October 4, 2013

Truth is Beauty, But What is Truth?

I have no idea what I look like.

How can that be? I’m not blind. At least, I don’t think I am.

I mean, I’ve got the basics down: tall, blonde, 43 years old. I recognize myself most of the time if I see myself in a picture or a mirror. But outside of a fuzzy general idea of my appearance, I’m clueless.

Do I look old or young? Thin or fat? Nice or mean?

Does how I look change from minute to minute, rather than just from year to year? Can I be beautiful one moment and ugly the next?

It certainly feels that way.

My husband sometimes talks about women who are “two faced.” By this he doesn’t mean duplicitous; he is referring to a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry dates a girl who looks gorgeous in some circumstances and hideous in others. Jerry calls her a “two face.”  I think that’s me. (My husband would disagree, but what does he know?)

Old insecurities? Check.

I was what people call an “ugly duckling.” (Again, my mother would disagree, but what does she know? I’m a mother too. My kids could look like Chuckie and I’d think they were darling).

There wasn’t anything pretty about me until freshman year of high school, and even then I was a mess. Taller than everyone else, heavier than all the girls; I just felt like a big doofus. I still do.

It mystifies me when people tell me I look “intimidating.” What’s intimidating? My giant, awkward, aging body?

I’ve got the smoke and mirrors down. If I go out, even I think I look good. But God I can’t wait to get home and just be plain again. It’s exhausting trying to be beautiful.

And yet, like most women, I wish I was. Naturally, I’m saying. Like wake-up-in-the-morning-glimmering beautiful. Not meticulously-put-on-make-up-and-the-exact-right-dress beautiful.

I sometimes wonder, if I saw myself on the street, would I even recognize me? I wish I could.. see myself on the street, that is. Just have a totally impartial glance at myself, just for a sec.

I also wonder if I saw myself at 23-years old on the street, what would I think? Would I look anything like I thought I looked? Better? Worse? I’ve got no idea.

I hate caring about this. It’s so shallow and so stupid and such an energy drain. And in reality, nobody cares what I  look like except me..and my husband, and he’s totally down with it.

Or do they?

If I put on 100 pounds how different would my world be? Would I have the same friends? Would I do the same stuff? Would my husband leave me?

You see, this is about fear. Fear of not being loved. This so-called superficial concern thinly veils a rich vein of fear, which runs deeps indeed. How do I mine this vein, bring the fear to the surface and alchemically turn it into something positive?

I know I’m not alone. There must be some woman out there who feels great about the way she looks and confident that she will be loved as is– but I don’t know her. I know a lot of women who appear to be those things. It’s kind of a sliding scale, these insecurities. Some women are paralyzed by them, others are simply annoyed by them and swat them away like so many skeeters.

I guess I’m in the middle somewhere.

If, as the saying goes, “Truth is beauty, and beauty, truth,” then all I have to do is keep trying to get to the bottom of this. If I unravel this mystery, dig up this fear and inspect it courageously, I will find truth. And then maybe, I will also find beauty.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: courtesy of Flickr/The Pie Shops}


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