As 21st century women, we have the freedom to adjust our attractiveness across a broad spectrum through our choices of hairstyle, makeup, clothing, and even surgery. Our physical selves can be adapted according to our moods, purposes, funds, and expertise. There is power at both ends of the spectrum. At one end, we find a natural dominance and conspicuous, immediate, validation; at the other, we find the power of the observer, an invisibility through which knowledge and experience can filter unchallenged. Our internal attributes can exercise themselves more freely on the ‘less glam’ end, but our egos can’t help but delight in the easy gratification of turning heads and opinions at the opposite pole.
The danger of setting one’s baseline appearance too high on the spectrum is that as looks slowly (but surely) trade off for wisdom (we hope), many women find themselves lost, having never developed confidence in their other sources of power and identity. The resulting desperation can be as paralyzing as botox, and equally toxic. Ideally, one should settle comfortably somewhere around the middle, and travel to both poles for exciting expeditions in anthropological experimentation. For example: Halloween glamazoning and other pantless adventures.
Our Canadian winters encourage experimentation on the other end of the spectrum. Just yesterday, I was all bundled up (scarf, baseball cap, hair covered by hood) by the river when a pickup truck pulled up beside me.
“Hey you,” the burly driver called out, “you need a partner?”
I, still mentally dressed in my Halloween fishnets from two nights before, gave him the ol’ ‘dude, as if’ look of polite disdain.
“Hey YOU” he shouted, his enunciation brutally clear this time, “YOU THE GARDENER??”
Turning around, I saw a tall scruffy man standing directly behind me. He was nodding at the man in the truck.
I know I was just rhapsodizing about the joys of invisibility a few sentences ago, but darn it, there’s nothing rhapsodic about getting caught in between!