“You’re Pretty, You’ll Find Someone”
It’s midnight in Barcelona and I’m seated next to Daniel whose quick-witted charm has caught my attention. Only before I have the chance to flaunt my quirky American humor, he breaks into a soliloquy about his beautiful French girlfriend. As though he’s Romeo himself, he carries on for several minutes about how it was love from the start between them. I smile while sipping a near-empty glass of sangria. Then he turns to me and asks, “Have you ever been in love?”
I hesitate to answer his question. Even if I did have a robust romantic history to ramble on about, it seems any love story would wail in comparison. Instead, I offer up a slight shrug of the shoulders and a more honest answer than I’d care to give, “I’m not sure.”
“It’s okay. You’re pretty, you’ll find someone.”
These words slip from his tongue almost effortlessly. To me, they feel like a shallow attempt at reassurance. Pity poorly disguised. But something about the way his eyes meet mine makes me think he means this. Although that doesn’t make it any better. It might actually be worse this way.
To offer this remark as assurance, however complimentary it may be, seems perfunctory at best. It’s much like the kind of half-hearted thing you’d say to a friend who got stuck in the rain on the way to the party. “No, you look great. You’ll be dry in no time.” Never mind the mascara running down her cheek or the trail of water droplets she’s left behind on the hardwood.
However, to say this with sincerity, and to yourself believe in its simplicity, to presume that if X is A, then together X and A must yield B, feels like an insult delivered with the utmost discretion. Because yes, just as the fairytales and romantic comedies have told us, looks are all that really matter. Why should we bother to be anything else?
Maybe I sound as though I’m being a bit overly sensitive. But if it’s not Daniel then it’s the Uber driver suggesting that my friend’s wedding in Florida could be where I find my future husband (I resist telling him that Florida is the last place I’d look). Or a friend who, though he means well, tells you that you’re more attractive than you realize.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: men, please stop “comforting” women by telling us that our looks will help us find love. I’m not denying that appearances matter and that physical attraction is important. But as a woman, I don’t need the reminder.
Sure, there are times when it is nice to be complimented on my appearance. But then again, isn’t the desire to be admired what fuels my insecurities? I know that I am more than my looks alone. Yet here I am being sucked into targeted ads on Instagram for face creams and foundation promising an “air-brushed” look.
Despite my best attempts to ignore society’s beauty standards, I struggle to quiet the indoctrinated voice in my head. I succumb to the notion that I am flawed. There is always something to fix. Something to enhance. Something to cover. It frustrates me to think of all the money I’ve spent on eyelash-lengthening mascaras, smokey eyeshadows, primer to apply before and setting powder for after. But more than anything, I resent that underneath the confidence-boosting bullshit I tear from the marketing label and use to rationalize my choices, part of me does hope he will notice.
We’ve all watched that scene where the man picks the beautiful woman out of the crowd. And as much as I like to think I’m above this, that I wear red lipstick because of how it makes me feel, there is also a small part of me, who has perhaps been trained, to hope that one day that beautiful girl will be me. Because when they said, “you’re pretty, you’ll find someone,” they really meant, so long as you’re pretty, a man will find you.