I am not a “pretty girl.”
I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way. I don’t think I am unattractive. I do okay. But, what I do mean is that I am not one of those “pretty girls.” You know… the ones. The girls that have been praised, petted, and pampered for being pretty. The girls who KNOW they are pretty. The girls that expect things because they are pretty. The girls who turn around and expect that someone will be fawning over them, gaping at them, taking their picture, or just BE THERE … FOR THEM. At least, that is what it always feels like to me.
As I said, I am not that girl. I never have been.
Again, this is not saying I am unattractive. Oh, yes, I can absolutely feel unattractive. And I can feel beautiful, when I am all dressed up with makeup on and confidence abounds. But, regardless, I never learned to expect anything. I don’t expect anything.
My parents taught me to be self-reliant. To do things for myself. To not rely on (or maybe not even trust) other people. So, I don’t expect people to be there for me. Certainly not on a whim. I am not sure I even want them to be. One of my girlfriends asked, when we were on a girl date, “so, when two fems are out together, who opens the door?” My pragmatic answer, “Whoever gets there first.” Because in my world, I appreciate people opening doors for me, but I also open doors for them. Because, I don’t expect those things from people. When I applied for my current job, the job application asked if we were willing to carry 50 pounds. This was an office job! Why would they ask that? Well, because we carried things. Computers, books, and documents. Lots and lots of documents. Yes, I carried 50 pounds. I was young and working with a lot of older white men. They let me carry my 25 or 50 pound boxes back and forth. Usually one of them would ask me on my last box if I needed help. I think it was on purpose. I would always tell them no… even if it hadn’t been my last box. Because I didn’t want to be that girl who couldn’t carry my 50 pounds. I didn’t WANT to be that pretty little girl who needed someone else to do part of my job for me – even if it was the unglamorous, uninteresting, box carrying part of my job. I wasn’t going to helpless or act helpless when I didn’t really need help.
I am also not a pretty girl because I like to disappear. No one taught me to be invisible, but sometimes I crave it. Sometimes, I want to be so nothing, so inconsequential, that I fade into the background. Don’t look here, there is nothing to look at, no one to notice. Of course, I never do that on stage. But sometimes, in daily life, fading into the background and being invisible is ideal. It would also be helpful, I think, if you are a thief or an axe murder, because even if there are witnesses, they never really SEE you. I always think of Neil Gaiman’s book Neverwhere and his characters comments that they aren’t really SEEN. And there are times that is tragic, and times that it is a benefit. Which you think, that makes no sense. But it does. Because there are times you want to be anonymous and there are time that you want be seen. And you would really only understand both the power and the helplessness of being invisible if you have been invisible.
So, no, I have never been a pretty girl. I have been invisible far too often to be a pretty girl…