Not hot–amazing.

I think that when I was a kid, I was never really pretty. Pictures of me with other girls my age reveal their bright eyes and wide smiles and sweet faces. I am odd and complicated looking. Sometimes I appear to be slender and coltish. Sometimes I am lumbering and awkward. It depends on the angle.

But I am comfortable with this.

Because I know that as a kid, I felt pretty. And I got what I needed. And nothing, certainly not my looks, stood in my way.

And now, looking at the photos of me as a kid, I see that I am clearly the scrappy protagonist in a book about a girl who survives happily in the wilderness for two years until she’s finally discovered by a stray mountain climber who got separated from his team by a sudden storm. And chased by a mountain lion. A mountain lion that had fallen into a cautious alliance with the scrappy protagonist.


Looking at the photos of me as a kid, it’s obvious that I am spunky, and that if given the proper instruction, I could probably wield a sword no problem. And befriend a dragon, and become that dragon’s librarian. Did anyone read those books about the weird princess with the tangled hair who was big and strong and ran away to do just that with a powerful girl dragon? I think they were by Patricia C. Wrede.

It occurs to me that later on, when I learned that I had failed by looking spunky instead of lovely, maybe I was missing a big point. Maybe I have continued to miss the point.

This is the point: There is plenty of room for interesting. A lot more room than you think.


Have you ever disliked someone for not being lovely enough? Discounted them?

I don’t think I have. Maybe, but it was totally subconscious, I swear.

Guys are definitely allowed to be spirited and vivid rather than gorgeous. The awkward-looking, ferocious guy in the movie gets the lingerie model every time. But in real life, not everyone is actually looking for a lingerie model. I’d guess that most people aren’t. Not for friends, not for employees, not for inspiration, not for a partner.

And thinking about it a little more objectively, I’m pretty sure I’d rather tame dragons.

Not that it has to be one or the other.

But looking at myself as a kid and a teenager, I like what I see, even though it isn’t always pretty. It’s always interesting.

People say, “So I guess she’s not hot then?” when you say, “She’s interesting.” Actually, guys say that. I don’t think girls say that very often.

I think the truth is, I care about interesting more, in the end. So I want to say back, “Nope, not hot–” (even if it’s not true) “amazing.”

The funny thing is, the hot part tends to follow.


*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love how unpredictable I’ve always looked.

P.S. I think fantasy novels were really important to my development as a young woman. Sometimes the heroine is startlingly beautiful, but often she’s just awesome. And what she does is almost always more important than the way she looks.




Kate on July 5th 2011 in beauty, being different

11 Responses to “Not hot–amazing.”

  1. bethany actually responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Your p.s. made me think of Felicia Day, both the characters she plays and her as a person. She’s a slight, pale, interesting-looking redhead. She’s not pretty, but she’s amazingly talented and interesting and BEAUTIFUL.

    Thanks as always for pointing out what should be obvious in such a lovely way.

  2. Melanie responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    As a fellow former unschooler who spent my days reading Dealing with Dragons and other fantasy novels, thank you for your awesome blog! I enjoy reading both your blogs; i never thought about it a lot before but I think not having to compare myself to a bunch of other girls looks-wise was probably one of the best things about being homeschooled. there was always something way more interesting to focus on than what I wore. :-)

  3. Kate responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    @bethany actually
    Just looked her up. I really like her look!

  4. Kate responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    That series was so awesome.
    And yes– it was really, really nice not having to compare myself to other girls my age all the time. I feel lucky for that.

  5. Kate responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    also, apparently Felicia Day was also homeschooled. Funny.

  6. Emily responded on 05 Jul 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    I love Felicia Day… watch the guild! You will like it :)

  7. Laurie S. responded on 06 Jul 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Princess Cimorene and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles!? Darling, you and your blog had me at “Hello,” but it’s your charming wit and (apparently) classy tastes in books that bring me back for more. Those were the books that got me through a particularly hellish fifth grade year wherein I experienced a certain amount of bullying by a group of “mean girls.”

    Your mention of guys commenting “So I guess she’s not hot then?” when one says that a girl is “interesting” strikes a nerve with me. I’m always shocked and appalled to find out who guys in their early 20s think are “fugly” or “fat.” More than that, I’m appalled at how casually they say, “She’s such a but-her-face,” or “I only date 9′s and 10′s, and she’s definitely a 3.”

    It’s an infuriatingly damaging mindset to say the least.

  8. Valerie responded on 06 Jul 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Dealing With Dragons was the first book in that trilogy. I picked up the other two at a used book store. I’m glad you mentioned running away to take care of a dragon’s library. I knew immediately that you were referencing Dealing With Dragons and the princess, in my opinion, was and is the best female protagonist ever.

  9. bethany actually responded on 06 Jul 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Ha! That’s right, Felicia Day *was* homeschooled! I knew that but wasn’t thinking about it when I left my comment. :-)

  10. Kate responded on 07 Jul 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    She really may have been

  11. Eat the Damn Cake » Reasons why you should feel good about your body responded on 26 Oct 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    [...] 3. Even though you can recognize yourself, you always look different. How you feel and what you do and who you’re with and what kind of mirror you’re looking in all shift and rearrange the way you appear to yourself. It’s cool. Sometimes it’s awful. Sometimes you feel like total crap. But there’s always potential for startling beauty. Or surprising awesomeness. [...]