This post already sounds like it might be a little "Brently". Fair warning. I'm in kind of a funk this morning. I hate it when Bill has to go away, especially when he goes to a place where Internet sucks. I know... there was a time not so long ago when no one even had Internet, so TDY to Africa meant not having any communication whatsoever except expensive phone calls. I miss Bill, though, and I'm feeling kind of isolated. There are things I could do to feel less isolated, but they would involve driving, which I hate doing.
But lately I’d been noticing a new type of comment: “She looks really smart!” Was that the equivalent of saying an unattractive woman had a “great personality”?
Maybe "hate" is too strong a word. I don't mind driving when I'm doing it, I guess... except when there's snow and/or ice or a lot of traffic. Or I get stopped at a red light on a hill (I drive a stick). It would probably do me some good to drive somewhere today and pick up some groceries. I just don't feel like doing it and I don't actually have to. I have enough groceries to get through the next few days. But I'm out of orange juice, almost out of half and half, almost out of bread, and a few other things that would be nice to have, but are not essential.
Then yesterday, while I was walking the dogs, I slipped on a patch of ice and landed on my knee. While I recovered quickly, my body is a bit sore this morning. It's just stiff and achy enough to make me feel like an old lady.
All of this crap has led up to my mood this morning, which is decidedly pissy. Yesterday, I read an essay on Yahoo! about a woman who took her two month old baby to a plastic surgeon. The baby had large ears that protruded. I didn't have a problem with the fact that the woman decided to get her daughter's ears "fixed". Kids can be cruel and since the baby was so young, she could get a procedure done that wasn't as expensive or invasive as surgery. If the mother had waited much longer, surgery would have been the only option and it would not be available until her daughter was seven years old.
What I did notice was this quote from the story.
That comment came across to me as shallow. I said so when I shared the article. No one seemed to notice, though. Everyone was making comments about whether or not the mom should have had the kid's ears fixed. Finally, after someone else posted another anecdote about how cruel kids can be, I wrote that it seemed like everyone missed my point. One commenter came back and vaguely addressed it, leaving me a little non-plussed. Because yet again, it seemed like she missed the point, which made me feel like I wasn't being clear.
When you're feeling Brently, your body hurts, and you're lonely, it sucks to feel misunderstood. But I guess it doesn't really matter that much, and if I had more of a life, I probably wouldn't notice it. Anyway, since this is my blog and where I like to get on a soapbox, I'll post my thoughts here as clearly as I can.
What's wrong with someone telling you your baby looks smart? What's wrong with having a great personality? Why is our culture such that hearing someone say that their baby looks "smart" automatically makes them think others see their baby as ugly and sends them running to a plastic surgeon? Why is it so important to be attractive, especially if you're female?
Of course, being a female American, I totally get how important beauty is. I was one of those perpetually dateless females when I was growing up. In a way, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. I don't have a lot of bad memories of unsuccessful dates or relationships that didn't work out. I also don't have any lingering aftermaths of poor decisions. On the other hand, I remember feeling shitty because I felt like no one thought I was pretty. And I was actually quite a beautiful baby, if I do say so myself. :) My mom says so, and she's not the type to lie in order to spare someone's feelings.
The mother's comment about her beautiful baby's ears and her fear that people would someday say her child had a "great personality" made me feel kind of sad. We should value all positive attributes of what makes up a person. Physical attractiveness should not automatically trump someone's intellect or personality. But it does, and that will never change in my lifetime. It would require overcoming biological, psychological, and societal factors that are too great for the average person to surmount.
I tend to joke around a lot, so many people don't take me very seriously. I suspect that a lot of my family members don't even like me very much. Bill is one of the few people who makes me feel very accepted and appreciated, so when he's gone, I get kind of depressed. But I know he'll be home soon and I can get through these next three days. It still sucks, though, even though I know things could be worse.