Monday, July 09, 2007

Beauty is Her Name

I must admit that I hesitated writing this, because I didn't want it to come across as a plea for help - a type of "woe is me" post used to garner compliments. But here goes anyway.

Since I was a child, I've been viewed as smart (though you wouldn't know it to look at me now). As I got older, people came to view me as silly or goofy. And as I got even older, caustic and stuck up have been added to the mix - though I don't get the stuck-up part, the "why" of which may become clearer later. Of all the things I have been considered or viewed as, the most surprising to me is “beautiful” or “stylish.” Don’t get me wrong, I’d been called beautiful before, but mostly from people like my mother, grandmother, great aunts, and now Jamil, all of whom have a blood or legal obligation to do so.

So to hear myself mentioned in such a way (Roadrunner’s reference to my “style” comes to mind) I still find myself questioning it. Don’t misunderstand; I don’t think I’m ugly. But my entire life, my descriptions have mostly consisted of various types of cute (cute, kinda cute) and maybe even sexy, which I attribute solely to the boob factor. But beautiful? Nah. Which is why I found it so surprising – and totally creepy – when the old, white guy followed me around Wal-Mart smiling, eventually confronting me in the CD section:
“You’re so beautiful. But you’re married,” he croaked (that’s funny cause it’s a play on words) as if he had a real chance before he spotted my wedding ring.

Woodstock’s reaction was more mundane: “Don’t you know you’re beautiful?”
I gave the kind of stock answer that I felt he was looking for, but deep down inside a voice echoed back, “Of course not.”

This leads me to the style part of it. I’ve NEVER been considered stylish. Eccentric maybe, presentable even, but not stylish. In my clique of friends, I was definitely not known for my fashion & style acumen. I’d often get a disapproving glance – or if it was complete gaffe – a grunt from my friend K, who was an expert at all things fashion. I’ve been chastised for an abundance of transgressions, from not curling my eyelashes (“You’re a GIRL! Your lashes should look fun and flirty) to having my keys in the front pocket of my jeans (“What IS that? Just hold it.) I once put on what I considered a very cool outfit (sadly chosen, I must admit, in preparation for seeing her) and K gave me a quick once over. “Interesting,” she said in that tone that seemed to indicate that the outfit was anything BUT interesting.

My other friend, The Captain, was the only one of us able to pull the kind of cool-and-trendy-without-trying-to-be look that you see amongst the movie star set. You’ve seen them. K is the one with the leopard print shirt and red belt (before it was cool to wear leopard and red) and The Captain is the one with the Free Angela Davis T-shirt and relaxed jeans that make her look like a socialite that’s trying to blend in with the common folk and failing miserably. They’re BOTH the types that make guys ask “Who’s your friend?”

I’m the friend. The one who’s WITH them.

So now, I’m in Germany, and all of a sudden I’m stylish. People are coming to me for fashion advice. Asking me where I got my shoes, or shirt or whatever, and honestly it confuses me. I feel like a phony. When someone compliments me on my looks I want to say, well you should see my friends. Or if a friend mentions my keen fashion sense, I want to throw out, “I know some folks who’d disagree with you.”

But I don’t say anything but thanks, and hope my eyes don’t betray me.


woodstock said...

Quit being so hard on yourself. I promise, if you just do your thing, you'll continue to get looked at as stylish if that's what you're shooting for. I've told you about what I admire about you. And honestly, the only person that you should be trying to impress is me and you do that.

No Limit said...

Well, my goal isn't to be considered stylish. I just think it's so amazing that I can be seen so differently when I'm really the same. Case in point: I wear the same stuff here as I did in the states! I think I'm just stylish when you consider the number of wives walking around in their husband's old PTs.

RoadRunner said...

Fascinating that we never see ourselves in the way people see us. I made mention of your style not because of what you do, it's what you don't do. You do you, without apologies. And that's what stylish. So, work it girl. You are beautiful, and it's perfectly okay to act like you know it. And, when it comes from me, you know it's not the boobs.