Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Brown Hair

“I had no idea you were that old.”

I heard this twice this past weekend, both by 24 year old guys. The first time, these actual words were spoken, and the second time, it was paraphrased.

Granted, both times it was followed up by a softer comment about “not looking my age,” but I think it was only after my stunned silence and wide-eyed stare at such bluntness.

And it still made me feel sort of like shit.

But I brushed it off, put on my cute party dress and didn’t really think much about this until today, when the bad feelings about it crept up.

The issue of my appearance has always been a sore spot.

I look more like my dad, who, by definition, was a man. Hence, I have more masculine features than feminine. I have never been considered cute, not really ever in my life. In fact, when I was a junior in high school, and my sister was a freshman at my same school, all the boys in my grade wanted to date her, and still had no idea who I was. When I was a senior, my boyfriend’s high school baseball coach called me ugly.

So needless to say, I have never really felt all that pretty.

In my family, we were assigned roles – of the three girls, I was the bookworm studious one who liked to eat too many donuts on Saturday mornings. I was always a little overweight, had unmanageable hair, combination skin, and hips before any of the other girls knew what they were. My friends were always popular and beautiful, and though I was part of this group, I was never considered to be in the same league. And when you are in 8th grade, or high school, being pretty and liked by boys is a big effing deal. In fact, it’s kinda like the WHOLE deal.

I guess at some point, I decided to make up for my lack of beauty by doing things – I earned straight A’s, I went to graduate school and earned a doctorate, I am training for Ironman, etc. If I can’t be pretty, well, at least I can set myself apart through doing things.

When I got into my mid and late 20s, this appearance thing never really subsided, but I think I sort of grew into my looks a little more. My body seemed to even out (thanks to my newfound love of running), and my face didn’t seem, well, so big or manly. I never LOVED my body, despite what Oprah told me, but I stopped hating it and trying to destroy it like I did throughout most of my teen years and early twenties.

But today, for some reason, this reached a head. And I know why – I was scrolling through the pictures that I posted at the wedding, and realized – I still look really masculine. And then I came across a completely separate picture of a 20-something girl (not from the wedding), all cute and perky and blond and perfect with just-as-perfect girly features, white teeth and huge smile – and it hit me.

I will never be “cute.” I will never be the pretty chick with straight blond hair (good for flipping when flirting) cherub cheeks (good for blushing when flirting) and a button nose (good for wrinkling when flirting). I will never have smooth, milky skin or bright blue eyes. I will never have the petite, taut body with smooth thighs, firm round ass, or perky boobs. I will never be the girl in the bar that smiles and laughs at all the right things, like she’s carefree, silly and knows she’s got the attention of every guy in the room.

I will always have dark skin and dark curly hair. I will always have hips and an ass and the occasional break out (thanks mom). I will always have a longish, pointy nose and a huge forehead (thanks dad). I will always rock the saddle bags, and love handles. I am watching as my once-full boobs slowly start to fall. And I will probably always wear a furried brow or scowl more than a carefree smile, which will always cause wrinkles on my forehead.

Most of the time, I don’t give a shit about this. Most of the time, I am aware of my own insecurities, but I can deal, and tell myself I am more than just a face. Most of the time, I can look in the mirror and not loathe the body or face staring back.

Today was not one of those days.

And I hate that. I hate that I still care, I hate that it still bothers me that I am not that cute blond, I hate that I am jealous and insecure about that blond. I hate it all.

And I hate it because, cognitively, I know I have so much going for me that makes me good, maybe even better, than this blond. I know that I would murder her in intellectual conversation or witty one-liners, or if comparing lists of life accomplishments. And I know that I will never need to chase a man to validate my self worth, and that I have already established myself as independent and successful.

Then why do I want to be her?