“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” my Dad said as he was backing out of the driveway of Grandma’s house (his mother). I remember sitting in the backseat of our old Buick in the ’70s as a little girl and this is one of the few things my father said off the cuff that sank into my little brain like a brick floating to the bottom of the lake. Aren’t those odd moments when your mind picks up what someone teaches you and for some nebulous reason, you never forget it! While it’s happening, you can feel how heavy and solid their words are and you have no idea why.
For God’s sake, as an adult, I realize that so much of my father’s values didn’t square with his behavior, but sometimes it did. Is that incongruity, that double-dipping into our own psyche just part of being human? He lusted after Barbara Eden right in front of us as children but we always thought it was funny because Mom looked very much like her, so that was ok. He always paid the bills and went to work, ran for public office and attended church three times a week, but the hypocrisy was generally there in other ways.
This post isn’t about my father, but he and my mother both instilled in me, actually by a good example, that life was not about looks or climbing a social ladder and neither of them did it either. Sure, there were family secrets, but on this score, they rated high. They really taught me not to objectify myself, even though I was very pretty and talented from a young age. Mom did some anyway, but Dad countered it, maybe as a kind of competition with her and his freedom training won the day with me. My mom did not get her way.
I recently just heard about beauty bias. That may sound lame but I don’t pay much attention to or take seriously, how people look. I take care of myself, have lost weight, and naturally look 45 even though I’m 56. I’m not trying to. I just live healthily. Now I am seriously treated differently by men and women. The men are coming after me more, even the ones in their twenties and the women are competing with me or maybe jealous and treating me worse. They’re going to have a hard time hating me though because I’ve been to hell and back with men I love dying. Their pity and sympathy may counter their jealousy for a bit longer. I’m sure their conscience will twist and knot around them if they start to go into that dark tunnel. I’m so aware of how the percentages change based on social expectation. “Why is she doing so well when she’s been through what no normal person goes through?” must be the question ringing in their heads. I think it’s hilarious. Because they don’t have an answer, I’m treated a bit like a leper, a miscreant, a freak.
This post isn’t about them either. Beauty and intelligence bias which is seriously real and has been well-documented is repugnant to me and seriously foisted on those of us that have a plethora of both like a millstone around our necks. It’s just more superficial garbage from a culture that knows no bounds to objectification. My value system and my heart seriously care about most human beings and sees the world through spiritual eyes…because I want to; because I can. I haven’t absorbed the values of our larger society or our world. As my alcoholic sister say’s to me, “You’re a freak! Maybe she’s right which means I’m also a selfish bitch by her estimation. Never mind her. I know I’m neither of those things and I do love myself and the life I’ve chosen. The woman was born hating herself and her life and has learned very little during the time she’s been given. There is no way my parents could have treated her worse than she’s treated herself and others.
This post isn’t about her either. It’s just amazing the masks we all have to wear to explain these outside layers. How does anyone really know who we are, including ourselves? Writers know that the books we write ARE judged by their covers and we’re told to spend plenty of time and money picking it out. It’s the magnet for people to buy the book. But how many people actually read the book? Maybe they just look at the cover.
My book “Healer” is about how beauty bias objectification from men toward me has ruined every job I’ve ever been in and slowed down my progress to be taken seriously for my skill, ideas, and intelligence. I don’t think I’ll ever be healed from that shit until I’m dead but I’m sure not going to stop talking or writing even though people’s brains can barely listen to a word I, or others like me, say because my eyes are so sparkly. Gee, just try.