Friday, August 24, 2007

You don't have to be pretty ... or ... wish I'd said that

Venus Beauty Institute (1999)

I've been watching a lot of French film lately. I dearly love Audrey Tautou since seeing her in Amelie. I want to devote an entire post to Amelie, but today I would like to talk about the actress to the left. The wonderful Nathalie Baye.

I adored her in this movie. She's mean, she's unsettled, she's lonely, she's sad. And she's just too damn tired to give a shit that she's mean, unsettled, lonely and sad. She's way too tired to put on makeup and fix her hair, which is ironic because she works in the beauty industry. But somehow, her beauty still peeks through, and when she is gentle with her clients you sometimes get a glimpse of what she was before life was too cruel to her. A passionate man falls in love with her exactly the way she is.

I found myself identifying with this character. I'm no where near as mean as she (I hope), but some find my sensitivity challenging.   As a sensitive, artistic soul, I've never fit in corporate America so have not been able to achieve much success. But the days where I cared about that are long gone.

Several years ago, I left a good job. Well, truthfully, it didn't pay all that well, the benefits were good. But they wanted my entire life. I often worked until midnight, weekends, holidays. On those rare occasions I was home, my employer called.  A lot.  Even when I was sick.  I didn't have a vacation nor a raise in four years, and I was supposed to feel lucky that I had a job.  That's what they told me.  My existence was sleep, work, eat (usually at my desk), sleep, eat, work..... I never had time to do anything else.  They told me if I was unhappy that I should leave.  So I did.  Without having a new job lined up. A careless mistake that I paid dearly for.  But what do you do when you are so unhappy?

Since then my goal has been to simplify my life. I have an easier job that pays much less. A very small place, less stuff (could actually even have less). And...I'm beginning to feel happier.

As I watched Nathalie's character over and over, I figured a few things out. It's okay not to be pretty. And I thought a lot about an essay I discovered last year on this topic.

You don't have to be pretty. It's okay if you are not. Pretty is not a requirement, it should be fun, if it's what you choose and what you are comfortable with. Sometimes not having to be pretty is a luxury and is so freeing. At my current job, I can wear jeans and tennis shoes. I don't even have to wear makeup. Now here's the thing. My mother would shit if she read this. I often come to work with wet hair pulled into a bun and no makeup. I used to scurry on the street in dark glasses feeling ashamed, hoping I didn't see anyone I knew. No more. I walk with my head up. I don't have to be pretty, I don't owe it to anyone. If I feel like being pretty, I will. Right now what I feel like is freedom and comfort.

I walk down the street joyously sans panty hose. I marvel that my feet don't hurt for the first time in my life. And it's almost sexual to be able to rub my eyes. Perhaps being that comfortable with yourself is true beauty. We definitely need to give up all judgment of ourselves and others and just be easy.

Afterall, Nathalie's character found love without even trying, and maybe that's the lesson. Maybe we don't need to try so hard. Maybe just being comfortable with yourself is enough.

There is an amazing essay written by Erin at A Dress a Day, called "You don't have to be pretty." I have reread this essay about 100 times. Very profound. If I return to substitute teaching, I plan to share this with all young girls. I would like to encourage all women to read this essay.  Wish I'd written it. Erin and Nathalie, thanks for being an inspiration.

1 comment:

vineeta said...

To write like you do- gutsy. I admire the way you can put it all out there for everyone to see. i also read the essay Erin wrote. brilliant! I have forwarded the link to many women :) thanx for sharing this. For a while now, I have ben wearing wearing floaters and keds on a daily basis & so half my 'pretty' wardrobe lies unused.

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