Let me start here:: I know I’m pretty good-looking. (And if this is your first time visiting my blog, WELCOME! And I want to assure you that I don’t typically start my posts with conceit.) But it’s an important place to start.
I’m actually in a pretty ideal place of attractiveness, truth be told. I can generally feel good about myself, and am not SO good-looking that it’s a problem.
I have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
I also have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their perceived LACK of overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That ALSO makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
Yesterday, I received an email from someone stating I was not a candidate to be on her show because, well, I don't meet the criteria of being "strong visually".
So…like I said in the title of this post, I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.
The first three drafts of this post had much to say about the hypocrisy of this woman. Her show. Her mandate.
But they didn’t make it past the editing stage. Too many swears. Not enough substance.
And ultimately? I get it. TV requires boundaries. Baselines. Limits. And tough, tough, tough skin.
(I also get that “not strong visually” is not ACTUALLY the same as “ugly”. But I’m working on that “tough skin” piece and have miles to go.)
And being called ugly, or uninteresting, or unpopular, or all of the above hurt.
But it wasn’t just my vanity that had me sobbing to my husband last night like tears were going out of style. I was over THAT by the time I’d rounded up my sisters (and sister) who took on my hurt with the love, rage and righteous indignation of a thousand wounded Mama Bears (bless them all) freeing me up to feel underneath it.
Here’s what I found that had me doubled over the chopping block in tears::
There are women with ideas far wiser, wider and more profound than mine that are keeping them to themselves because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, smart enough, accomplished enough to be seen and heard.
I’ll repeat myself from my TEDx talk:: that to me, is UNACCEPTABLE.
Like, can’t BREATHE, unacceptable. Crying as I type this, unacceptable. Gasping for breath, unacceptable.
Please, please, please::
SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. WE NEED YOU.
And also, I know this. At my very very very best, I try to shine some love ‘n light towards the woman who may well be in her own world of hurt. Maybe she has felt the sting of being passed over for her looks and finds using words like the ones she used on me soothes it. Or maybe she likes efficiency. But really, it kinda feels like there is a belief operating that we can’t both be happy with who we are. That we need to be on opposite sides.
I come back to this. Can we once again, please try to find a kinder, gentler way forward? Lighter words? More heart? Sisters, can we please put away the scissors?
Two more requests::
1) I’m not interested in a debate about whether or not I am attractive…frankly, my ego couldn’t take it. And it’s boring. And reductive. (Plus, as above, I am at home with my brand of attractiveness, so honestly, I don't need to know what others think of my looks...and I also hope you hear the love in this request.)
2) If this HAS helped you in any way, will you please let me know? It will make the impending vulnerability hangover that much more bearable. Moreover, will you tell me if this inspired you to be kinder, gentler and more loving to someone in your life? Thank you. Thank you.
PS - It's the wildly gorgeous, talented and brilliant Susannah Conway's birthday today and she has invited me and some other sisters to write about the empowerment of aging. And though that's not what this post was about, I think it's my 41 years that gave me the courage to press publish.