“Thin. Pretty. Big tits... Your basic nightmare.”
Marie couldn’t have said it better. “When Harry Met Sally” taught me a lot of things, but none more pressing than the arrival of beautiful women in my life.
They are indeed my nightmare. My compadres, my sisters, my friends, yet -- indeed -- my worst f*cking nightmare. And these beautiful women are everywhere, trust me… I’m a woman and I see them every day.
I see them running across the street, slouching in line at the deli, eating at the table across from me. Sitting at the bar, standing at the door and stretching in yoga.
They’re the reason I have a constant knot in my back and a twitch in my left eye. They’re the reason I secretly worry about the texture of my hair and the size of my bust. They’re the reason I feel insecure leaving the house without makeup. They’re the reason I’m tired all the time.
Tired of wondering how many girls on the subway are hotter than I am. Tired of worrying if I should eat that bagel and tired of second-guessing every shirt I put on. Tired of wishing I had certain features or didn’t have specific “flaws.” I’m so damn tired of the pretty race.
I’ve spent the past years in a constant state of stress and worry, not because I’m scared of being ugly, but because if I’m not pretty or cute or hot, what will my definer be?
For centuries, women have been bogged down with the plague of the “one attribute” definition. This one attribute always revolves around their physical appearance and it’s what keeps smart, witty and intelligent women unaccredited and unappreciated.
It’s what keeps the accomplishments and skills of hardworking women, unnoticed and unimportant. Because as we all know, women with great personalities are always discriminated against for their looks.
If a woman has a great personality then she mustn’t be beautiful, right? At least that’s how Bruno Kirby believed women to be in the famous scene with Billy Crystal. In his mind, if a woman’s beautiful, there’s no need for her to have a good personality, right?
This is where the problem lies when it should be the other way around. If a woman has a great personality, she shouldn’t need to be beautiful. Instead, we’ve decided that if a woman is unattractive, she has failed in some way. A woman’s good personality is only a consolation prize in the pretty race she lost.
When did a woman’s worth become solely dependent on her looks? When did her definer have to include a mental picture? When did attributes that will last long past looks fade away before getting a chance to come out?
When did women have to acquiesce to this standard of beautiful or nothing?
A woman isn’t just beautiful any more than a man is just tall. She’s got a complexity of attributes and traits that define her worth and her status much more than her features, and it’s time we start looking at women as more than just beautiful.
Beauty is unquantifiable
Because beauty cannot be set to one standard, there is no such thing as one type of beauty.
It exists in more than just symmetrical faces and petite features. It lies in a person's soul, the way he or she radiates from the inside, out.
It’s why people who have great personalities become more beautiful the more you get to know them. It’s also why people who are "classically" beautiful are not always seen that way by people who have known them for who they really are.
It’s this elusive status that means nothing because beauty cannot be defined until someone is truly understood. Beauty is subjective, changing from person to person until everyone is just another beautiful person to someone else.
If everyone is beautiful to someone, describing a woman as just beautiful is giving her as basic a definer as the color of her hair.
Beauty is something we’ve made important
Beauty is a standard we’ve created. It’s a position we’ve deemed as first and most important. Making women feel like losers in a race they never asked to run in. They are standing on podiums with “hot” “cute” and “beautiful” as first, second and third, crying over a medal they never wanted to compete for.
But why does beautiful trump intelligent? Why does beautiful sit at the top of the tower? Why does every woman with a great personality feel like she’s always second rate?
This phenomenon is perfectly encapsulated in “When Harry Met Sally,” as Jess and Harry discuss society’s preoccupation with beauty over personality.
Jess: When someone is not that attractive, they're always described as having a good personality. Harry: Look, if you would ask me, 'What does she look like?' and I said, 'She has a good personality.' That means she's not attractive. But just because I happened to mention that she has a good personality, she could be either. She could be attractive with a good personality, or not attractive with a good personality. Jess: So which one is she? Harry: Attractive. Jess: But not beautiful, right?
That last line crushes every woman’s soul.
Unfortunately, we've all felt the sting of incompleteness. As great as Harry described Sally, she will always be thought of by Jess as “attractive, but not beautiful.”
Her rate reduced to a sub-par categorization. Yet even if she were "just beautiful," she'd still be reduced to a definition that hardly encapsulates her true being or the myriad complexities that make her indescribable.
Photo Courtesy: Instagram