Growing up in the preppy/conservatively-dressed state of Massachusetts, among a family of academics, and attending a small religious high-school that promoted religion and high achievement, you can imagine how little importance beauty had (or so I thought) in my life. Sure, I loved fashion and poring over Seventeen magazine, but at the end of the day, concern for one’s appearance was seen as frivolous.
In fact, believing I was the least brilliant child of the family (you have to understand, my brother in sister were on the math team, skipped grades, attended the best universities, and the list goes on), I wished I could trade some of my looks for some additional “smart” cells.
Fast forward 20+ years later and I’ve gained more perspective on myself and the world around me. Of course caring for our beauty doesn’t make someone dumber than the next person. Just come to NYC and look around! The smartest, most amazing chicks on the planet live here and the majority look pretty frickin’ awesome! In fact, according to research, it’s probably a great strategic move to look spiffy if you want to get promoted or a higher salary. (So why Forever 21 makes shirts like the ones depicted in the images above astounds me!)
Nevertheless those early feelings still haunt me, especially when I return to my childhood home every so often as I did a few weekends ago.
During my visit I lugged the heavy September issues of my favorite fashion mags with me even though I had read them already so that my mom could benefit from them (whilst an academic herself, she still cares about her wardrobe). During my trip my sister and her family came to visit. After lunch my sister was at the table with me when I asked my mom if she wanted to read the magazines. Perhaps I asked her more than once and, consequently, may have sounded a wee bit pushy. This provoked my sister to make some comment about leaving my mother alone. A few minutes later, my sister kiddingly said how it amazes her that we were born from the same parents given my strong interest in beauty and fashion.
Well, I was pissed. In retrospect, what she said wasn’t necessarily negative or coming from a disdainful place. It was just her perspective on how we’re different. But the feelings of inadequacy flooded back. I’m the foolish, pretty one caring about petty issues like fashion.
Once I returned to NYC and my everyday life, I left those feelings and notions, i.e., pretty = stupid, behind me. But I wonder if they’ll ever truly leave me, no matter how many posts and articles I write on the value of beauty in our world.
I guess I have another 20 years (and more) to find out.