"Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things…" —Lorde, “Team”
I’m pregnant with my second child, and part of that involves being lumpy and bumpy and imperfect, although in fairness, ever since I had my first child, I’ve been plenty lumpy. It’s lucky, then, that I am having a love affair as of recent for numerous women artists who have lumps, bumps, and the occasional spot (the Brit’s polite term for acne). Certainly this is not the time to have a love affair with Gwyneth or Blake Lively— human form without flaws, bleached and waxed and tanned with robotic precision. No, it’s convenient and coincidental that Lena, Mindy, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, and the ladies of Haim are all on my radar and coming out of my speakers these days.
God, where were these women in 2001?
My history is rather short when it comes to beauty. It doesn’t take long to tell the story, which I’ve told on some level on this blog before. I was very thin, then I was not. I was young, then I was less young, then I had a child while still relatively young, but still— youth has the keys, is in the parking lot, not long before it really drives away. I think that’s likely the story of most women. Youth is revered; lines are shameful. I read a recent article about growing older being a gift from God— it is embarassing to say, but it blew me away just that someone was saying these words at all. I have a friend who is really into Crossfit (that intense exercise program where everyone uses acronyms and superlatives) and she has a series of shirts that say “death is winning” on them. So, it’s not exactly commonplace to hear that aging is and can be awesome and beautiful and in fact, fortunate and lucky. Aging means you are living.
I don’t know if I’m having a boy or a girl. I don’t have an opinion, because you really can’t have an opinion— what is the point in hoping for something you have no control over? Celebrate both options and be cheerful about them because they are both so awesome. I do hope at some point to have a daughter— through labor or adoption, something our family takes seriously and hopes to be able to do. When and if I am given that opportunity, I hope to impart some wisdom (surely to be ignored) about things I have learned about being a woman and being beautiful. The first thing I’d advise her on is to have a back-up plan. We don’t all get to capitalize on our lush hair and our firm breasts and our flat stomachs— and even those of us who do, only can capitalize for a limited time. Head down the path as if those assets don’t exist, aren’t there, won’t stay— because they won’t. The second thing I’d say is, it is wonderfully powerful to be beautiful— use it wisely. And the third thing I’d say to my daughter is, never let your body be your only project. I suppose this is the first item revisted, but the reality is women (many, many women) spend huge percentages of their lives with only one hobby: their appearance. It’s a hobby if you think about it five times a day or more, and if your ultimate aim is to be traditionally beautiful regardless of cost (financial, emotional, or physical). It’s also a diety at that point, but that’s a discussion for another day.
That said, I can’t think of more beautiful women out there right now than the sparkly-eyed Mindy Kaling, the gawky and wise Lorde, the vulnerable Lena Dunham, and the serious Haim sisters. If you must pursue beauty, daughter, please pursue this beauty— because this is the type that lasts, like Lauren Hutton’s gap-toothed and bare-faced purity, or my aunt Page’s never-ending hospitality of spirit. Thank God for this moment with these ladies.