I think a lot about beauty, really. The stars just as the sunlight fades—that’s beauty. The look of hot, fresh coffee, steaming in a clean white mug—also beauty, though the beauty is in the smell as much as the look of the thing.
But what about people and their beauty? Sports Illustrated has recently taken some flak for putting a “plus size” woman on its famed Swimsuit Edition. I’ve been fat (code word: “plus size”) most of my life—way before the rest of America joined me in its companionable obesity epidemic. And one thing I understand intimately: fat is not beautiful, at least not in any kind of conventional imagining. It’s shame-making. Why is that?
Another shame-making fact: I have floppy boobs. I always have. Big, but floppy. What’s wrong with that? Let me count the ways: everything. Everything is wrong with that. “It’s the breastfeeding,” well-intentioned women with not-as-floppy boobs say. Nope. In fact, it’s not. They were floppy before. “It doesn’t matter,” my husband of 25 years says. And it doesn’t seem to matter to him in the least. But it matters to me. I can tell you that no one on the cover of Sports Illustrated has ever had breasts even remotely shaped like mine are. I’ve looked, sisters. I’ve looked.
Forget the boobs, though, and the fat. The other day, I looked at one of my thirteen year old daughter’s friends. This little gal has a slender, athletic body. She has bouncy, blond hair. And really marked facial acne. And I found myself thinking: what a shame. She’s such a pretty girl, too bad about the acne. But then I thought: Shit, Jennifer. What if acne is just another thing? Like your floppy boobs? Just another thing that happens to bodies. Acne doesn’t kill people. Floppy boobs don’t either. I spend a shit load of time wondering what makes things beautiful, it turns out. What if we were beautiful til proven ugly? And what if ugly was something like meanness? Gnarly emotional manipulation? What if beauty was just people being themselves?
Well, I don’t know. Because I’m just as fucking judge-y as everyone else. But I like the idea of a world where teeny tiny boobs and giant floppy boobs are equally beloved. Where a clear-skinned adolescent has nothing on her peer with a rosy, textured skin surface. Where fat people and bony people are all beautiful, because beauty equals goodness. How would that work in this life, taking into account evolutionary biology, anthropology, and everything else that’s out of our control?
I’m quite sure I have no fucking idea. But I like the concept. It’s beautiful.
Writing is like a really good workout. Ouch. Fuck. Wow, I'm glad I did that. (Follow with coffee and chocolate.)