May 27, 2011

Beauty is Evil

The scene:

It's one of those office parties in some fancy hall of some fancy hotel. Everyone is dressed to impress. Tuxedos, long dressing gowns. Lounge music in the background. Soft conversation about the state of the economy, the social security systems of third world countries, the most recent book that says that the right brain is going to take over the world.

It's by Daniel Pink, by the way. And I love it. By far the only non-fiction book that was interesting enough for me to get past the first 3 pages, to reading the whole thing.

You can hear the clinking of champagne glasses. And you can see the flashes of the white jackets and gloves of the waiters weaving through the crowd, offering hors d'oeuvres. Everyone looks like they have stepped off the latest Vogue cover.

I'm also there. Making small talk about how I can't decide which is better: the asparagus goat cheese bruschetta or the pear ricotta crostini.
Yes. I'm a vegetarian.
I'm also contemplating another drink, so I glance at the bar, to make sure my boss isn't there. Don't want to answer questions about the report that was due last week.

There, at the bar, stands a guy. A Greek God. Sharp angular face, soft brown eyes. Glorious hair. Dressed like a prince. Gracefully leaning against the counter.

In an unfortunate accident, instead of finding my boss, my eyes meet his. He shoots me a smile.

I use my peripheral vision to make sure a supermodel isn't around.

And then I do this.

Jarvis, are you there? (think Iron Man, I)
- At your service, Ma'am.
Engage Heads Up Display.
- Check.
Import all preferences from home interface.
-Will do, Ma'am.
All right, what do you say?
- We're online and ready.
Do a check on control surfaces.

My facial muscles tense up one by one, to make sure no expressions divulge signs of interest.
My eyes turn into cold stone.
My muscle blades, check themselves one by one to make sure my body language doesn't slip up and signal any interest.
And, there's hard core rock music playing in the background.

I look away. And make sure not to make eye contact again. If I'm directly approached, I talk politely and pounce at the first chance to get away. If the Greek God decides to join a conversation that my circle is having, I excuse myself and run to the powder room. And stay there till the end of the night.

And its not because I'm playing hard to get.

My brain is doing this:
'Okay, he is good looking. Too good looking. He probably just smiled at you because you had coriander stuck in your teeth. It's a pity smile. Or worse, it's a ravenous one. He's not a nice person. I can just see Don Juan in his eyes. Stay away. You're probably like the 47th girl he smiled at in the last 47 minutes. He's a smooth operator. He's a jerk. You don't want him lurking around you. Oh NO. He's coming closer. Don't let him get in the six meter radius. If he enters that space, you're dead meat. Move, move, move. Get out, NOW! If you want to live, GET OUT NOW!!!Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh'

Smooth operator: My brain is vintage.
Six meter radius: My brain is precise and accurate.
If you want to live: My brain is prone to exaggeration.

Now, before the psychiatrist in you starts the diagnosis, I haven't suffered a heartbreak at the hands of a Greek God before. The Greek Gods that I didn't meet in the above setting, actually, turned out to be quite nice.

And no, I don't have low self-esteem. I know I'm quite average looking, I have nice hair and I'm charming and funny.

Don't you roll your eyes at me. You're the one who asked for proof of high-self esteem. I didn't start this. You asked for it.

The truth is I'm a big opponent of the ' to be beautiful is to be blessed' school of thought. I support the 'pretty people are evil' branch. I'm quite disgusted of society's obsession with designer clothing clad, super skinny, make-up laden, air brushed and photo-shopped version of beauty. Or, as in this case, sharp angular featured, doe eyed, tall, air-brushed bodied, designer suit clad version.

I blame it on high school.

High school was an ugly place for most people. I gather this from my extensive research in societal affairs, focusing on ground-breaking and influential movies like 'Never Been Kissed', 'She's all that' and '17 again'.

And, of course, my own experience.

My personal high school history isn't as traumatic as the kids in the movies above. But it's shaped my opinions into what they are.

I was a part of the popular group of pretty girls, but in the lowest rung of the hierarchy.
(We didn't have cheerleaders at our high school. But in the movie context, I was a part of the group of popular cheerleaders.
Only, I was more the side-kick. Not the centre of attention).

So I got more attention than the other girls on the outside, but of the attention that came our way, I got the leftovers.

I guess the braces didn't help. Nor did the fact that I didn't holiday in the States or in London. The deal breaker was probably the fact that I got good grades.

Good grades, where I come from, came with the 'nerd' tag. The 'nerd' tag was glued onto your forehead with superglue. And unless you looked like Cindy Crawford (maybe not even then) no one, absolutely no one, had the clout to unglue it.

Anyway, I was happy with whatever I was getting. I never complained. 
I'm not sure I had a brain developed enough to complain.

But my sub-conscience was doing it's job. It was monitoring, scrutinizing and analyzing. It was forming the skeleton of what has now become the NEW me.
And what a great job, huh?
Ignore that. 

Then I got a little older. And the braces came off. And I got glistening pearly whites. And my skin cleared up. And I started getting more attention. By that time I was in college in India. With a new set of friends.
And a brand new brain, prepped up and ready for use.

I saw how the world made a distinction between pretty and not pretty. Cute and not cute. Beautiful and not beautiful. And its horrible.

How we automatically gravitate towards a cute baby but unintentionally sideline her less cute-r brother. He just stands there, wide-eyed, fiddling with a small piece of thread hanging from his baby sister's stroller.

Even between kids the same age, notice how the cute ones become so comfortable with the attention that they can converse confidently with any passer by. The less cute ones are the quiet kinds. Huddled into the corner- watching someone else hog all the attention.

And when they get a little older. It only gets worse. They're the ones who are called  on to present the bouquet to the chief guest at school functions. They are the ones who win the fancy dress competitions. They are the ones that get the free bar of chocolate because the lady at the supermarket counter can't stop squealing at how adorable they are.    

Stupid chocolate bar. They don't taste that good anyway. No wonder she gives them away for free.
Yea, I wasn't a cute kid.
How did you know?

This is where it all starts.

And you can't even make out when these kids join the race: designer clothes, make-up, anti-ageing lotions, anorexia and insecurities.

So I declared myself a 'beauty opponent' who subscribes to the view that beauty is evil. Beauty compensates for something that is lacking on the inside of the person.

No, I don't mean that a person with one kidney is more beautiful than a person with two.
Although, it might be true.
But you'll never know.
Unless you go around asking people how many kidneys they have.
Which would be a bit odd.

Before you point it out, I'll admit. I know the flaws with that view.

By this logic, anyone who is a nice person should be downright ugly. Mother Teresa and Princess Diana should look horrifying. And Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie should be the embodiment of Satan.

Let's just say it's a new school of thought, and hasn't quite perfected itself yet. We're working on it.

But the truth is this:
Anyone who will ever be important in your life, your parents, your friends or your husband will be the ones who won't be able to make out if you've had a haircut or if you've put on weight. They'll never know if you're wearing 'Prada' or it's cheaper cousin 'Prado'. They'll never love you because you're so perfect.

They'll love you because you sound like a toad when you sing; because you make corny jokes or funny faces; because when you fall from your chair at a restaurant, you're laughing so hard that you can't get back up for the next seven minutes.

They will love every glaring imperfection in you.

If you believe this, then I urge you to join the 'beauty is evil' movement.
We'll work out the kinks together.

And the next time you see a cute baby in her stroller and her older brother at the corner grocery store. Smile at the older brother. The dazzling shy smile you get in return will be well worth it.
I promise.

By the way. How many kidneys do you have?

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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.