Saturday, September 28, 2002

Pretty Petty

I grew up in a family where the visual was very, very important. Both my parents were sculptors, and aesthetic appeal was a significant factor in valuing anything. Including people. (My father, for example, was always pointing out interesting specimens ~ either for their overall beauty or for some intriguing feature or shape.)

Except, of course, it wasn't supposed to be. My family also placed great emphasis on moral character. Being a good person was supposed to be much more important than how you looked or how wealthy you were, how much you had accomplished or how much power or influence you had.

It was also important to have good manners. Even if you weren't a good person, you got points for acting like one. Politeness, courtesy, humility, and consideration were to be cultivated at all times. While not caring too much about how we looked, we were also to be well groomed and irreproachable in our personal style. Appearances counted.

So: beauty is skin deep. But everybody judged the book's cover anyway.

Some other data points. My immediate family was remarkably good-looking. My mother was a natural beauty ~ not a glamorpuss, but truly beautiful. My father was very handsome, and a fine figure of a man. My sister was extremely pretty, and a sexy creature too. My brother was universally acknowledged to be a remarkably attractive young man.

I was, well... okay. Certainly not ugly. But nothing special either. Average. Kinda... eh. Not in the same league with them.

Of course, no one ever said any such thing.

So it is with a wry irony that, years later, I realize that ~ at last ~ I'm the best-looking one of the bunch now. It's a Pyrrhic victory, since it's entirely based on the fact that I'm ten years younger than the youngest of the rest, and through no merit of my own apparently I age more gracefully than average.

And, of course, no one cares about something as trivial as looks in my family. That would be superficial and petty.

[cross-posted to both2and: beyond binary]

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