Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Does the Obsession Ever End?

There's an old song that goes,

"Think young and beautiful
It's your duty to be beautiful
Think young and beautiful
If you want to be loved."

I have been fighting that belief ever since I was a fat kid. Bound and determined not to be defined by traditional standards of beauty, I went through some downright seedy periods when I was all Birkenstocks, wooly socks, baggy jeans, oversized sweaters, long frizzy hair, with armpits and legs that remained unshaved. All so I could prove songs like that were bullshit.

I prefer to primp a little more now -- sometimes I feel downright "girly." But the first thought in my head each morning is still critical of face, hair, body, clothes, whatever. I feel like I'm saying to the world the line Kim Novak says to Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo when he's changing her clothes, hair, everything to fit his ideal:

"If I let you change me, will that do it?
If I do what you tell me, will you love me?"

Author Abby Ellin watched her grandmother wrestle with her ideal of beauty until her death. It's a heart breaking essay (from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine) that we all should read.

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