secrets" that attendees had written anonymously on cards; people wrote stuff about hating their butts, anorexia, cutting, and drug abuse. So many heartbreaking confessions!

If only we could love the complicated inside parts of us, without allowing our complicated feelings about our outsides to get in the way, wouldn't we all feel much happier about ourselves?


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On A Seattle Bus Part One

One day, not nearly long enough ago, my brother called me to say that a friend of his had seen "his sister" on the bus. This girl had never met me or even seen a photograph, but she knew that I lived in Seattle, along with, you know, more than half-a-million other people. And she'd recognized our family resemblance on a crowded city bus.

It was me. I did exit on Broadway. I was wearing a purple sweater.

But do I really look that much like my brother? I'm almost five years older. His hair is blond, while mine, especially when I lived in Seattle, is more brownish. Our eyes are different shades of blue. But the main thing--he's a foot taller than me, as in a dozen inches. Tall and thin to my short and curvy. So how did this stranger know that I was my brother's sister?

It had to be the nose.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Welcome to that time of year when you're supposed to feel terrible about your appearance. The magazines at the grocery store checkout scream dozens of ways for you to lose those 5, 10, 15 holiday pounds (yeah, the same magazines that gave you the recipes for all those goodies you ate). You can't turn on the TV without seeing advertising for various diets and exercise equipment. Perfectly muscled men and slender women fill your screen with their sweat-free pull-ups and stomach crunches. But there's no way those people got those bodies from something that arrived on their doorsteps disassembled in a box. First they won the genetic lottery and then they worked, probably for hours and hours, with professional trainers.

But for some reason we're all supposed to look like that?

Well, at least we're supposed to feel bad about how we look, so, you know, we'll buy some of those magazines, diet plans, and exercise machines (six easy payments!).

But really have you ever liked someone more because they weighed 5, 10, 15 pounds less? Having that ideal body doesn't make you more intelligent, or charming, or fun to spend time with. Some of the most boring people I've met are the ones who only talk about dieting and exercise (snooze!).

So give yourself a break this New Year. If your jeans feel a bit snug, don't think mean thoughts about yourself, remember how much fun you had making cookies with your sister, laughing with your cousins at that big family dinner... Because you're fabulous just the way you are!