There’s a sad story making the rounds today. Samantha Brick wrote an article in the Daily Mail called ‘There are downsides to looking this pretty’: Why women hate me for being beautiful. In it, she claims perks from men such as flowers and free drinks, and discrimination from female bosses. She also says:
So now I’m 41 and probably one of very few women entering her fifth decade welcoming the decline of my looks. I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the grey hair that will help me blend into the background.
Perhaps then the sisterhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like, and instead accept me for who I am.
Wow. This is a woman with a small or no support system. A woman who appears to have her self-esteem tied up in her physical appearance. (And, possibly a woman who is working with poor managers. I could help with that!)
I know one thing: there are other sides to this story. I bet those people who appear to be discriminating against her have their perspectives on what actually happened.
Let me tell you what happens to me when I travel, even to the grocery store. People open doors for me–when I smile. People help me with items on the top shelf.
At the airport, very nice people help me through the security line. The people wearing Harley Davidson clothing seem to be the nicest. “Ma’am, can I help you with that?” is what I hear most often. And, if they have children with them, their children, often teenagers, offer to shepherd me from one place to another. Smiling all the time. I have to admit, if I see a Harley t-shirt, I break into a bigger grin. Harley people are the best! (No offense, all you other motorcyclers!)
If I have to wait in line somewhere, inevitably people see me with my cane and offer to move me up in line, especially if I smile. I have no idea if I’m weaving back and forth. I try hard to stand quite still when I stand up, clenching my glut’s and extending my hip flexors.
Why am I telling you this? Because I have accepted who I am. I am a short woman with a cane, and, I hope, an engaging smile. I use the smile to connect with people, to build rapport, in business, at the grocery store, at the mall, at the airport. I don’t do it to get something from people. I do it to connect with people. I try to remain independent, because I don’t know how long I can be independent. In the meantime, I am enjoying life. Part of my enjoyment is connecting with people.
I don’t know Ms. Brick. All I have are questions. Does she use her beauty to connect or build a barrier between her and the rest of the world? Is her beauty how she defines her self-esteem or her self-concept? If so, I pity her. She could be so much more than her beauty.
Self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-concept are a gordian knot. As long as you define yourself by something external, you will have a tough time. The more you define yourself by something internal, you will have an easier time.
I decided when I first started with this craziness, that I would act cheerful. I had a difficult time succeeding, until the medication I am on now. I found it difficult to act cheerful when the world went up and down every time I moved my head up and down.
Now, I have 2.5 years of acting cheerful. It’s become a way of life. Most of the time, I am cheerful. Not always, but often. I find that people respond to my cheerfulness.
I’m not beautiful. Oh, it doesn’t hurt to look at me. But, I was never a classic beauty. Too short, too curvy, too big-mouth, too something :-) But I have a smile people respond to. When I speak, whether it’s one-on-one, to a small group, or to a huge room, I engage people. That’s a form of “beauty,” I think.
So I will keep smiling. And, telling my stories when I speak. And staying cheerful. And working on my emotional resilience. And staying happy. I wonder if Ms. Brick ever is. Good luck, Ms. Brick.
- Emotional Resilience, Part 3, Strengthening Your Inner Selves
- Overconstraining the Problem