I read a headline on Gather the other day about a man who married a woman in the armed forces.
There are many words we use for our soldiers: brave, strong, tough, fearless, proud...
And yet, the headline read something to the effect of, "So-and-so marries beautiful soldier girlfriend" (does anyone remember what it was exactly? I'm having trouble finding it now.)
As a girl, I can be brave. I can strong, tough, proud. I can be a powerful businesswoman or a fearless crocodile wrestler or clever at fixing up a car.
But of course, the best thing I can hope to be, in this society, is beautiful. And that trumps everything real.
I remember the compliments my brother used to get growing up: how he was so smart, so dedicated to school, so funny.
But whenever a stranger wanted to compliment me, they told me I was "So Pretty". As if that was the best thing I was ever allowed to be.
Of course, no one ever told my brother if he was 'handsome' or not. As a boy, his looks are a non-issue.
No wonder girls tremble in fear of aging; no wonder womankind spends billions every year on cosmetics and plastic surgery. It has been drilled into us since day one that when we get old and start to lose our 'looks', society at large will no longer love us.
Well, not me. I'm lucky enough to have all the special treatments of a beautiful girl in society now, being in my mid 20s. I'm not going to lie: my looks have gotten me a lot, from discounts at the produce market to help in times of need. But when my youthful appearance fades, and I am sure it will, I will have something real to back it up. I will not whine and make appointments with the plastic surgeon. I will be remembered for my creativity, my work ethic, my wisdom, and my sense of humor.