html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I wouldn't trade it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I wouldn't trade it.

Some kind person left this comment under the entry about fun:

I stumbled upon your blog quite by accident, and just wanted to say that you are strikingly beautiful.

I hope you find the fun you are looking for, and have an outstanding life.

I am flattered and grateful. Thank you. But I also hope those ideas aren’t linked; surely the author isn’t wishing me an outstandingly fun life because I am beautiful.

I am very pretty. I have been since I grew through an excruciatingly awkward puberty. It is an amazing gift. Being pretty adds a constant note of grace to my life. I’m sure it eases all my interactions in ways I don’t realize. Being pretty is also nothing I have earned. It is not an accomplishment and I don’t deserve any of what it brings. I don’t deserve an outstanding life for being pretty, or assumptions that I am a better person, or free stuff, or strangers demanding my attention, or jealous assumptions that I’m poaching someone’s man, or the slight but frequent pressure of being under a gaze.

I almost never bring the pretty. My clothes are nondescript and comfortable. I rarely wear makeup. My hair goes in a ponytail as soon as it is dry. I try to never interact with people on the basis of my appearance. If I ignore it and be goofy and enthusiastic or dorky and technical or even just regular, people will usually follow those cues; soon I’m one of the guys again. I occasionally want to use the pretty for some purpose. I’ll get dressed to host a party, when being beautiful casts a glamour on the evening and offers respect to my guests. I loved being trophy on my ex’s arm because I wanted to reflect well on him. I desperately wanted to be beautiful to him, some to keep his attention and some to give him the pleasure of my appearance.

There are good ways and bad ways for me to look beautiful. When I was in college I competed with the taekwondo team. Twice a year I would drop weight to fight as a middleweight. Twice a year I would watch as people stared more at me, stopped me more on the street, paid more compliments, paid more attention to me. By coincidence, the threshold where men started acting very strange was within a pound of my goal weight. The last week before nationals, when I was fasting to lose the last pound, men would turn to walk backward, walk into things, come up to me but say nothing, tug on my clothes and hand me things. I was coming home from workout late night a couple days before my last nationals, when I walked past a group of men. One guy, overweight, redhead, was watching me approach, so I caught his eye and smiled. Completely involuntarily, he shouted in full voice “YOU’RE GORGEOUS!”. Of course I thanked him, but by the time I got home I was so mad I was shaking. “That’s it? That’s all I have to do? Work out three hours a day, six days a week, for months? Not eat for a week? Hurt all the time? And for that, you’ll think I’m pretty?” It is not worth it.

By contrast, the picture in my profile is one of the best I have ever taken. I hope that is what my friends see when they look at me, because I can only think that picture came out like it did because I was with so many people I love. Every good thing in the world was happening just as Chris took that picture. Christy was finishing making apple pie. Anand and I were drinking margaritas and playing cards; we were about to deal Joe in. Dan and Eric were talking on the couch. Chris was wandering through, taking pictures of us to put on Hot or Not. We had another night and day left in the weekend, all talking in combinations and sleeping in a pile, and I knew we were so lucky to be together. In that picture I am laughing and joyful and that is how I want to be beautiful.

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Blogger grant said...

I think the comment in question is definitely wishing you the "fun and outstanding" life because you're one of those rare web-folk that seem like a sincere and geniuinely nice person. It feels like you're honest about why and what you write here. You don't seem to be here to build a readership so you can monetize your blog (which is ridiculously easy for an attractive woman on the web).

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are strikingly beautiful on the inside, too.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[begin voice of chinese wiseman]

Man who bites candy breaks teeth.

[end voice]

I made that up. Deep, eh?

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Being pretty is also nothing I have earned."

What things in our lives can we truly say we have "earned"? Why should "earning it" be a meaningful criteria?

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guarantee is was the margaritas. A girl who appreciates margaritas properly is always beautiful.

Especially since last week was Cinco de Mayo

5:05 PM  
Blogger Scott Calvert said...

Life's full of good and bad fortune that one does/does not necessarily deserve before the fact. Similar to what you're reaching for I tend to like the notion of deserving the good things that come my way. The outlook that works for me is to consider good fortune can be earned after the fact by using the gifts well.

In my case I was given the dubious gift of an above average IQ coupled with an unusual abillity to maintain "bending a fork with my mind" levels of concentration for long periods of time. I was born with it seemingly randomly.

Knowing this characteristic is unique and at least moderately powerful I've made specific choices about how I conduct my life that go under the "use it for good not evil" category. I work very hard to avoid putting effort into manipulating people because I could be very good at it. I pursue a very low drama approach to engineering, keeping the good of the world at large, the organization I'm working for, and the good of my coworkers in the front of my brain almost all the time. I've chosen to avoid working directly on weapons systems. In my personal life I try to develop a sense for each person's unique viewpoint and use my ability to manage data to enhance my capacity for empathy. Basically I conciuously work to make my skills useful beyond their capacity to bring me attention and trinkets.

I don't know you personally but I'll take the liberty of some inferences. It seems unlikely that you've chosen to tie very many mens' dicks in knots with your looks. It seems unlikely that you've plotted to make other women feel less about themselves because of any physical diferences. You've chosen to project a personal style that is light and happy and open. You've avoided making your looks the keystone of your self esteem. These things aren't necessarily easy and they are in stark contrast to what many physically attractive women do.

The payoff I get from my efforts to do good with my gifts is that I get to enjoy their fruits without guilt or shame. Anyway, that's how it works for me.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost always hate joining choruses of men adoring a single woman but it is hard in this instance. Almost every week I find a new reason to say to myself, "I hope I find the Midwest version of her someday."
It's quite a joy to discover a woman who can be so unpretensious and insouciant when she's so strikingly attractive.
You've probably got more real men who harbor secret crushes on you than you'll ever realize.

8:12 PM  
Blogger bobvis said...

"Being pretty is also nothing I have earned."

But that's not really true, is it?:

“That’s it? That’s all I have to do? Work out three hours a day, six days a week, for months? Not eat for a week? Hurt all the time? And for that, you’ll think I’m pretty?”

I agree with anonymous that we should focus less on whether something has been 'earned' or not. I know this is difficult (especially for Megan, because she has earlier admitted that she is Old Testament.)

That said, I as a guy do try to minimize the mental value I place on how pretty a woman is. I'm combatting millions of years of evolution, but it's a battle I hope to win. Someday, I hope to give a woman the same amount of credit for being pretty as I give to them for finding a good parking spot.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Being pretty is also nothing I have earned."

Yes and no. It is true that you are almost certainly genetically gifted in appearance/health/attractiveness to males. But that does not mean that is all there is to it. From what I know of you on your blog, you are vegetarian, and thus probably eat healthy foods on a regular basis. You are athletic. And I would also guess that despite rarely dressing up or going out of your way to be pretty, you are fairly good with the grooming/hygiene.

You may think that giving up meat and unhealthy foods, jogging instead of watching TV, and brushing your hair are fairly trivial matters. But you've already sacrificed more and worked harder than many, many women who have the same genetic potential as you to be pretty, but are not.

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“That’s it? That’s all I have to do? Work out three hours a day, six days a week, for months? Not eat for a week? Hurt all the time? And for that, you’ll think I’m pretty?” It is not worth it.

Megan - was it worth it for TKD nationals? If so, why is abusing your body worthwhile for some goals but not others? What are legitimate and illegitimate reasons to simulate an eating disorder?

9:49 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

how many of the people who read your blog religiously and provide overwhelmingly positive and often obsequious feedback on your person and personality are women? i don't know you so i have no idea whether you elicit this sort of ridiculousness because you're a whore for attention or because you're just so cool you can't help it, but i think it's amusing that an entry on how you didn't earn your good looks has gotten you so many compliments from men.

11:04 AM  
Blogger bobvis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:41 PM  
Blogger bobvis said...

I know I'm not supposed to feed the troll, but...

Capella, the reason they compliment her (which, I didn't), is that this is a fun place--largely because Megan writes fun posts. You might say that the compliments are being laid on too thick, but why assume it's the blog author's fault?

I do have to admit that it has occurred to me that Megan is almost a little *too* attractive to be real. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets outed someday
like Libertarian Girl was.

7:44 PM  
Blogger matt said...

Pictures don't write words. And I adore your prose, Megan. So, thank you for that.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Capella,
I've wondered the same thing - how many of my readers are men. I thought all the compliments were a little silly too. Still, I'll go back to them on some bad day to be cheered up.

Bob V.,
If I seem *too* attractive to be true, it is 'cause I'm only showing y'all the good side. From the Archives is not a rough draft. I put up a good picture of me and I work at the posts and I don't post about me being petty and small and frustrated. That said, I would frickin' LOVE to be outed as fiction or a committee. It would be excellent to meet the authors of me.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Judging by your profile photo alone, I don't find you mind-numbingly pretty.

I do find your blog personality very attractive - intelligent, humorous, humane and well-informed. The kind of person whom I could really get along with if I weren't so dysfunctional.

Note - "attractive" here means "interesting", not "Gawd-I-want-a-piece-of-that!"

3:43 AM  
Blogger bobvis said...

What committee? I never mentioned a committee. I think the thin veneer you hide behind is starting to crack. Rest assured that I will not stop until I expose you for the small, unlovable cadre of LISP programmers that you are.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let that silly notion that some men are complimentary and say flattering things to women because we're sincere and enjoy telling women that we appreciate them.
Bar the idea any of us may be well-intentioned, thoughtful men who were pointed here by sites like MarginalRevolution and are intrigued by what Megan says.
Without bitter cynics all of us patronizing, self-serving men would do nothing but take advantage of the pie-in-the-sky, optimistic, happy women in the world. Thank goodness for social chastity belts.

4:20 PM  

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