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Why Beauty Is Overrated

We cling to an eager, helpless belief resembling religiosity in the endless litany of rules concerning how we should and shouldn’t look.

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We’re taught that these ideas are so essential: beauty, ugliness. They are the things that are supposed to be us. They feel so large sometimes that there isn’t room for the rest. Beauty, success. Ugliness, failure.

God, I’m thankful for the ugly days when I am busy with my life. When I catch a vaguely disappointing glimpse of myself in the subway window and keep feeling good anyway. When I look bad in everything I try on and I am in love with this chapter I’ve just written.

When I am full of my own potential, and the promise of the rest of my life, the knowledge I’ll acquire, the sense that I’m making progress and, if anything, the clumsiness of my appearance is sort of compelling. I am a quirky, interesting woman. I look quirky and interesting, too. I have a nose that wouldn’t give in. I have a lot of other stuff going on.

It’s not just about beauty—it’s about letting yourself not care about beauty. It’s about being comfortable with the occasional ugly day. About taking the corrosive, toxic helplessness out of unattractiveness and replacing it with moving on. It’s about the fact that everyone has ugly days, where nothing looks right and it’s impossible to imagine that it ever did or ever will, but they don’t have to mean anything more than not looking good.

Because there are women detectives who aren’t ridiculously hot and there are nerdy girls who look awkward in a prom dress but kick ass at physics. And there is so much more to being alive than being pretty. All of it, actually.

All of the rest of it. Adventures and passionate love and brilliant research and delicious food and the steady struggle and satisfaction of getting better at something, and impacting other people’s lives and creating something new and cool. Rollercoasters. Waterfalls. Those awesome old falling-apart globes that they sell at flea markets.

I am ugly, I thought, on my 50th block.  I can be anything.

Kate Fridkis blogs at  Eat the Damn Cake. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Salon, Tablet, and many more. She lives in Brooklyn, where it's not totally weird to be as obsessed with sandwiches as she is. You can follow her on Twitter  here.

 
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