Pretty is as Pretty Does

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for pretty. Ever since I fell in love with Morten Harket at the tender age of 7 because of his velociraptor like cheekbones and piercing eyes (sigh), I have battled becoming an idiot every time an attractive person said hello to me.

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Somebody loves themselves…

Thankfully for me this wasn’t often.
My adolescent years were spent in hoodies, playing Sega and training for that inevitable moment when a cyborg incapacitated me and I’d need to use all my upper body strength to escape. I was the go-to-girl for other nerds who wanted to find out about my attractive and more female looking friends.
The most attention I got was being stalked from the library a few times and a couple of weird calls from an asthmatic who couldn’t even bring himself to say anything. That’ll teach me to be vocal on the yearbook committee.

I levelled up my dating game in Mexico, a place where most women are dolled up to the nines, caked in makeup and curling their eyelashes with a spoon the second a traffic light goes red. The minute I succumbed to some of those beauty standards, handsome men dropped their cloaking devices and I was dating a much more objectively attractive category of man.

I’m cute, but I also come covered in food and with a finger puppet obsession. Not really the girlfriend of choice for underwear models. But in the disguise of a dress and some lipstick, said models were piggybacking me home at the end of the night.

For a while I was living the ‘date sexy’ dream. The thing is more often than not these guys were nothing special. They were painfully average. Sometimes even below average. I once dated a guy who thought the expression was ‘escape goats’. The same guy thought he was entitled to preferential treatment everywhere he went because, you know, his face. I guess when you’re treated like royalty because you lucked out in the gene pool stakes you start believing the hype.

The thing about the handsome bubble is that it couldn’t exist if it wasn’t facilitated and enabled by people outside the bubble. It’s a wonder these already inflated egos haven’t exploded with all the ego pumping going on. Mediocre writers being encouraged to start lifestyle blogs, monosyllabic banter boys being encouraged to become motivational speakers.

Why are we enabling these people? My friend Diana (gorgeous both inside and out) once said to me that she didn’t really give attractive people much time, they had to prove there was more to them than genetics. I’m inclined to agree.

The halo effect has us giving kudos, opportunity and even money to people with no real skill other than the fact their chromosomes lined up real nice. On the flip side, less attractive people are actually more likely to be attributed negative qualities, and considered to be ‘inherently bad‘. It’s a crazy world.

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A few years back an older, cooler and stunning friend told me she’d met Morten Harket at the height of his fame (and hotness). She’d approached him for an autograph and without even looking at her he scribbled his name on a napkin and handed it over without pausing his conversation. She took one look at it and dropped it on the floor before heading over to talk to Simon le Bon. He was really lovely apparently.

Pretty is as pretty does I guess.

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It’s Everyone’s Problem

 

I’m a people person. Everyone knows this. There’s nothing that warms my heart more than meeting a kindred spirit.  There’s something reassuring about finding another person whom you have something in common with. All it takes are two little words of solidarity to make a large and anonymous world less lonely: Me too.

But when that common ground is a collective experience of harassment and abuse we all need to pay attention. Men and women. This isn’t a random phenomenon like the sky turning yellow. This is an indicator of the extent of harassment, aggression and assault within our society. And it needs to change.

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We’re no longer living in an age where a man can drag his chosen woman back to the cave. But it’s an age where a guy can show you his dick, make you feel unsafe on your journey home and violate your personal space with little or no fear of retribution.

Harvey Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator has reignited a polemical outpouring in the media on an age old issue. But whether this will lead to any real change in male attitudes and society’s treatment of women is yet to be seen. Let’s not forget that only a year ago the pussy grabbing President of the USA  was caught on camera bragging about his ‘conquests’. That bombshell didn’t stop him getting elected. What was also troubling was it didn’t stop women from voting for him.

Who’s responsible?

It angers me that a discussion on harassment and assault is inevitably dragged back to the role the victims have to play in the situation. Let’s be clear, there’s one problem here and that’s the predatory males victimising and manipulating women. However, every time something like this comes out women are asked to reassess what it is we’re doing that’s driving the boys crazy.

Donna Karan’s mindless rhetoric in the wake of the Weinstein allegations raised more than an eyebrow. Was a woman whose fortune had been made selling sexy clothes and perfume to women really implying that women were asking for it? Ok, she took it back. She was jet lagged. Some of her best friends are women. We get it. But why does this argument always come back to how women act?

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Mayim Bialik’s op-ed in The New York Times is also problematic. A well educated actress and feminist, familiar with Hollywood, Bialik’s editorial reads like the cautionary tale of how awkward looks and demure dress sense steered her safe of sexual predators. Though she takes care not to do a Donna, and tell women they’re dressing too sexually, I wonder why she feels the need to highlight her opinion (after all it’s only an opinion) that her own looks had spared her the horrors of harassment. I always thought she was pretty.

Bialik’s insinuation that the pretty ones are the one’s getting harassed and assaulted is reductive. It’s why the Me Too status started. To show this a problem that happens to women. Period. Bialik’s focus on women building their esteem away from their appearance overlooks the way girls are sexualised by strange men every day. Whether they want to be or not. And in doing so it implies it’s the job of women to control men’s behaviour.

I won’t disagree that there is more to a woman than her looks. Indeed, a woman’s worth doesn’t lie in her push up bra and contour kit. But I don’t understand how a sexual predator’s actions have brought us to an after school special on female self esteem and worth. There is something patronising about the idea that a plainer gal, who models herself on Eleanor Roosevelt, would never be subjected to such misfortunes. It’s simply untrue.

People need to stop thinking this is the curse of the beautiful or provocative. This is a problem endemic to our society.  This doesn’t just happen to certain women. And it’s not a woman’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem and staying silent on the matter, ignoring it or trying to cover it up won’t get rid of it. The onus to change things isn’t only on women, it’s on men too.

#MeToo #HimThough #HowIWillChange

Year of the Monkey

It’s good to be impulsive. And occasionally life threatening.

It’s the year of the monkey. Naturally, I was born in the year of the monkey. Witty, sociable, easily bored, stubborn.

Sums me up perfectly I think.

No better time to get harnessed up and back on the face of a mountain.

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Coconut thief

It’s been a few years since I went boulder climbing. It used to be  a regular thing, but after my hand injury I didn’t trust my wrist to support my weight.

I didn’t know what to expect on the half day climb with The Rock Shop. I’d signed up for a beginners course because I was worried.

Climbing had been my way of dealing with my fear of heights. I don’t like to be scared, or limited. My way of handling fears is to throw myself into them. More than often the return is something beautiful. The views from the top. The reward of an isolated spot. It’s a risk, but one worth taking.

When I floundered on the first climb our guide grinned at me

“You can be good or bad, but you must have fun!”

He was right. Once the pressure was off, it was more fun.

After the day’s climb, the rest of the group wanted to grab food and see some of Railay. We were all keen to find the lagoon for a relaxing swim to end the day. We deserved a break.

Little did we know.

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Only 10 more metres…

We had assumed that it would be a calm walk, a couple of dips and then back to Tonsai.

The warning signpost and the exhausted faces of people scaling down from a point up into the mountain, should have been our first indicator this wasn’t going to be easy.

The route had ropes set up along the way. All you had to do was find your feet and hoist yourself up. Easy enough. I decided to pop my flip flops into my bag and go barefoot.

My feet still haven’t forgiven me.

When we finally reached the clearing at the top it dawned on us that we’d have to climb deeper down into the mountain to reach the lagoon. Unless there was an off chance this was a magical lagoon at the top of a mountain that defied gravity.

The downward descent to the lagoon was a little more than “strenuous” as the warning at the start of the ‘hike’ suggested.

We were lowering ourselves through slippery sharp rocks, climbing through narrow holes with back packs on and at times reaching around for a foothold, or handhold when we couldn’t see behind us. After my first slip and near fall onto craggy rocks, my faith in my wrist was completely restored.

It was a precarious climb to the bottom. But it was completely worth it. Photos don’t do it justice.

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Take the risk, reap the rewards

It’s the things we really work to get that bring us the greatest satisfaction.

I’m quite impulsive in the risks that I take. God knows how far this ‘All or nothing’ attitude will get me in Vegas in a few weeks.

Maybe it will get me out of student debt.