I just had a sudden insight that I’m sure may have escaped your attention. Well, don’t feel bad. After all, I’m a genius, and you’re not. But you have a sweet spirit and will probably be spared when I conquer the earth. But that’s not a promise. Stop being so needy.
Anyway, my insight was about The Burden of Beauty. The capitals on The Burden of Beauty should clue you in that this will be our topic. Or really my topic. I’m writing, and you’re reading. It’s good to keep those roles straight.
Yes, it’s true that beautiful people get the best jobs, make the most money, get better care in emergency rooms and hospitals, receive more respect from their peers and loved ones, and live longer. These statements are all supported by statistics, and not ones I made up, either.
Naturally, you might think this would mean everyone would want to be beautiful or handsome as their gender may be, but let’s take a closer look at these beautiful people—and I don’t mean by hacking into the webcam on their computer or lurking outside their house at 3 a.m. until they call the police and get a protective order. I miss you, Dolly Parton.
But imagine, if you can, that you are a beautiful person. You have always been beautiful. In school, you were the football captain or head cheerleader, as your gender may be. You married another handsome and/or beautiful person, and you both have beautiful jobs. Naturally you have two or three beautiful children. You attend a beautiful church and play golf and/or tennis at the beautiful country club. Your life is just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And then you die beautifully and go to beautiful heaven... No, wait, that wasn’t where I was going with this.
It’s the mirror that trips you up. Around forty, you look in the mirror and discover to your horror that your face looks like a National Geographic relief map of the Grand Canyon. How did that happen? Just yesterday you were crushing some poor ugly person’s heart at the prom as you let him or her down gently.
Now you look ... old ... older ... not as young as you once did. Let’s just say somewhat less young and be done with it.
If you’re a woman—and some men— you hightail it to a plastic surgeon who pulls the skin on your face so tight that even mannequins look at you with horror. And you have other body parts tucked, bobbed, lipo-sucked, fat-vacuumed, and generally lifted until your knees are floating around your chest. You sigh in relief—which is the only noise you can make until your face relaxes.
The bad news is this is all temporary. Well, it’s good news for your plastic surgeon because he needs to keep up those alimony payments to his first through fourth wives. But the bad news for you is that gravity is relentless as is time, and baby, they’re coming for you no matter where you hide.
Think of what a burden it must be for a beautiful person to always have to fight to be beautiful or handsome as their gender may be. They never get any rest. They have to constantly worry about maintaining their looks. It’s a hard life. Of course, I know. Oh, how I know.
But you, you happy hideous thing, will never suffer as I have. I would almost trade lives with you. Oh, who am I kidding? No, I wouldn’t.
(Copyright 2015 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. From the forthcoming book Floozy Comes Back.)