October 16th, 2011

“I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles”

~ Janis Ian

The only thing I have to say to this song lyric is: what the heck took her so long??

I‘d figured this out by age 14.

As I’ve shared earlier, by the age of five or six I was already overweight. I had corrective shoes and glasses, set off by mousy brown hair. Could my worldview have gotten any bleaker?

Children are little sh!ts. They are merciless in their brutality in elementary and middle school. I was always the last one picked for anything in any sort of relay race, soccer or even tether ball.

The kind comments I heard from well meaning adults were: “You’re so smart.” “You’re so funny.”

It wasn’t long until I figured out those were consolation prizes for never being a great beauty.

Fast forward to adulthood. When I turned 40 years of age I called my sister and said, “There is now never any chance that anyone is ever going to look at me and want me.”

“What do you care?” she asked. “You’re happily married.”

“Not the point,” I responded. “No stranger on the street ever wanted me. Now they never will.”

“I understand,” she said.

But how could she? She wasn’t 40.

Luckily for me, on the maternal side of my family the women really don’t come into their own until their 40s.

Somewhere after my 40th birthday I collected a bevy of 35 year olds who seemed to be attracted to me.

I credit their (potentially) misplaced adulation for allowing me to re-write my thoughts on beauty.

Could a plus-size woman be attractive?

What about a mid-forties woman?

At my sister’s wedding last month, after being made up by a professional hair and makeup stylist I was shocked at how amazing I looked. (And of course, the bride, also a 40+, was just glowing.)

Several glasses of wine into the reception I had a moment alone with my father and I kept saying, “You have such beautiful daughters…..we look amazing!”

His response was: “And you’re so smart too!”

Like the screeching scratch of a record player arm ruining your favorite album in an Allie McBeal episode, my euphoria at my own reflection in the mirror shattered.

I stared at my father like he was nuts: “What? Why the hell would I want to be smart? It is a consolation prize!! Don’t you understand??? All I’ve ever wanted is to be attractive!”

Where the heck has intelligence ever taken me?

What about being witty?? I ask you – where? Why would I ever “settle” for being these consolation prizes?

Screw intelligence! Screw a great sense of humor! Screw a kind heart! I don’t care if you ‘can’t fix stupid’ I just want my Holy Grail: I want to be beautiful!

So, with less than 5 years left on my ‘decade of gorgeousness’ (without lots of plastic surgery….if you’d like to contribute I’ll be happy to supply you with my PayPal account information) I am glad to have finally (w/only two hours of help by professionals) reached my Holy Grail: I’m finally attractive!

I ask you: what is your Holy Grail? What would it mean if you could actually achieve it?