Perceptions of beauty

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One of my readers, who shall remain anonymous, messaged me yesterday via the Facebook page associated with this blog and said: “how could things be difficult for you, you are a beautiful French woman – life doesn’t get any more generous than that. You are the envy of the world, both male and female. You are so fortunate.”
Well, I can only say I was genuinely baffled. Gobsmacked is probably a better word for it. This reader — kind as I’m sure he is, and meant to be — made a whole lot of assumptions and came up with a picture that couldn’t be further removed from the truth.

Let’s start with the fact that I am indeed very fortunate in many ways, not that I’m going to go into it here because I believe in keeping personal details private on a public site. Still, I am not and never have been “the envy of the world”, why should I be? I am really not that special that the world should be taking notice, and that’s absolutely fine with me. I have no desire for fame or glory, I just really want to be happy.

Beauty. Well, that’s a question of perception, isn’t it? We all have a different definition of it. It might sound really lame but physical beauty is not something I seek or cherish. I love fashion and have always cared about the image I project, but only because I think someone’s personality can shine through their style. I never look the same on any given day: I’m either very feminine, all dresses and killer heels, or rock chick dripping with leather and chunky jewellery, or girl next door in a pair of jeans and t-shirt.

It all depends on the mood, my look accommodates all the different sides of my personality. I have a lot of clothes, own far too many pairs of shoes, I’m well aware that this aspect of me is not exactly deep or particularly flattering but, it is only one facet of my identity. I have never sought validation based on my looks. Ultimately, I care far more about intelligence, passion, ideas, thoughts and kindness than I do about physical beauty. Make my mind reel or my head spin with your personality and you will become physically beautiful to me, even if your physical self is not necessarily up to conventional beauty standards. Similarly, if you look like a Greek god but have nothing to say of any interest, any physical attraction I may have felt will instantly disappear.

Does it really need stating though, that beautiful people (I’m not putting myself in that category btw) are not immune to pain and tragedy? Apparently, it does, which is strange since the corridors of history are littered with tales of such people.

It just really shocked me that a reader could be so bold as to assume they know about me and my life just by looking at a photograph. I do believe that when people put their heart and soul into their writing (as I often do) you glean plenty about them, about who they are as a person. I do passionately believe this. However, unless somebody tells you exactly what is happening in their life, how can you possibly know? And a picture may be worth a thousand words, but they’re not always the right words.

I am still now, as a grown woman, struggling to deal with the fact that my mother is unloving, selfish and cruel. I’ve been battling with insecurity and anxiety since I was a child as a result of it. I have long accepted that her failure as a mother (and human being) has nothing to do with me, that I am not responsible for it…and yet there are still occasional bad days when I feel (totally irrationally) that surely there must have been something wrong with me. She certainly told me exactly that as a child, ad nauseam, and still does now, when she gets the chance which is rare these days as I refuse to put myself through anymore unnecessary grief.
I was unwanted, unloved, emotionally abused and I have the scars, some of there barely healed, to prove it.

No, it doesn’t take a therapist to explain this need I have to help people, to try to repair the damages of the world, to fix things, why I cannot stand injustice, unfairness, nastiness and bullying, why it hurts so badly (and makes me so angry) when people take advantage of me.

I have, so far, been as honest as I wish to be, this is not meant to be a story of my trials and tribulations, but let me just add that I had to fight for everything I have now (cliched as it sounds) that I’ve suffered loss, that I’ve given so much of myself to too many people throughout my life only to be betrayed. . I have been through shit, like lots of others out there (and most of them had it far worse than me), I’m hardly unique…

…but, yes, “things have been difficult for me” dear reader, at various times in my life and more recently in the last few months. You are right though, I’ve also been fortunate, only it has nothing to do with this beauty you speak of which is not real: it is photos with flattering lighting and good angles, it is the magic of makeup and everything it entails.

However I like to think there is beauty in me: I’m not perfect and I have no wish to be. (Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did it would be terribly boring)
I have many flaws: I have a hard time dealing with stupidity and ignorance, I struggle with small talk and connecting with people on a superficial basis, I am sometimes too argumentative, stubborn, I can be too honest, but I’m also incredibly generous, loyal and compassionate. I really am the textbook case INFJ, there is a reason why we are so rare: it’s because we give so selflessly, and that is true beauty.

One additional thought: “If a man does not embrace his past, he has no future.” – Ardeth Bay

Image: Yesterday, in London: very interesting and productive day in many ways…& good lighting 😉

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76 thoughts on “Perceptions of beauty

  1. Very well said. “You don’t know how it feels to be me” for we all have our pain, our struggles even if they don’t show on the outside. I have that shared maternal experience. It’s no joke to feel unworthy. And its a constant battle to remind yourself its not really you, it’s them. Much love to you beautiful Nathalie. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meg, I’m so sorry you have been through it too. It was difficult for me to sum it up in a few words in this post because it’s such a huge thing, it’s still painful to think about, it created issues that have got much better with time and love from others, but issues that nonetheless will probably be with me forever. But I don’t have to tell you any of this, you already know. Hugs and 💜 to you also 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well stated and all very true. As someone who was once a beautiful French woman, I can assure you, being a pudgy American man is not much different. 🙂 Thinking we know someone based merely on our perceptions of how they “look” is one of the most foolish and immature things we can do. Now, if only I could learn to walk better in these spiked heels, I’d be happier. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha I know, the world would stop turning without me 😂
      I think it was meant kindly so this wasn’t a rip job…but things had to be said all the same. Btw Matt, I’m very patiently waiting for you to be ready to join Antony and I in some writing 😉
      Seriously though, no pressure. I’m just saying I haven’t forgotten 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes. Everything you said. Amen. And hugs. I know what it’s like to feel unwanted and unworthy by a parent. It’s not something that goes away. And I totally agree about superficial beauty. And damn, how fucking patronizing and ridiculous to be told to (basically) shut your pretty mouth. Ugh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Vic, I do think he was being kind and didn’t mean that I should shut up. I honestly don’t think he meant to be patronising although that’s totally how it read.
      Yes, the whole parent thing is awful, I remember what you wrote not long ago about your dad…it’s funny because it took me a long time to meet others who had been through the same thing…when I was growing up all my friends had happy families with loving parents and it made it that much harder for me

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I’m sure he was trying to be kind but it amounts to- you’re beautiful so stop complaining. It just shows how ingrained it is sometimes, which is a shame.
        I grew up pretty much the only one without two loving parents and to make matters even more isolating, my sister and I were the only half-black kids anywhere. It wasn’t a thing back then, lol. It’s hard not to fit in as a child. There are so many differences in people that having these outside differences makes it even harder.

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  4. I love this post, it is very honest and very true. People often assume they know someone, and they judge the person based on the tiny bits and pieces of information they have about that person… Which is so wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I did try to be honest without going into too much specifics. Yes, people just don’t know and shouldn’t assume…but then I guess we all do it up to a point? It’s human nature.

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      1. Yes, I agree, it is in our nature, and everyone does it one way or another, me included. But as we grow older, I think we should be wise enough to know that there’s always more than meets the eye, even if our first instinct is to judge…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful is as beautiful does. When a person is, or has been, bein’ beautiful, then he’s beautiful to behold. And moreover he perceives beauty in ALL human beings. I attest this from my own experiences. To me, you, in this very picture, look both beautiful AND handsome, which indicates you’ve a tendency to do things that are beautiful and things that are handsome.

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  6. An interesting post ma chère. 🙂 And very honest. Sorry about your mother. Certaines mères sont comme ca. C’est dommage.
    Maintenant, en voyant les photos, et en lisant ton post… The fact is you are… very French in many aspects. Both physically and psychologically.
    And if it’s any consolation, I share most of your self-stated “flaws”… (Are those flaws?)
    Continue mon amie, et à bientôt. (And please don’t be too hard on the fellow, I’m sure he meant it as a compliment.)
    And having said that, I hope Life is good to you these days. Bz.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh, j’aime beaucoup ça! “Very French in many aspects…” Ç’est peut être ridicule mais je prends ça comme un compliment, et un grand! 😉
      Oui, je pense qu’être trop honnête n’est pas toujours bon, quant au reste, ben…bon, pas toujours des flaws mais ils peuvent le devenir aisément.
      Non, je ne suis pas en rage contre cette personne, je me rends bien compte qu’il “meant well” 🙂
      Life is treating me fine, I won’t ask you the same question since you’ve just spent a month in Paris! 😉
      Mais, le retour n’était pas trop dur? Bz aussi

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad life is treating you fine, my dear. Le mois à Paris était très bien comme toujours. Curieusement le retour a été moins dur que d’habitude. J’avais du mal à me réadapter. Mais là, j’ai laissé Paris… serein. 😉
        Re-Bz

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      2. Ah! Et “Very French” est un compliments. Nous avons beaucoup de défauts, mais aussi de bons côtés assez uniques. De toutes façons après avoir vécu un peu partout et pouvoir endosser beaucoup d’identités… au bout du compte… I remain a bloody Frog. Et fier de l’être. Bonne fin de semaine mon amie.

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  7. I’m sure you already know I have a HUGE crush on you! 😉 You are beautiful…and you have a gorgeous mind……..and you are exactly right in everything you say here. I have met so many people in my lifetime that have had a similar experience.
    Joy knows nothing of appearances…it’s something you feel in your heart. What makes you happy may not be what makes others happy…As you say, he might have just spoken without thinking.

    But this is a great reminder to the rest of us to think before we speak about things that seem “Easy to understand” on the surface.

    I applaud you, Lady, for choosing to talk about it this way. It is an elegant way to handle a delicate situation.

    You are beautifully, cool! 🙂

    have a great day, Nathalie! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Eric…what a lovely comment. I’m sure I don’t deserve half the things you just said about me but I’m touched you would say them. I have told you this before, many times, but you *do* have a beautiful heart 💜

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  8. As far as I’m concerned, your spirit shines through in your honesty and compassion. Your physical presence is like a book cover. What matters most is the depth of the pages that tells your story. However it’s dressed, if one would take the time to read, they get the truth and beauty. If all one does is skim the cover they lose out on the passion.

    Oh and Fuck him, whoever this lowly prick is.

    I’m in your corner mademoiselle
    🙏➰❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Antony, I couldn’t have put it better! You can’t “skim” and expect to know, I love this comment because, actually, nobody could have put it better.
      Thank you for being in my corner and being a kickass sweetheart 😘💜

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  9. @”(Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did it would be terribly boring) – au fait, la perfection n’est pas de ce monde, et heureusement… 🙂 just dare being yourself, babe: you’re a beautiful young lady!!! ❤

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  10. Managed to miss this, much to my regret. Glad I went back.
    Okay –
    Like you I had that kind of mother.
    Other girls would assume it meant I hated women. I didn’t hate anyone, but I hated the way some people acted, irrespective of gender. It’s about being triggered. So yeah, girls like us, we don’t like it when women who remind us of things that hurt us in the past, trigger us, and we might rip their pretty little noses off.
    The issue of beauty. I think you are physically beautiful. If you were a hunchback I’d still think you were mentally beautiful. The latter is more important and you know that very well as you’ve often told me that. People who are beautiful have a harder time not an easier time, they are assumed to be lucky and blessed, people are often unkind to them because of this, envy, jealousy, spite, yeah all of that.
    Sure there are upsides, but to diminish anyone’s suffering by saying something like ‘oh but surely your life is blessed because you are beautiful’ is much like saying ‘oh surely your life is blessed because you have two arms and two legs’ all it means it, you don’t have obvious things missing. But of course, a person with no legs and arms can be happier than a fully formed person because there is so much more to consider, and by being pithy people rarely consider the whole story (except Kate Bush who did a great album with that tltle, but I digress..)
    When I modeled I was told two things. You’re an ugly cunt who the fuck do you think you are modeling? And wow, you’re a model can I date you just because you’re a model. I actually found the second comment more offensive.
    Point being. Beauty makes people strange. They either want to tear you down or put you up to artificial heights where you can only fall. And let’s not even ‘go there’ when people find you beautiful but you think you are hideous which meany ‘beautiful’ women (and men) feel. Imagine being told oh but you are so beautiful when you can’t stand the sight of yourself?
    So I just think it’s waaaay more complex and if someone says that they are quite simply, missing the point.
    Passive-aggressive people have said similar things to me, whilst also pulling faces as if to imply ‘well truth be told I don’t really like how pale you are and you don’t have any hips’ it’s all just a royal court WANK if you ask me.
    Bottom line. If you get involved with a person you want them to find you physically attractive of course, but most of all you want them to love you and ‘get’ you and that often does not happen even if someone thinks you’re beautiful.
    For gals of our breed, we see the truth and we see the lies, and that’s the torture. It’s our weft.
    Just know this. Even if you were all scarred up and disgusting I’d still want you to be leader of the band of wolves and run through the night. That’s the way everyone should be if they truly get you, and anything less is just fodder for the fake.
    Well said – is this. You rival Naomi Kleins Beauty Myth in the exposure of truth and dichotomy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments are so epic!
      Yeah, I agree with all of this. Beauty is nothing, it either attracts people for the wrong reasons OR they want to rip you apart because of it, not much of a lucky thing then, is it? I didn’t know you used to model, I can totally see it because you’re gorgeous, not that I care about that because the real you is SO much more than what you look like and the real you I love, as you know. It’s always people’s minds that I remember and ultimately fall in love with, their minds, their personality, whatever you want to call it. I need to connect with someone, I need to laugh with them, I need to be challenged by them, and yes, I need to be be loved for who I am and what I believe in rather than what I look like. That’s what it’s all about and the rest is just pretty wrapping. Also, I’m so sorry you had that kind of mother too. It didn’t make me hate women either but it did create life-long insecurities, it did make it hard to trust people and it did send me on that path of destruction when it comes to relationships, i.e. going for the cold, “bad” boys because your instinct is to go for what you know and what you think you deserve. I won’t bore you with all that, it’s the same old story that most unloved children have lived.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I totally get that. Life-long insecurities, people will say ‘suck it up’ and aside wanting to break their jaw for saying that, you want to shout FUCK YOU FUCK YOU because you HAVE sucked it up and yet it burns, like anything that’s scalding your soul and what the fuck do they know about that type of mental torment or rejection? Easy for the ones in the light to say, let’s all ZEN it out and everything’s going to be okay? Except when it’s NOT. I prefer a slice of reality with my life. That’s why YOUR writing works because it doesn’t compromise. I think i’ve hit the damn nail on the head finally. Like you, the hard to trust, the destruction, tick, tick, and I can only say that it makes me admire the hell out of you EVEN more because a survivor who is a beautiful soul despite the rends, well hell, that ain’t easy and only the survivors can tell. It doesn’t bore me, what bores me are the people who exist without empathy, compassion or a soul. Did you ever see that film with Charlotte Gainsborough about her and her brother? That and the original version of Nikita, spoke to me at the time, because it was along those lines. The other one that does was the book le grand meaulnes because it’s that starvation. privation. Anyway girl, you have the grit of a super hero in my eyes.

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  11. This is an amazing story Nathalie. Your “beautiful” shines so brilliantly in your words. Thank you for your strength in sharing this with us.
    I hope your day is filled with many beautiful moments…
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You may find my comment amusing baffling or heaven knows what, you see I’ve returned to this post many times, seriously, and note I both understand your incredulity and the gentleman commenter’s sentiment. Why you may ask, why remember? Yes beauty is skin deep, depression doesn’t give attractive people a free pass over the less pretty, I understand that completely but beauty can and does make an attractive woman’s life easier, yet you are so surprised? I’ve witnessed this from afar throughout my life, even now, we have a very attractive 17 year admin trainee at work and you should see the way middle aged married men dote on her, flirt, will do anything she asks, and lol she understands how to play the game 😀 giggle and we’re wrapped around her little finger! I’m hoping you won’t be offended but for some reason this post is embedded in my mind? All very odd.

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    1. Well, if a 17 year old “plays the game” and men fall over themselves to indulge her then they are kinda sad, if you don’t mind me saying. I don’t understand it myself, mainly because I don’t “go for looks” I suppose, but I really don’t. Men or women, people have to have personality and be interesting to get my attention. Even when I was a teenager, I never went with looks. The most amazing looking man has always left me totally cold if that’s all he has to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. :/ Hmmm I may have ‘over egged my pudding’ so to speak, she’s a delightful young lady with a bubbly personality and definitely not calculating (but lol she knows) and we’re respectful appropriate men and definitely not what’s going on in British Courts at present. I work for a famous University and well I’ll work through my lunch hour for any student who’s polite friendly interesting whichever sex, anyways thank you for replying, and I take your point completely beauty is skin deep 😀 but I can’t help thinking my life would have been slightly easier if I was as handsome as my brother……….. and I’m not joking!

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