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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is Beauty a Burden? And Should We Say So if it Is?

Yesterday the Internet was abuzz about a column written by British writer, Samantha Brick about how hard her life has been because she's so beautiful.

The inevitable backlash was swift and harsh. And I admit being amongst the bashers. I looked at Brick's photos and immediately thought, "Oh, honey, you are not all that." And felt it was immodest, narcissistic and vain.

But then I began to think about it... There is nothing less tolerated in our culture than daring to think you're attractive. When given a compliment we're supposed to deflect it immediately and point to the giver some flaw. I was reminded of this little classic scene from "Mean Girls."

 It seems that in general women suffer more from this disease than men. Most guys I know pretty much accept a compliment at face value. With women there's always subtext - on both sides. A woman may tell another woman she looks pretty, she likes her dress, her hair or whatever... but sometimes beneath that is jealously and resentment.

I was raised to never think I was all that gorgeous. "Handsome is as handsome does," my mom always said. Never quite sure what it meant, I did get the message - don't think you're anything special. So I didn't. And I am one of those women that deflects compliments with a disclaimer - "Oh, thank you for thinking my hair is pretty but look at my roots!" Or, if talking about myself I often say, "I know I'm not completely unfortunate looking," because heaven forbid I say, yeah, there are some days I think I look pretty.

So in 24 hours I kind of came full circle on Miss Brick's assertion. Her lack of humility still doesn't set quite right with me, but it begs the question - do we dislike her for her looks, or because she dared to say she's aware of the gifts that come with attractiveness? In that latter sense she's far braver than I've ever been.

Is it so wrong to be aware of your own beauty? I'm not sure. For now I'm just going to keep working really hard on just saying "Thank you," when I get a compliment. It's a long way from blogging about the perks of gorgeousness. but it's a start.

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