The Burden of Beauty

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As I recently wrote, there’s something totally liberating about giving up on disingenuous things. There’s a freedom in surrendering to the truth about ourselves. Being only one person, we can’t be a writer, scientist, adrenaline-junky, botanist, chef, broadcaster, truck driver, actor, entrepreneur and home decorator. We aren’t all thrifty, charismatic, athletic, introspective, organized, detail-oriented, funny and so on (sidenote–people who happen to be all of those things also happen to be annoying). Our differences enable each of us to focus on truer parts of ourselves, and enjoy the things we like and are good at. We discover our likes and abandon our dislikes; we realize our strengths and discard our weaknesses. Typically there is nothing tragic about this process. In fact it’s a critical, enjoyable part of creating our identities.

Andy List

Here is a sample list of things I do and do not do well/enjoy/identify with.

Unfortunately for women, there is one characteristic that we absolutely cannot dismiss from our identity, whether we actually have it or not. And that is beauty.

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I’m a Seven and that’s OK

The American way is to “never settle for less,” accept “nothing but the best,” and never “sell yourself short.” The American dream is built on the idea of high expectations and hard work. It’s a beautiful concept upon which dreams have been built and visions realized. After all, “you deserve the best,” don’t you?

Unfortunately this wonderful notion transforms into venom when applied to our self-image. Cosmetic surgeries are a reasonable effort toward a worthy goal, cosmetic aisles and beauty supply shops explode with products promising a bigger (or smaller) and better you, and hundreds of fashion magazines provide the right tips to make all this perfection possible—which of course, you are entitled to. Physical perfection has become a rational expectation. Which makes sense because you wouldn’t want to be “anything less than perfect”, or would you? Continue reading