I was washing my hands in the bathroom at work today and I glanced in the mirror, which I usually avoid because the lighting is terrible and I always look tired. I never look the way I expect to, somehow. The way I used to. The way I feel. But I glanced at myself anyway and then I looked closer and then I wondered if I should wear more makeup. Or less makeup. If my hair was too short. If I looked tired (I looked tired). And then I wondered if or why any of that mattered.
Then I remembered this picture of director Guillermo del Toro speaking at an event earlier this month, which struck me because of how comfortable he looks. This is not a man who's thinking he needs to suck in his stomach because he's sitting in front of an audience. This is just a man sitting.
And tonight I read this article on Laura Dern in New York Magazine:
Ladd and Dern separated when Laura was 2 years old, and she grew up surrounded by outspoken, independent women — her mother’s friends from her Actors Studio days in New York City: Maureen Stapleton, Jean Stapleton, Gena Rowlands, and Geraldine Page. “They never cared about being glamorous, and that was what made them so glamorous to me — and sexy! They were just like men. I didn’t see a difference. They all wanted to be in the mud.” Dern has a vivid recollection of attending the premiere of Superman in 1978, when she was 11. She and her mother were the guests of one of the stars, another Actors Studio grad, Marlon Brando. Also in attendance: the actress Shelley Winters, Dern’s godmother.
“I remember getting out of the car,” says Dern, “and the red carpet was filled with glitz and glamour, women in gowns and high heels. And there was Shelley, wearing jeans with Tretorn sneakers and a gray sweatshirt, a full-length mink coat balanced on her shoulders. No makeup, her hair kind of messy. It was so fierce. And I remember thinking, I want to be that kind of woman.”
Have I ever gotten a job because of the way I look? No. Have I ever lost one? No. But I also haven't netted any husbands, which is surprising when I'm perfectly flawless in every way. Yet I'll remain clean, clothed, and groomed, which is all the world should expect from me from now on.
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
I would get a tattoo of that on my arm, if I had longer arms.