Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beauty

When I see beauty this is what I see. I see youth. I see their energy and how their skin glows. Their skin is tight across their faces, there is no drooping or sagging. I see hair that is its own natural color. No need to hide the grey with peroxide products. Often I see long hair, cascading down a back, looking like the most beautiful piece of jewelry. A woman will always seem less naked if she has long hair. I see young bodies that are lithe, compact and trim. Once we were in a McDonalds and my husband said to me, look at that girl, isn’t she beautiful? And I looked and I saw an obese person. I looked closer. She had a face like an angel. She had marvelous curves. She was probably all of twenty. Her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She was not trying to hide anything of her face or figure and she seemed happy. And I said to my husband yes, she is beautiful.

My ingrained sense of beauty I get from my father. He adores beautiful women. Thin, young, beautiful women. My husband said not to be confused when I listen to my father speak to his wife. It is not with love that he addresses her, it is with lust. My father loves to show the world that he is in lust with his wife. I had not understood this about my father. But it does make clear why my sister and I have such a hard time understanding his feelings. He cannot be in lust with his own daughters. But what is he to do if he is more comfortable showing lust than love? My sister and I are always trying to perform for him, to impress him, to squeeze out of him something which we have feared may not exist. My father clearly loved us when we were children, but when we became women, he put us at a distance.

My sister has bulimia. She knows that if she is thin people will love her more. This is something I believe as well. It is a fact that we have learned from my father. My sister married a man very much like our father. Her husband would like her to be as thin as a blade. I see from her wedding picture how, after a hard diet, she became very fragile looking. Her husband asked her, “Are you safe being this thin?” “Yes” she answered him, and he was pleased, because she finally looked the way he had always imagined she could always look.

My husband is very different from my father. He does not mind that I am overweight. He calls me sexy. It astonishes me that I do not disgust him. In his presence, sometimes I do not mind that I am overweight. I actually like what the mirror shows. Only sometimes. But the occasions repeat more frequently. My husband sees me through the eyes of love first, and then he lusts. I do not think my flaws bother him.

But sometimes I worry that he is fooling me. He thinks thoughts that he keeps from me. If I knew what he was really thinking I would cry and I would not want to go out in public. He is trying to manipulate me to keep me sane. If I were sad I would not be good company. If I hated myself he would have a mess on his hands. So he lies to me. I do not really know what goes on in that dark hole of a mind he has.

Kind words do not stop the suspicions.

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