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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accident Of Birth

Beautiful women must make peace with how others react to them at some point in their lives. Problems coming from other women must be dealt with as well. Lots of people wouldn't have much sympathy for these sorts of problems; like having to deal with being rich. But they are very real.

I speak from experience. Once I was young and stunningly beautiful. I did not need to hear about how beautiful, how skinny, how I looked like a model, how my nose was perfect, my lips were so luscious, hair so easy to manage, how I should just wave my ass to get guys to do things for me, anything I wanted.

Heard it every day of my life from someone, if not in words, in the looks they gave me. Wildly resented being born by an accident of birth and defined as sexually beautiful by my culture. Then the odd looks when I commented that it was very strange to be beautiful and to always wonder if someone was doing something for me or with me merely because they liked looking at me. It was sort of like being rich and wondering if your friends liked you because of what you had or because of what you could give them at some point in the future.

My response when I would get these admiring and sometimes cutting, envious comments from other women was to use humor. I would declare some platitude about the nature of comparison of bodily parts and it's wiser to compare yourself to yourself... in a suitably stupid and lousy Indian accent. I learned to trot this one out by preparing it ahead of time. To finish off the humorous effect, I tell them, Oooops, again I must have been spontaneously channeling Baba Hagen Daas. They will laugh and that will be that.

Now I'm not-so-happily fat while being treated for a hereditary hyperthyroid problem that has swung my weight to the other extreme. It's helping me to remember my reply to other women about how did I stay so skinny: "Probably something WAS wrong with me" - and it turned out to be true! Funny, huh? Not a bad idea to watch how you reply or react in this situation because by making the comment I made, perhaps it was "installing" some program with the reaction. Sometimes I wonder if this was true for me...but that's pretty obviously superstition. I was probably just stating facts.

To make peace with being beautiful by confronting the whole idea dead on, my first idea was to so what people told me I was: become a model. This did not work. Turns out I hated dealing with the sort of people who really were only concerned with how I looked and had no idea that who I was inside. They didn't get how the inside me was connected to what they saw on the outside. With a natural charisma that I had no idea how to turn on or off, when I walked into a room, everyone turned to look at me - and I did not know what to do with the attention. Hated the idea that beautiful women were trained to manipulate to get what they needed. Couldn't get rid of the attention I got, no matter how hard I tried to hide myself. I dressed in the most trashy, bulky, loose clothing I could find. It was an era of my life I would never wish on anyone.

A number of coincidental things happened to me in that era. I read Laura Huxley's "You Are Not The Target." It stunned me. At that point in time I was also learning Alexander Technique by attending daily teacher-training classes. As I learned to see postural expressions of character in other people, I realized that others could see my own postural attitudes and how they expressed who I was on the inside as well. Realized that people were probably responding to my own body language that expressed my internal character on some level - as well as the fact that I was a young, beautiful woman. Even if these guys were not conscious how they could discern this information, they could respond to it anyway. I had to give them credit for that, whether they knew what they were responding to or not.

Suddenly, getting this attention became my fault, instead of being an accident of birth. Learning that piece of the puzzle suddenly made my own attractiveness to be a little bit of my fault rather than just an accident of birth. Voila! A turnaround. I was so relieved.

Upon examination, I realized that men seemed to be handing women the power to make or break getting attention. In the past, I didn't want that power. Now that I knew what was going on, I could play with the energy handed to me when my natural charisma was turned on. In the past I was desperately trying to hide my own beauty and the power and interest it generated. I realized that I was making myself responsible for their story. Once I realized men were handing me power and then getting mad at me for having it, I could let that go. I could hand back the energy. It was OK that my interest in them was going to be construed by them to be a sexual interest - that was their business. All I had to do was to make it clear that wasn't what was happening for me on my end and move on. It had been essentially a virtual question posed by many men that I was refusing to answer. Now I could answer it.

Another interesting piece of the puzzle for me was a book about the differences in the way that men and women use language to establish rapport or trade information. She's written quite a few - the author is Deborah Tannen. Any one of them will do, but the one called "Talking 9 to 5, Power and control in the Workplace" is the one I'm thinking about that would be relevant to your situation.

In my life, I had hung out with men mostly in your life and probably adopted their speaking style to a great extent. Because of the company I kept I misunderstood what women are doing and why they are doing it. Women are so often looking to do the "trouble-telling" approach in order to establish rapport as a ritual. They are expecting another woman to say, "Hey, I've got other problems as serious as your weight stuff, check this out." Perhaps they are curious what you will do since you do not have their same complaints or objectives that are so obvious with them...

Anyway, interesting topic. Although many people feel that the question of women's liberation is a "been there, done that" subject, it's still very operative in our culture. Currently the topic has receded into the background - which makes it even more important to remember its cultural influence and power.

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