In light of my efforts to be more emotionally transparent and forthcoming, I must address the following:
I realized a few years ago that I suffer from a rather serious condition, a duplicitous affliction some call it. I’ve been told only time, quarantine, or drastic medical procedures can reverse this genetic malaise that I’m plagued with. Unfortunately, none of those options are quite feasible so I’m left to wait it out.
My super serious problem… is that I’m pretty. Now before you hurl your computer at the wall in disgust, please hear me out. My daily reality is fraught with both psychological and tangible missteps of which there seem to be no end in sight.
Until I moved to the East Coast immediately before college, it was a struggle for me to even maintain the idea that I wasn’t ugly. I attribute that to various factors ranging from constantly being the only black friend, to torment by mean girls (who I could never have fathomed were threatened by me) in high school. When I was finally able to consider that I might possibly be mildly attractive, it was a very short-lived thrill.
I suddenly went from being and feeling invisible to having much more attention than I was used to, and I quickly realized, wanted. I’d always envied the girls whom everyone wanted to date, but I wish I could’ve foreseen the hatred the mere sight of my face would invoke in other women once I began to come into my own. I’ve been snubbed, ridiculed and threatened because of assumptions people make about me based on my cloyingly symmetrical visage and my rather self-possessed nature. Suffice it to say, college was hard. I can honestly say that I’ve never benefited from the mythical ease with which beautiful people glide through life. Quite the contrary, and numerous studies have shown that my experience is not unique.
Fast forward to my adult life in which I’m still paying off a feckless bachelor’s degree which has served me little, while I attempt to make a name for myself as a performing artist. I like to joke that I’m some sort of renaissance women and while I excel at many things, I really have few marketable skills. For the past few years I’ve felt that all I’ve had to offer to the world, sadly, is a pretty face. But the truth is that as a floundering actress, I’ve failed at that as well.
Constantly being told that I’m “just not right” for parts, makes me question one of the few things that I’m sure of in this world. That, by the way, came only after years and years and YEARS of telling myself, and slowly believing that all the people who called me names and told me that I was ugly, among other things, as I was growing up were mistaken. Yes, I went through a bit of a Pecola Breedlove phase and emerged gleaming on the other side, but to what end?
As I look MUCH younger than I am, I’m trapped in a perpetual state of cuteness, and people rarely take me seriously. Because pretty, skinny women are dumb. I often see people become instantly annoyed and sometimes even angry if I dare to admit any insecurity that I have because they assume I’m fishing for compliments. If they knew me, they’d know that’s not the case at all, but once they’ve projected their beliefs onto me it’s nearly impossible to wrest myself away from their preconceived notions. I don’t know why people attempt to guilt me into taking catcalls from strangers as complimentary, as if I asked for the burden of alleged beauty. I’m most certainly not flattered when old men leer at me in grocery stores, when douchebags at the gym shower me with misogynistic tomfoolery meant to be both insulting and enticing, or when teenagers walk behind me, loudly singing about “dat ass” to get my attention. Nope! I don’t revel in these moments.
Men assume that I’m high maintenance and stuck up, that they can only manage me if I’m drunk, and that I’m shallow if I’m not romantically inclined towards them. Just once I’d like to go to an improv class or comedy writing workshop without being blatantly informed that I cannot possibly be funny because I’m attractive and probably haven’t struggled enough in life to have a sense of humor. I’d like to go a day without someone telling me that I should smile, or randomly touching my face or my hair as if I’m a My Size Barbie ™ on display for their presumptuous pawing. I’d like to go a day without people assuming that I’m a slut… because they want to sleep with me. Their amplified desire has no impact on my actual proclivities, but few seem to realize that. I’d like to go on an interview and not be stopped mid perfunctory-career-goal-answer to be told, once again that I am pretty. I know that, but I want you to hire me! The same goes for a bygone group of friends I once had that feigned interest in my personal life. Any mention of professional frustration, any confession of unsolved problems financial or familial was quickly swept aside with “But you’re so pretty.” Thanks, but that solves nothing, and more often than not, it hinders me.
These might seem like trivial issues, but they’re my issues. For my conciliatory looks, I have no real career, no relationship and no sugar daddies to speak of. Not that I want those last two things, but isn’t that what beautiful idiots are made for? I’d really just like to not be interrupted when I speak, and to not be made to feel like I invite predatory behavior if it happens to be 90 degrees and I wear a dress that’s not even mildly provocative. And if that isn’t going to happen, I’d love for everyone including my agent to stop telling me how attractive I am in the absence of actual acting jobs. Either everyone is lying to me, or I’ve failed in the beauty department as well.
Mostly though, I just want to be taken seriously. #PrettyPeopleHaveFeelingsToo