Lately, when attending social functions with my parents, one of their friends comes up to me to ask if I’m seeing anybody. While this alone is something I find offensively invasive, it’s the response I get when I say “I’m single” that really burns. “But you’re so pretty!” They always say. Maybe I’m greedy or not sufficiently humble to take the compliment at face value, but the implication behind it is something I find incredibly unsettling.
If I’ve learned anything over years of disappointing dating experiences, it’s that looks don’t matter that much. They don’t. It’s very convenient to blame them when things go awry, but the reality is that the problem isn’t getting someone to be attracted to me. The real challenge is getting that someone to stick around, and, frankly, looks alone aren’t enough.
Well, thanks, aforementioned older ladies, for the compliment. I know I’m pretty. I know because guys have always seemed to stick around just long enough to hook up with me before bowing out, at best, blaming the lack of connection or chemistry. Thanks for reminding me that I have nothing to offer in a relationship beyond my body.
It’s interesting that no one ever seems to care about my level of education, or what I do for a living. No one cares about the fact that I work hard at building strong muscles as long as they look good in a bikini. I marvel at the look on a man’s face when something remotely intelligent escapes my lips, as if my lips serve no function beyond decoration. World, I’m not a doll.
I like to think that the best things about me come from my brain. I feel good about my wit and compassion, and I have an unusual sense of humor. Whenever I hear “but you’re so pretty” it only serves to remind me of all the times a man has looked at me and said, “you’re great, but…” You know what? I am great, and it’s not because I’m pretty. I’m great because in spite of all the times I’ve been made to feel that I’m not enough, I still believe that there is someone out there who will look at me one day and say, “you’re great.” No ifs, ands, or buts.
See, that’s the trouble with all of this. When someone says “but you’re so pretty,” what’s really being said is that I should expect to be wanted for being pretty, when what I really want is to be wanted for being, well, me. I’m sure it sounds like a cliché by now, but the only relationships I can think of that are based on physical beauty don’t seem like such great relationships. I want a life filled with laughter, deep conversations late into the night, and spirited political debates over take out and a cheap bottle of wine. I know attraction is the first step, but the first step is easy. It’s all the steps that follow that make up the life I hope I’ll have.
The world is full of beautiful women. If I genuinely have nothing to offer beyond my looks, there is no hope, because there will always be someone prettier. I have hope because while there may be women out there are who are prettier, smarter and kinder than I am, no one else possesses that unique blend of qualities and quirks that make up who I am, and hey, I’m great.