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Are you as beautiful as you can stand to be?

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Is there a connection between being beautiful and being brave enough to own that beauty; to have people look at you and be the center of attention? I ask that because more than once when I was getting my looks together, something would happen to undo that. People who are beautiful or handsome have people looking at them all day long and projecting stuff onto them good and bad. I’m not saying that I’m beautiful but when I was starting to look good I’d be surprised by the irrational anger and jealousy from other females. I always got along well with other women so that knocked me for a loop. I had to get into my forties to take certain kinds of coldness and pissiness as compliments. Not that that happens a lot but when it does I don’t let it bother me. It’s a problem when the people stirred up by you have some kind of power over you. Thankfully I’m not working for anyone, but it’s just bad when I get banned from Asian restaurants because the owners are jealous of my clothes and my bustline.

I still have a lot of problems with my looks and I wonder how much of this is a deeply buried fear of attention? Attention looks so good from the outside but when you’re in it, you’re in a sea of faces all looking at you with their expectations. You have to be fairly tough to play that for your benefit rather than getting sucked down by it. You have to be in your forties, by which time it’s getting late.

I wonder about people who are incredibly beautiful. How can they stand to be that way in this world? Are they tougher than anyone? Are they protected by something I’m not? Are they blessed or are they just not afraid? How do you get to be beautiful?

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About Cerulean

  • Madina

    I have to stop. But so many ideas have been rushing to me since I read this, and I’m really glad I did.

    Also, there are different types of beauty.
    Some girls have that really sweet, pretty look — almost like a sweet, cute little puppy dog (nothing negative intended.) Very wholesome and very pleasant.

    Other girls have that super hot, bomb-shell beauty. I think different types of hotness yield different types of attention. Being SEXY vs being cute!

    And I think they have to be dealt with in different ways.

    This could become a science. ;P


  • Madina


    You asked questions yourself, but I fear people did not directly answer them; but your article did provide a nice spring board for a very interesting discussion.

    I think in some ways, beautiful people are tougher, either because the situation makes them that way, or perhaps it’s that (being beautiful) and a combination of other factors. Or perhaps, some people who don’t have as many advantages in life, see their beauty as their avenue for success. They don’t have the luxury to stop & feel sorry for their beautiful selves; they have to look toward the future, and to determine how they can use their resources (beauty)in the present to yield the desired outcome.

    In a way, you could say that being beautiful, being looked at, is aking to being a leader. As with leaders, some people are natural born leaders, ready to accept responsibility and attention as if it were their birtright. Others have issues with it. Perhaps we have to come to a certain place in our lives where we hae to make an assessment of the situation, our goals, and ourselves to determine how we can step up to the plate and deliver so that we can have the type of lives we desire to live. If that means becoming tougher and smiling more at all the eyes that look your way, hey, it’s a small price to pay, for a life you’d like to live as happy.

    I still have to chew over the new ideas I have gained from this forum.

    Thank you for writing this.


    (Forgive me if my original post was somewhat haphazardly written and a little incoherent in nature, as I was writing rapidly and trying to formulate the torrent of thoughts that your insights inspired.)

  • Madina

    You know, I think this is one of the most amazing articles that I have ever read — in that it’s honest — and it makes me feel, that finally, I’m not crazy! For a while, I have felt this tension with respect to being — not a gorgon (i.e. okay to look at), perhaps. I really liked the following
    “Are you as beautiful as you can stand to be?
    Is there a connection between being beautiful and being brave enough to own that beauty; to have people look at you and be the center of attention?”
    I was really having problems with the added attention I’ve gotten since I’ve grown up. In high school, I would throw some clothes on, brush my teeth, and dash to school. Safe to say, I wasn’t winning beauty pagents. I don’t know that I was “ugly” – I just didn’t really care. As you get older, sometime life, situations, jobs, dictate that that type of presentation is just not appropriate- so somehow you just look good. Anyhoo, so it was really hard for me, to deal with the subtle evilness of girls (who were supposed to be close to me, some of them and some random), the over-sexed attention of boys, the judgment of some people who again were supposed to be close to me…and basically everything that came with it. Perhaps some grow up being beautiful and naturally know how to work it, or have a different psyche. For me, as a young girl, I was always just doing my homework and taking care of academic things b/c I wanted to have a stable life (career/ source of income) and I remember thinking I never want to be a girl who is just beautiful (and who needs so much that she can’t provide for herself.) I guess I just didn’t want to be vulnerable. Anyhoo, so people give me attention; good and bad. I know some of my friends work their hotness to get whatever they want. And these lines:

    “Are you as beautiful as you can stand to be?
    Is there a connection between being beautiful and being brave enough to own that beauty; to have people look at you and be the center of attention?”

    It is difficult to be looked at and even sometimes cat called. (I know it’s nice SOMETIMES, to be reminded that you’re not a gorgon, but sometimes its downright uncomfortable, it’s rude and disrespectful.) Basically, the conclusion that I’m coming to, is that I have to accept that I’m a hot girl, whether I want to or not. I mean, if people are going to perceive me that way, then I have to understand it. And if some girls (or guys whom I choose not to date) dislike me, I mean if I have to deal with that bullshit, then I shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about, hey, getting w h a t e v e r I can. So, I think I’m gonna start trying to use it to my benefit, rather than seeing it as this torment. I know beauty is a curse, but I’m gonna try to pull out the good parts for myself, and as someone already commmented, use their friends as examples, and use it to my benefit. I guess I always felt guilty about it, being the person that I am, and thought it was a form of manipulation. But if it makes them happy to see me smile, then they feel happy, and I get what I wnat. then everyone wins, no?


    having the heart to own it, perhaps that’s what it’s all about.

  • Wow, that was so powerful. Very well observed. I’m thinking like that a lot too. A lot of things have happened beyond my control to ruin my looks and it SUCKS! I HATE it! I find more things wrong every day. Don’t want to explain but it is horrifying and I feel trapped and sickened.

    It does seem so unjust that some people get the confidence and social acceptability while other people have to worry and scheme just to try to be socially acceptable. It’s a huge gulf and life on one side of it sucks.

    Thanks for your posting. I didn’t see it until just now.

  • Rach

    As I observe beautiful people, its just so obvious they have the better end of the deal- they are admired, awed, respected and envied- people want to be seen with them, and known to be in their circle, I’ve also noticed the amount of power they overflow with- like they are royalty- people will listen to whatever they say and do for them whatever they ask just to have the security of remaining in that high status- even if they themselves are not the beautiful person, they would prefer be the least in that group then be in a group of less value- yes- beautiful people hae it so much better than the rest of us and it sux- its just not fair!!! Why can we not have a choice to look jhow we want to? Its bestowed graciously upon some- yet why do they deserve it anymore than an yone else??? I HATE IT!!! I HATE IT!!! Sometines I Just can’t stand it anymore- I would like to kill myself- even if that seems extreem!!!. They have the right to be confident and to love themselves- they have worth and dignity!!!

  • Nancy

    Oh, well thanks, but I didn’t say that to whine about my past & put out a private pity party in public; sorry if that’s the way it read. I just MEANT it to be a commentary on how pretty will trump just about anything else, even with one’s nearest and dearest, so to speak, even over more substantial qualities, when one is dealing with the human psyche, and shallow ones in particular (I have no illusions about my mother). Shoot, if it weren’t that, it would be something else I’d be coping with 😉 so I don’t bother about it much anymore. But thanks, anyway. I will check out your site ref. Thanks.

  • I’m sorry Nancy. That’s tough.

    Wrote an article about eating disorders, perfectionism and the need for affirmations and praise for kids. To see it cut and paste:


    or go to the index of my posts here.

  • Nancy writes: But none of the intellectual achievements ever mattered, because I wasn’t pretty or popular. Boy, did this do a number on my psyche I still struggle with!

    Reply: That is a danmed shame, Nancy. And I know what that must have done to your impressionable self back then. Fortunately, you have made great strides toward working that out. Recently, I wrote a little piece on BC about going back and talking to yourself at different times in your life. I wish you could go back now and and tell young Nancy what you know now.
    It would be the best therapy anyone could get. I know it would be true for me.



  • Nancy

    Oops – too early in the morning, I’m not editing: line should read “…especially my OWN mother…” Sorry.

  • Nancy

    When it happens to someone you like, who was made miserable previously, it’s just MAGIC! Like winning the lottery or #1 at the Olympics.


    Beauty can attract my attention, but it takes more than that to keep my attention.

    Nancy, I have heard stories like the one above a few times before. Hopefully I will one day be able to attend a high school reunion and see how people turned out.

  • Nancy

    Weeeelll…Paris DOES look extremely good in black bathing suits while washing cars; I could stand to look like that.

    Seriously, I am on the other end of the scale, and I can’t begin to recount the hurts I’ve suffered from NOT being pretty or beautiful, including from my other mother, who desperately wanted a daughter who was a cheerleader, popular, the Queen of the Prom, with BMOC boyfriends galore. Instead she got a National Merit Scholar. But none of the intellectual achievements ever mattered, because I wasn’t pretty or popular. Boy, did this do a number on my psyche I still struggle with! Alas, her POV was/is also the World’s, for the most part: the glory & good things go to the beautiful and glamorous, and not those with other gifts, in general. I guess this is why I always like ‘different’ kinds of pretty: Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand’s nose, Whoopie Goldberg (who has a stunning African loveliness, IMO – dig those cheekbones!), etc.

    I gotta say for the beauties, tho, that one of the most gratifying things ever happened in my life, was when my ugly-duckling friend from H.S. grew up and came to our first 10-yr HS reunion. Dissed and mocked in HS for her skinny frame, lank hair, and overlarge eyes and mouth, when she finally developed while at college, she turned into a stunning beauty: the skinny frame became lithe and elegant, with just the right amount of curves; the facial bones finally caught up with the huge eyes and mouth, and they became gorgeous, sultry, sexy; the lank hair became waist-length thick silk. I was so happy for her, I cried. She easily made everyone else there look like cows, and walked off the victor. I just wish it could have been me, too, but alas! no such luck. Oh, well. vicarious is good, too, and I was almost as happy for her as I would have been for me.

  • There’s some strong feelings there. This topic has got people thinking.

    I don’t think I’m beautiful per se but I have some attributes that set some people off. I’ll just have to have a T shirt printed up:
    “Don’t hate me because I’m Bootyful”

    Wishing everyone all the beauty they want, need or desire.

  • Can’t help but recall a song from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line:

    Mama always said I’d be very attractive
    When I grew up, when I grew up.
    ‘Different,’ she said, with a special something
    And a very, very personal flair.
    And though I was eight or nine,
    Though I was eight or nine,
    Though I was eight or nine,
    I hated her.

    Now, ‘different’ is nice, but it sure isn’t ‘pretty,’
    Pretty is what it’s about.
    I never met anyone who was ‘different.’
    Who couldn’t figure that out?
    So, beautiful, I’d never live to see.
    But it was clear,
    If not to her,
    Well, then, to me…

    That everyone is beautiful
    At the ballet.
    Every prince has got to have his swan.
    Yes, everyone is beautiful
    At the ballet…. hey…
    I was pretty
    At the ballet.

    I was and am different. And yes, I studied ballet for years. But luckily, I got over that crap. Years of dance taught me that beauty isn’t a look — it’s a feeling within oneself and the true quality of a human being. The rest of the world and its definitions can go to hell, AFAIC.

    Personally, I think most people the masses deem to be gorgeous are boring. (And Paris Hilton, IMO, is hideously ugly. Sorry, but I just don’t get the whole Paris bit.)

    Like the character in the song, I was told as a child that I could and would never be considered beautiful. In time, the realization hit that the standards used by the masses were just plain stupid, kinda like the masses themselves. There are a few humans I find wildly beautiful who also have mass appeal. Seeing an intersection between my opinion and that of the masses used to trouble me greatly, seeing as how I run screaming from anything the mainstream likes. But upon inspection, it always turns out that there is something else about the objects of my admiration — heart, compassion, kindness, intelligence, decency, integrity — that grabs my attention, that makes me see them as beautiful. Hugh Jackman is a fine specimen of human being, but it is his talent, his philathropic work, his loyalty to his spouse and son, and his self-effacing manner that attracts me to him more than anything else.

    Frankly, on those exceedingly and purposefully rare events where I am done up in drag — job interviews or formal events or whatnot — and people who don’t know me tell me that I look beautiful or striking (ick), or exotic (the worst!), or whatever, they drop in my estimation because of their obvious shallowness. All I can do is pity them.

    “Different” is nice, but it sure isn’t “pretty.” “Different” is better. It connotes depth, it connotes real beauty and courage and strength. For the life of me, I can not imagine why anyone would be jealous of some conventionally “beautiful” person or why someone would see “beauty” as the mainstream defines it as being the be all and end all. And I just don’t grok the jealousy thing. Why in hell would anyone with a brain be jealous? And of what?

    If you are one of those jealous, shallow ones sucked in by the lunacy of the mainstream, some advice from a song sung by a sadly deluded young woman portrayed in A Chorus Line:

    Have it all done!
    Honey, take my word.
    Grab a cab, c’mon
    See the wizard on
    Park and Seventy-Third
    For tits and ass.
    Orchestra and balcony.
    What they want is whatcha see.
    Keep the best of you,
    Do the rest of you.
    Pits or class, I have never seen it fail,
    Debutante or chorus girl or wife.
    Tits and ass, yes, tits and ass
    Have changed my life!

    Worked really well for the beautiful Michael Jackson…

    Seriously, I feel bad for the author. No one should hate her because she’s “beautiful.” (In quotes not out of disrespect, but I know nothing about her as a person so I don’t know if she is beautiful in any way that goes along with my definition.) If I were her, I would feel sorry for the jealous people so caught up in mainstream standards and just go on about her business.

    An alternate suggestion (certainly one more beneficial than going under knives) for the jealous (and for everyone, really): Take the old Ray Stevens chestnut to heart if it helps you cope.

    Everyone is beautiful in their own way,
    Like a starry summer night
    Or a snow-covered winter’s day.

    And if the world doesn’t consider you beautiful, tell the world to fuck off.

  • Well, get some huge falsies, a really cute outfit, and watch the fur fly! It really all happened that way.

  • Cerulean writes: That’s how they do it, they just constantly give you shit and hostility. I can’t put all the evidence down but over the years I’ve put all this together.

    Reply: I hereby award you, Cerulean, the 54th Annual Ronald Albright Memorial Award in the category of “weirdest experience from dining” ever. It may be forever renamed the Cerulean Award after that episode. That is truly bizarre!!



  • Ayu

    I agree with Margaret when she said, “Beauty is the package, the results of genetics that can be played up or down depending upon whether or not one wishes to be the center of attention.”
    About the Asian females..well I’m an Asian myself, but I don’t think what had happened to you in that restaurant wouldn’t be an everyday things in other Asian restaurants, Cerulean. I think it was simply her temperament which made her treat you differently, and had nothing to do with her race.

  • Nancy

    Sounds like this woman had major insecurity issues from the get-go. I’ve never heard of any restauranteur that would tolerate anything that jeopardized their business, wife or no. How bizarre, feeling she had to compete with a customer!

  • I’m sorry dietdoc, I guess that was thoughtless.

    Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. Good conversation.

    Very well written contribution again by Nancy. The restaurant thing, well Asian females from asia are not necessarily restrained about how they express rivalry or jealousy. In two restaurants that I used to frequent there were a series of increasingly frosty, irrational and disturbing exchanges coupled with other evidences that I basically had to stop going there. I was a good customer and a good tipper. In one restaurant the head waitress, whose husband’s family owned the restaurant just couldn’t stand me. She was the prettiest woman working there (and she did the hiring.) She got the attention. The funny thing was no one in the restaurant was paying any attention to me. I noticed that she was just always frosty and rude to me and it started to get worse and worse. I also noticed that she would turn up with clothes imitating mine. More and more stuff happened designed to make me not come back and I finally did. That’s how they do it, they just constantly give you shit and hostility. I can’t put all the evidence down but over the years I’ve put all this together.

  • Nancy

    I’ve had the interesting experience of having known 3 stunningly beautiful women and 2 men. There seem to be 2 mindsets among those possessing this kind of beauty: Kim & Leon both exploited it for whatever it was worth, accentuating it w/constant grooming, clothes, etc. Bad vibes from other persons didn’t seem to bother them, they racked it all up to jealousy (probably correctly) because they got just about whatever they wanted: the best jobs, the best invitations, the best prices for new cars, even! It was astounding what got ‘thrown’ at them gratis just because they were beautiful, and they took it as their due. Kinda reminds me of current pop stars, models, movie stars, etc.: it’s part of their stock in trade and they trade on it w/out restraint, aka Paris Hilton. Anne, Diana, and Robert, on the other hand, were equally gorgeous, and also groomed themselves to look their best – and they did get a lot of the bennies from being gorgeous. But as far as personal life was concerned, they couldn’t get dates to save their lives – all the “normal” people were scared to talk to them, let alone ask them out – and they had an equally hard time making real friends, altho they had a lot of vultures flocking around to take advantage of what could be gotten from them directly, or thru being around them. I don’t know what the difference was, except perhaps attitude? Something intangible that 2 of them had, and the others didn’t?

    Asian restaurants wouldn’t let you in? Because of your clothes & bustline? Do you mean as a customer, or as an employee, or what? I’ve never heard of such a thing as any restaurant turning out a decently dressed person – as long as they weren’t naked or barefoot. That’s really odd. What were the circumstances – now I’m really curious?

  • “Is there a connection between being beautiful and being brave enough to own that beauty; to have people look at you and be the center of attention?”

    That depends upon whether you are referring to the package or its presentation.

    Beauty is the package, the results of genetics that can be played up or down depending upon whether or not one wishes to be the center of attention. Even supermodels can go unnoticed if they go out in public without make-up or jewelery, wearing mundane outfits (ie. the ubiquitous baggy jeans and t-shirt look) and unstyled hair.

    Glamor is the presentation, the result of having learned how to use various tricks of make-up, hairstyling, clothing and accessories to accentuate natural assets and to de-emphasize defects. Average-looking people can get a lot of attention if they know how to apply certain techniques of make-up, dress and hair.

  • Cerulean writes: You have to be fairly tough to play that for your benefit rather than getting sucked down by it. You have to be in your forties, by which time it’s getting late.

    Reply: Hey! I resent that remark!

    [Actually, I just wish I was in my 40s again, with the requirement that I would know what I know now, etc.]

    Interesting question, Cerulean.


  • Eric Olsen


  • Thanks for your comments. It is like fear of success except that for young women there are also a lot of predatory elements out there that want to make use of them or their beauty.

  • jarboy

    a girl on the bachelor recently said, “it’s hard for me cuz some people are very racist against beautiful people.” if one is to believe this undoubtedly intelligent young lady, beauty is a racial designation (though i’ve never seen it on a survey).
    generally i find that people who walk and carry themselves in a way that says, “i think i look good, but it’s not that big a deal to me” are the most attractive.

  • Eric Olsen

    Grace Slick said “you’re only pretty as you feel”

  • It is a good question, Cerulean, and of course leads into the larger one, which is why we insist on loading physical appearance with all that extra baggage. It’s nothing more than the luck of the genetic draw and doesn’t represent any accomplishment on the part of the beautiful. Real beauty is, of course, on the inside, but people rarely bother to explore the inside if they don’t like the way the outside looks.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent and interesting question – the answer is, I’m certain, tied in to such issues as generalized fear of success, self-image, community values (Hollywood vs Little Rock), among others