Sunday, September 09, 2007

Learning Curves

The most beautiful person that I have ever laid my eyes on worked in this tea shop that my brother and I frequented on lazy autumn Sunday afternoons several years ago. Her hair strands fell into dark curls and framed her fair face. And she spoke in a rhythm that only hummingbirds could replicate. Her eyes were enchanting, almost alluring with its enigmatic pull. I don't know what it is about her that I found so blissfully grand as she is probably just as common as I and the next girl. My brother would often tease me that I had a girl-crush on her though he fully knows my wild attraction for the male species. Beauty has no gender, I retorted.

Growing up, I have always been just a little too something -- a little too tall, a little too pale, a little too fat, a little too ungraceful, a little too awkward. I never knew how to place myself because I was always just a little too much. I never thought of myself as pretty or beautiful as those words only belonged to the thin, slender and elegant. And I always had short hair. It would get snipped the minute the length touched my chin. I somehow acquired the idea that only those girls with long hair could be called beautiful and deserved happy endings. As a matter of fact, all the princesses and damsels in fairytales had long hair. This was how I preferred Snow White over the others. She had short black hair and not ostensibly beautiful; nonetheless ended up with Prince Charming. Maybe, just maybe, the norm could be broken.

I bloomed, as they say, later on in life. Perhaps a tad too late, because I didn't know what to do with myself. My hair grew for the first time as I needed something to protect my neck from the biting Bostonian winters. I couldn't afford the regular maintenance of a bob so I had to learn to like my long hair. I shed the baby fat due to the absence of a regular meal structure, and I got rid of the acne plaguing my skin, many thanks to advanced medicine. Braces came off and the insides of my mouth boasted of a perfect set of teeth capped with porcelain. I slowly managed my independence, grew a spine and all of a sudden, owned my own opinions. Well, I always have but this time, I actually feel no reluctance in letting them known. For a long time, I was a work under progress.

I knew when I was growing up that I wasn't a pretty face and though I had curves, they weren't the right ones. I banked on my intellect, my caustic personality and my wit to charm people. I thought that maybe, if I continued to be funny, I wouldn't have to worry about people not liking me. After all, didn't everyone love laughing? The only catch is that people would have to get to know me first before they can decide whether they liked me or not. I operated like this for many years.

Springtime in my life finally came through when I noticed for the first time that a guy was sizing me up. I was in a restaurant with my friends when I saw him looking over. I looked behind me to make sure he wasn't looking at anyone else. I felt terribly self-conscious and it's almost shameful that I didn't know what to do. I did what I thought best, absolutely nothing. The butterflies in the stomach stayed though and I felt a warm glow on my cheeks. So this was how it must feel being on the other side of the fence. It felt bloody great.

The next few years flew by and I had to learn to take care of myself -- I was a woman now (and how odd it felt to think that). I looked to my older sister and other friends to learn the ropes. Make-up, hair, skin care, perfumes, nails, any more? I found the regiment quite exhausting but I was told that was unfortunately necessary. And I obliged. I thought, this must be how insecurities are born.

However, I slowly realized that I didn't like having to fuss over physical beauty. Exhausting, isn't it? For some people, it came easier than others. I was one of those others. My hair never looked endearingly tousled when I wake up in the morning, my skin was never perfect enough for me to walk out my door without make-up, and my nails always looked like claws without a manicure. Why couldn't being funny and clever be enough? Why couldn't being an enjoyable companion do the trick? And why did we all have to feel the need to get people's validations that we are indeed attractive enough to be seen with them?

I decided that I liked it more that people were drawn to me because of how I am rather than how I looked. That gave me a better sense of affirmation that I'm on the right track. I focused more on being myself than creating an intricate exterior. I wanted to believe that I had enough inner radiance to take care of the front. Admittedly, I still don't know if I do up until this day, but my change in outlook increased my confidence and boosted my self-esteem. I realized which parts in life essentially mattered -- and which of them are the most beautiful. My sister's words always resonated in my head, "If you think you're beautiful, other people will think so as well." Mind over matter.

Nobody isn't perfect and life isn't ideal, no big secrets right there. But instead of focusing on making things perfect, it may be worth our whiles to actually look at the imperfections and see how they actually make us more perfect than we think. And looking closely, we will see that we are all masterpieces of unique artworks and designs.

To that lady whom I think is of pure beauty, I thank you for making me realize that it's possible to be gorgeous wearing an apron, with disheveled hair, and smudged mascara. And that true beauty cannot be bought over the counters (though they do help sometimes).


Blogger nel said...

well written ... enjoy reading those words again ... welcome back ... ;)

9:04 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Nice work Princess. Beautiful people are so nice to look at, beyond that it is all about what they are like.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Paige Jennifer said...


Awesome post. Just awesome!

11:43 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

so i guess i'm wasting my time with this diet :)

12:39 AM  
Blogger self taught artist said...

I have always felt nausious how people treat 'good looking' people like they are somehow better.

2:09 AM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

REAL beauty comes from within.

We all know people, who are not technically beautiful, but who brighten our day with their presence nontheless.

3:15 AM  
Blogger fifi said...

That made me smile!

You get to a point when you realise that actually, everybody is beautiful in some way.

Like you, though, I find myself warmed by the beauty of others, my eyes feasting on it.

I think your'e pretty gorgeous in both face and thought!

7:33 AM  
Blogger James said...

Fifi (above) kind of stole a march on what I was going to say...I have never met a woman who didn't have at least one thing that made her beautiful...

And as for clever and witty and an an enjoyable companion being enough, if you find the right person of course it is!!

9:13 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

Beautiful posting as well, Princess B! I think it has as much to do with what is inside, as out. Put a mediocre looking woman with a beautiful personality next to a physically beautiful woman with a nasty, cruel personality, and the mediocre woman always winds up looking incredibly pretty, regardless of how physically beautiful she is.

Thanks again for the thought provoking post!

10:47 AM  
Blogger drips of paint said...


& I do see you as very beautiful!
of course smart & funny as well.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Wow... a simple wow. You capture thoughts and sentiments so well. Although, perhaps, I'd never know the intricacies of mascara and all that because I'm a guy... I do admit that the charm in people comes mostly from within than without.

12:45 PM  
Blogger utopia said...

words right out from some corner of my heart. beautiful. beauty definitely lies in the eyes of the beholder and your sister is so right when she said if one feels beautiful the world perceives you as beautiful. I've seen some of the most ordinary looking women with a charming and magnetic personality outshine the good looking and so called sexy women.

1:19 PM  
Blogger meggie said...

I really enjoyed your post. I have been told, that old photos of myself look 'stunning' or gorgeous. Luckily, I was totally unaware of my so called physical 'beauty'. It has to be from within. But if often take years to learn this valuable lesson.
And now, I am old & possibly ugly. But inside I am still the same person who once was young & 'pretty'. Ludicrous.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Beauty is a bizarre concept when you examine it.


5:43 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

STILL waiting for that novel, Princess. LOL.
This is one of those posts that had me nodding again and again.
Especially the part about being "Too Much".
I was always too loud, too fat, too much. I had a guy tell me once that he couldn't date me unless I "toned it down". I lived on that mistaken advice for a long time. I tried to be demure, quiet, contained--quite laughable actually.
Not only did it never work, but I sold a part of me away to be something I wasn't.
It took a few years, but I've come to a peaceful place about who I am--what I am.
I love this post.

8:00 PM  
Blogger The Stormin Mormon said...

Some of the most beautiful women that I have ever met looked the best with absolutely no makeup. Something about them was amazing, and they needed no powder or paste to create it.

Now that I think about it, I won't have a girlfriend that won't go out in public without makeup. It's not a requirement all the time, but if she's not that comfortable with herself, I'm not that comfortable with her. (This probably stems from having dated some pretty vain women earlier in life.)

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Januarybitch said...

It does feel nice to lose the baby fat.
I still think people judge others by how they look and not by what they are. Personally, i am caught between the need to be treated as beautiful girls are treated no matter how i am dressed and the need to not care.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Vik said...

I think it is more about a subjective thingy, some certainly want to do the drill just to 'look' like the skimpy ones and a few do it because they got to do it to be called "Cool" :-)

I guess you should like the way you look of yours more than what others would say. Coz the world is full of narcissists not many would take time to appreciate the other person for how they looked :) So there you go..

2:53 AM  
Blogger AVIANA said...

hey there...

how r u?

don't worry about the girl crush thing...i've had several of those and i love men...

each one that i've had a crush on i befriended them..i was always enraptured by them...i started to think why did i feel this way...was i lesbian?

then i realized that it's because of the beauty they each had..the pull they had on men and how i wished i had that same power...

they were gorgeous...sometimes i wondered maybe i was a lesbian but then i realized at times i would try to emulate them, their actions, their clothing, their personalities...because it wasn't that i had a crush on them...i was in love with the reaction they got from others, in particular men...

i've learned from this..i've learned to focus more on me but it sure doesn't help me when i stand next to a couple of my female friends and watch guys' eyes quickly pass me over and aim straight at them..but i handle it better...i've got my music...

and we all know the power music has on EVERYONE....

p.s. i think i'm gonna write a post on this....thanks for the idea....

2:56 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

I hate all the artifice...Like me for who I am ...or go away! Great post....

4:29 AM  
Blogger Still searching said...

This is such an amazing post! This is exactly how I've been for yrs and yrs, and relied on wit and my brains to do the job for me, ignoring my looks because I thought they were nothing to write home about... and then slowly started discovering myself, and how little bit care went a long way.... but even today (and just as recently as this last weekend) I realize that I couldnt be that much bothered with my apperance as others are.. I coudlt put on make up every day just to step out of the house, thats just not me... and that there are people who admire me and my looks and my personality despite the fact that I don't look like any disney princess (despite my really long waist length hair!!)

Lovely post, u always seem to write about stuff that reflects my life too, which is strange but cool! Hahah!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Queen of Dysfunction said...

Beautifully written. Simply fabulous.

Just for the record though, I would take a funny friend over a beautiful friend any day.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous ruby said...

Great post! True beauty comes from within the person and I have noticed that with those who have bloomed later in life that they tend to be more unaware of it and more down to earth about it.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

Nobody’s perfect, thank God for that! Perfection is boring cuz then you have nothing to work on. Everyone can improve. I’m glad that the lady at the tea shop inspired you, but I have to say, your sister nailed it when she said:

"If you think you're beautiful, other people will think so as well."

2:13 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

th most beautiful lady Iv seen is in a painting. It was a 17th century pinting of 'Shakuntala' by one Ravi Varma, a legendary Malayalee painter.
I know its crazy saying, but you wont believe how life like th picture is and its jus too perfect...
thats not too mean I havent seen beautifull gals live, jus that they werent as mesmerising as this pic!

and about being fashion conscious, I think Im not jus because one, its too much of a bother, and two, it doesnt come naturally to me! and I dont have anything that resembles a fashion consciousness.

3:07 PM  
Blogger James said...

Hi Princess,
I have a question for you that I hope you will answer...I was discussing you with a friend (you have commented out of the blue on both our blogs, that's how I found your blog)

My question is, how come you never reply directly to any comments? in my experience of bloggers that is quite unusual. Maybe you like to be mysterious?
Anyway I hope you break silence over this one.

take it easy Princess,

James in England

7:30 PM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

I knew 2 brothers once. Guy and Robert. They weren't twins but they looked almost exactly alike. Robert had some kind of problem, he was bipolar or something and he used to do bizarre things like walking down the highway in the middle of the night playing chicken. He was really troubled. Guy on the other hand had a very nice personality.

You percieved Guy as being handsome and Robert as very unattractive, yet they looked almost exactly alike.

11:02 PM  
Blogger nasia said...

i m still in the boy looking at me .. state..
and i m dyin waiting for the day.. when i realise wat i think is more imp than hw i look..

10:32 PM  
Blogger Sigma said...

Very nice and engaging post. simply wonderful.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Confessions of a Born Procrastinator said...

Very nicely written I must say...
Sure beauty maybe an attracting factor, but, its the inner being we all fall in love with... beauty cudn play any sort of game in that dept... :)

4:33 PM  

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