Beholder

June 15, 2010
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The first word I learned to spell, after my name, was the word beautiful. I remember raising my hand during “News Time” in Kindergarten and declaring this knowledge. My classmates were shocked, and I was beaming.
Around that same age, my mother would tell me that there was both an outer beauty and an inner beauty. “The first,” she said, “is what people will notice initially. The second will become visible once they get to know you.” But there is a major flaw in her argument. She’s implying that I will have the chance to show people the beauty present in my attitude, in my personality, and in my morals. In reality, there is no guarantee.
Boys broke my mother’s idealistic words. It didn’t help that my expectations in life were crumbling during the confusing year of Kindergarten. While I was forced to tolerate questions about the “cute boys at school,” my two best friends started a club under the playground floors where girls were called in to confess their crushes. I couldn’t seem to escape the need to declare an obsession with boys, so I finally chose the one who would climb under bus seats to sit next to me. It obviously meant we were more than friends, right? Was I not attracting his attention with my beauty? But because I was the shyest girl on the bus, process of elimination might conclude he liked my outer beauty rather than my inner beauty.
Years later Kindergarten Crushes turned into High School Boyfriends. Those years I learned that the “pretty girls” were the ones with boyfriends, and the “hot women” were the ones our dads would give second glances. Accumulated, I’m sure my girlfriends and I literally spent years perfecting our bodies all in order to achieve that second glance and that first date.
Then prom night came. Similar to big wedding days, it was clearly every girl’s dream and every boy’s nightmare. However, I beg to disrupt this belief and suggest that it’s every boy’s dream and every girl’s nightmare. The men get a chance to see their women dolled up, and the women are pressured to become more Barbie looking than ever before. That being said, don’t get the wrong intention. Dressing up was fun and dancing was even better. But it was during the picture snapping that the airspace became hogged with families and dates telling us young women how “beautiful” and “pretty” and “so grown up” we looked. While this cornucopia played in the background, cameras flashed and we posed. Except for the few “silly” pictures, we were expected to have straight backs, huge smiles, and raised chins. Try to tell me prom’s definition isn’t registered as physical beauty and you’ll fail.
Now fast forward to the pictures taken at my 50th birthday party. I hope I wasn’t convinced to smile. Even better, I hope I wasn’t forced to have this party. Flip to photographs commemorating my 100th birthday. If I’m unable to remember how to spell beautiful, I hope I still remember how to embody it. Does my inner beauty shoot out easier because of my toothless smile? Or am I wearing dentures to correct my flaws?





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