action · adulthood · beauty · courage · fear · self-esteem

Isn’t It Ironic, Don’tcha Think?




The curvature of our lives is funny, isn’t it?
Like most people, I was an acne-riddled, ugly-glasses
wearing teen with unruly hair and a limited rotation of ill-fitting clothing. I
remember when I was 16, I was at a retreat for Jewish teens, and we were sitting
around in a circle on some Saturday night, singing the service that ends
Shabbat. All us nervous, hormone-addled teens in one place! And there started a
“kissing chain” around the circle–on the cheek, modest-style. The boy sitting
next to me had to kiss me two times as the chain came around twice, and I remember hearing him “whisper” to his
friend that he tried to kiss a spot that didn’t have a zit on it, but he
couldn’t find one.
Kids are mean, sure. But, there is a thick stripe of “Ugly
Duckling” syndrome down the center of my story.
Once, in middle school, in a stroke of self-esteem beyond
that of usual, I answered a modeling casting call at Nordstrom. My mom
supported me and came with me, and I just filed behind some other girls in a
line in front of some auditors, hoping, Kate Moss-like, that someone would
pluck me out of my angsty teen life and whisk me away to something fabulous and
without blemish. (You can assume that didn’t happen.)
What happened instead is I got to live the angsty life I was
handed, and nearly 20 years after that cattle-call, be asked to do it again.
I still haven’t sent in those photos to the real-people
modeling agents. But, (maybe) I’m closer. The only time I was ever approached to
be a model was when I’d shaved my head when I was 21 and was wandering around
Manhattan looking for a savior. A man approached and said he was an agent for
bald models, and his business card did actually have a bald model on it.
(Instead I went to the asylum, but I digress.)
This Christmas, while busking in Union square, I was
approached by another modeling agent, and I followed up with a call, and was
told to submit my photos. To send them by print. There’s so much resistance to
this! Is it the Ugly Duckling saying they’re only conning you? The girl with
the acne no one will look past? Or just the ennui and hopelessness of a woman
engaged in a professional life that saps her energy and enthusiasm?
In whatever case, and whatever resistance, it’s not up to
me, is it?
I had a mentor once tell me, G-d will either fulfill your
desires, or take them away. I sort of believe that. The urges and wishes and
ideals and fantasies that we have; either they’ll morph into something else;
they’ll fade; or they’ll be met. How many of us desperately wanted that X Y or
Z, and having not gotten it, later exclaim, jeez, I can’t believe I really wanted
What I’ve really been thinking about though, is the irony of
having become someone people consider beautiful, which has necessitated the
desire to be seen for more than my
beauty. I find it a cosmic raspberry that after so many years of being the
awkward, painfully shy, unseen thing, I now
want people to stop seeing me for my exterior
I think your soul is sexy, he wrote me.
Followed surely by a nice bought of sexting. But, Still.
What a curvature of life, eh? To become the beauty you
always wanted to be, but then want people to look past it? It’s odd; I dunno, I
don’t have a more well-thought out way to put it.
But, I also know that part of what makes my soul sexy is that
I do things that scare me, like submit photos to agencies. I do things that I
don’t feel worthy of, and hope the self-worth follows by the esteem of doing
them. Right actions lead to right thinking, and all that.
I would like to list this check-box on my list of life
participations; just for the fact of trying. Like the acting; just for the act
of trying. I hear the screaming teen inside me saying This is WEIRD, but that’s okay. I can drag my feet and do it

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