I like my women striking. It’s self-centered. It’s because I have a big nose, I think. I’ve been to war and back with my big nose, but the women I think are the most stunning almost always have big noses, too. I can walk by a hundred Victoria’s Secret posters (and I do. Who doesn’t, in the city?), and not care. But when I meet a woman with something different going on with her beauty, I am immediately intrigued.
Maybe I just like tension. I like love stories about Muslims and Jews. I am bored by romantic comedies where the difference between the girl and the guy is that she is a girl and she has brown eyes and he is a guy and he has blue eyes.
I like beauty that surprises a little.
And then, inevitably, when I get to know a surprising beautiful woman, she doesn’t like the thing about her that makes her surprising.
And even though I am exactly the same, I am a little crushed.
When I was a kid, I had this friend who I thought was stunning. She was broad-shouldered and sturdy, with smooth, thick limbs. She was strong. She looked like nothing could ever break her. And it was a great look. She was gorgeous. And then it turned out that she’d counted herself out of the ranks of the beautiful long ago, because of her size. Because beauty to her meant tiny and delicate and willowy and fragile. Those were the women who had it. She didn’t.
Except she did. I could see it plain as day.
A few years ago, I met a gorgeous young woman with incredibly bold features. Everything about her looked dramatic, and exotic, and awesome. And she casually mentioned that life would be easier if she was prettier. If she was pretty in the first place. She thought that it was the girls with quiet faces who got to own beauty. The girls who looked sweeter. Beauty was supposed to be theirs, not hers.
But she was wrong.
And of course, there was the woman from my childhood whose nose job devastated me. Because her nose had been perfect, with its regal arch, and then it suddenly flipped up, the way, I learned over and over again, noses were supposed to. I thought I was going to grow up to be like her– beautiful in a different, queenly way. Instead, predictably, I grew up to get a nose job.
And it’s not just about having that dramatic look I’m drawn to. I know women with sweet, open faces who have decided it isn’t them, they don’t have it, because of their stomachs, and women with flat stomachs who have decided they don’t have it because of their height. There’s almost always something.
I remember exactly where we were when the young woman with the incredible face told me that she wasn’t pretty. It was Columbus and 73rd. And I said something, but I didn’t say, “You’re beautiful,” because I was less confident then. And because I didn’t think you could say those things as much as I do now.
It isn’t just a line. I think she’s beautiful.
But, of course, I’m the same. Bear says, “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”
I say, “You clearly haven’t met very many women.”
That is my automatic response.
“Yes I have,” he says.
“Oh yeah? Really! And exactly who are all these women you’ve met?”
“All of them. You’re the most beautiful.”
Yeah, yeah. In my mind, I am standing next to Minka Kelly (the new Charlie’s Angels is terrible, by the way. I tried to watch it on Hulu last night). I am clearly not the most beautiful. Even though Minka Kelly doesn’t look interesting to me. She looks beautiful, of course, but not in the way I am drawn to. So why is it so strange to think that other people might be drawn to quirkiness, too?
I want the women who are differently beautiful to say, “I am gorgeous.” I want them to believe it.
Because that is the kind of gorgeous I would be, if I was gorgeous. Because beauty is big enough.
I can’t quite do it. I can’t quite say, “I am gorgeous.” Because I’m not, I think. Obviously. It would sound ridiculous.
“I can’t quite do it,” they might say back. “Because I’m not.”
Just say it!
I’m gorgeous. I’m gorgeous.
I don’t want to be another surprising, striking woman who wishes she was just a little more normal. I want to be the woman a little girl looks at and says, “I could be her, when I grow up.”
I am gorgeous.
* * *
Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a short skirt.
P.S. HuffPo took forever (three days! It’s ancient history! Democracy Now got the story AFTER me but published it first!) to publish this, and it’s not the sort of thing I usually share on this blog, but here’s a tiny piece I wrote about a protest my friend went to. It’s not exactly unbiased, but then, I’m not exactly a good reporter.