The Problem with Beauty

I just watched “Bombshell,” on Netflix. It’s about the life of Hedy Lamarr, the actress I always maintained was the most beautiful one of all. It turns out that she possessed a discerning, scientific mind. For instance, during WWII, she invented a communications system that today’s WIFI is based on. But always, her breath-taking beauty got in the way of people taking her intellectual mind seriously.

All sorts of judgments and assumptions are made about people who are good looking. In the cinema, beautiful people are usually depicted as conniving and underhanded. With an air of superiority, they manipulate people to gain advantage. The beautiful woman is often shown gazing fondly at herself in a mirror. While admiring herself as she primps, she plans the details of her next conquest. What kind of role-model is this?

Beauty and intellect are accidents of one’s genes. The same doors that opened because of Hedy Lamarr’s beauty, also imprisoned her in a narrower definition of who she was. But she accepted her beauty and all it brought. In my experience, being fair to look at has not opened any doors. That’s probably because, unlike Hedy, I’ve always been ill-at-ease with being attractive.

My looks seemed always to target me for unwanted aggressive advances, often putting me in danger (boundary and abuse issues). I never flaunted my looks and seldom went out in public alone. I took pains to be nice and unassuming, but insecure girl friends or wives still considered me a threat. Jealousy made them regard me with suspicion and they made me feel unwelcome in their company.

I mostly kept to myself, or huddled underneath the protective arm of a boy friend and later, husband. Professionally, I did not fare much better. As an artist, it’s always challenging to find work, but if I landed a good freelance job, it must have been because I had slept around. Untrue stories questioning my morality cropped up that were very hurtful. The meanness of the gossip really got to me. What had I ever done to deserve the treatment I received in my younger, socially awkward days?

As a consequence, I retreated and spent my life hidden away as an introvert. I covered myself in frumpy, oversized clothes, and wore baggy sweaters. I did not embellish. I used no make-up. I covered my body like I was apologizing for my existence. I totally hid my radiance, my beauty, my light.

Never again do I want to be a victim of lust, jealousy or lies by people who cannot take responsibility for their own feelings, who claim it’s my fault for making them feel whatever they feel. The only time I felt safe enough to dress up, look great, be radiant and dance in public was within the company of my husband.

  *   *   *    *   *

Now it’s 2018. I realize I have never owned my beauty.

Now that age has given me wrinkles and whitening hair, with gravity tugging my less-resilient skin, it’s time I take a look in the mirror to have a peek at the truth. What has my all-natural, tattered jeans, baggy sweater, no-make-up style ever done for me (besides saving me an ton in cosmetic and clothing costs)?

I now perceive, the “all natural” hippie persona I chose to embrace has just been another way of remaining invisible. I’ve been using it as a shield, of playing small, and not owning the spotlight.

To achieve my soul’s purpose, Spirit needs me to actively embrace my totality. I’ve always been quite willing to look at the negative aspects of myself, but beauty… not so much. Now, it’s time to take the next step, even if that step means to jump into the fire.

Jumping into the fire — I suddenly know what that means — to have the courage to face something that truly terrifies me! My fear of being seen makes me camera shy and explains my reluctance to video record myself. (My gosh — people will actually see me…) Video pod-casting is my next hurdle.

To totally embrace my feminine self means to acknowledge my natural beauty and all that entails. That would automatically make it impossible to remain unseen. It’s an odyssey.

“Beauty is an asset, just like physical prowess, charisma, brains or emotional intelligence. The key with any gift is in the way that you use it. It doesn’t define you as a person. Rather, it’s an asset to be used judiciously and with an understanding of how it is just a small part of who you are.” Dale Archer

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As I’m writing, I suddenly realize it’s a little before noon on the summer solstice. Maybe these words have more significance than I thought. Thus, my challenge becomes my gift.

© 2018 DARLENE

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One thought on “The Problem with Beauty

  1. Kevin

    Yes, it’s an excellent documentary! I’d read about Hedy’s scientific work before, but this new film added many details and also placed her life in a fuller context as a beautiful entertainer who also had a brilliant conceptual mind.

    Reply

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