lundi, octobre 17, 2011
Picture as an exhibition
I've been thinking about what it means to be physically attractive recently. It's something that many of us think about, whether we say that we do, or not.
After all, this is a culture that prizes looks -- or, perhaps it may be more accurate to say that throughout time, in many cultures, certain physical attributes have been given a certain marketplace value.
And, in studies sure to be controversial, many have argued that good looks get men and women ahead, not just in the bedroom, but in the boardroom (read this article if you wish to be depressed/informed.)
What this means for those who didn't win the evolutionary, and possibly ridiculously cultural lottery when it comes to looks?
One just has to try a little harder -- and be smug about the longevity or intelligence or creative genes you do have!
All of this speculation was prompted by a picture of a friend I came across a month or two ago.
It was one taken in his twenties, way before our ways crossed.
He's a fine looking man now. But in his youth, he was more than fine (and not just in that "seventies or eighties way," as a much younger mutual friend of ours said. Some of us remember the eighties).
And no, my friend wasn't Sir Edmund Gosse (though you have to admit he was hot in a late 1880's way).
Seeing that picture prompted me to ponder whether good looks make a real difference.
Does it really ease your access to that first job? Do looks mean that people are more willing to trust you? Does it mean that women, or men, are more forward?
And what are the implications of being advantaged? What happens when you are hired? Are you more persuasive? What effect does it have on your romantic relationships?
I wasn't a particularly attractive college student -- a classic example of hiding whatever assets I had under Indian print skirts, scarves and the classic freshman twenty.
It wasn't until a really bad breakup in my early thirties/late twenties that I started to take care of myself. In my case, I began to get better haircuts, learned to use makeup, started to exercise and lost the twenty(this is not the scrip for everybody -- I am a believer that curves can be lovely).
I've never had conventionally good looks -- but I stopped questioning the benefits of playing up what I do have.
Although, I have to admit that even now, when I have a fair number of guys bidding for my attention, I still sometimes wonder why -- it's a throwback to those old days when I blamed myself for every time a guy chose the blond.
Now I look in the mirror, and most days, like what I see -- as do some guys I respect! (And women, thank you for your moral support when I truly need it).
What would have happened if I'd played up the exotic in my twenties, instead of hiding under a torrent of wavy brown hair and loose jeans?
Who knows? I realize now that physical beauty is a limited and frangible coin -- if we aspire to look great in our seventies, it better come mostly from within.
When you look in that mirror today, pick your good features, and vamp them for all they are worth. Then fuggedaboutit -- let your confidence , sweet nature, and smarts shine.
That's what matters in the end.
Besides, it could be so distracting to have to boot guys or girls out of the way with their chocolates and invitations to dine when you are going out to lunch, or the restroom.
But boy, wouldn't it be fun to have had the chance?
PS -- Allen, I didn't see your comment until just now. Thank you. I just published it. You have always been a wonderful morale-booster -- a younger man discerning enough to appreciate women of a certain age, and kind enough to tell them!
Portrait of Sir Edmund Gosse by John Singer Sargent, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons