Saturday, January 20, 2007

Confronting My Ugly Betty

I don't know how to recount a moment during Happy Hour on the evening of my birthday without sounding conceited OR without seeming like I am conceited but trying to sound like I'm not. To that point, this will be another post that kind of makes me wish I hadn’t shared this blog with family and friends. Without total anonymity, I can't write nakedly about everything that I think, feel or experience with no fear of judgment.

But I’m going to make an attempt at a naked statement and try not to care how others will view it: I didn't know that my coworkers thought that I was pretty until Thursday night. To be honest, I never wondered whether my coworkers thought I was pretty or not, which is probably why I noticed when a colleague asked how we snagged a great table near the front door of The Ginger Man (a bar that was overcrowded with men that night), and one of my bosses replied, "I sent the pretty girl to get it."

I disguised my shock over her response. In fact, I pretended like I didn’t hear her say it. I didn’t want to be the annoying girl who appears to be fishing for additional compliments by replying, “No, I’m not” ... You know - the shallow “oh, go on” line.

New York City can do that to you. In a place where incredibly striking women are a dime a dozen, beautiful can easily begin to feel average, and pretty can begin to feel less than average. My boss’s comment made me think about how I've spent the past few months surrounded by size-zero models, fashionable women whose handbags cost more than my entire outfit, and advertisements for liposuction and rhinoplasty in the city's dailies during my morning commute. I have let my environment cause me to stress about my recent weight gain, covet other women’s shoes, feel less than average and forget that I am not all that shabby-looking on a good day.

Cry me a river and let’s be real. It’s not only New York City to blame. Though I am generally confident in my abilities, my self-esteem sometimes reaches an annoying and unattractive low. My feelings about my appearance have been a roller coaster since puberty, and it’s up to me to finally realize what is truly important. So what if I'm not as beautiful as the models who show up in the lobby of our office every other week or the flawless faces on the magazine covers I pass at every corner newsstand? There are certainly worse things in the world than not measuring up to others physically. Yet so many women waste so much time on self-assessment and self-pity. I've certainly been guilty of it on more than one occasion.

Today I stood in the mirror and thought about how being average in the metropolis of beautiful people is ok because I believe that I am incredibly striking on the inside. You don’t have to be the most beautiful woman in the world to have beauty, and that's not just something that Ugly Betty tells herself. Loving what you look like inside is so much better than loving what you see in the mirror. I need to be happy with what I've got and feel lucky to have it instead of selfishly wishing I was as beautiful as Beyonce, Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie.

If I could just be comfortable with how I look, maybe I could learn to appreciate a compliment instead of looking away in embarrassed silence. And then I wouldn’t even think to write about this superficial insecurity in my blog.


Anonymous said...

i appreciate your honesty and openness with this topic, i often feel the same way in this city...i forget that i am pretty inside and out.

Anonymous said...

I'd take it as a compliment.....or at least know what you have in your bag of tricks. Unfortunately, the real world says a pretty face and sex sells. No matter how protective your family may be!