Brains Vs. Beauty

I write this as a woman who considers herself of average looks. On a good day above average and a little sexy. That’s right I am sexy. I know the power of sex but I don’t wield it carelessly. I don’t think I could even if I wanted to because as I said, I am an average beauty. I am laughably short, busty, I have (as Sir Mix A Lot would say) “Back” and(at the time of writing this) long blonde hair. I’m alright. Good looking enough to get by. Let’s just say I am not one of those people  you feel sorry for when you see them on the bus. I understand the power of beauty and of sexiness. I also understand that it is a conscious decision that we all make. High heels, a perfume dip, and cleavage doesn’t happen naturally, or on accident. Look in any Woman’s magazine and see the proof.

Being a woman means that I am aware of my looks every day. I am aware that I am judged by men and women alike based on my hair, my face my clothes and my body. I am aware that I can manipulate any of the aforementioned to fit my purpose and to get a desired reaction. Beautiful women are masters of manipulation whether it is a conscious or unconscious decision. 

But brains are not. You are either smart or you are not. I have always held fast to the statement that I would rather be thought of as smart rather than as beautiful. I sincerely hope that when people think of me they think, “Gosh! That Alicia is one clever lady.”, rather than, “Woo! That girl is hot!”. The second is not very gratifying and it just doesn’t last. People age and gravity happens to all of us. I’m fine with that. I do what I can to keep myself looking young (such as work out, eat healthy, take my vitamins) but I won’t ever be in line for cosmetic surgery. That’s just not who I am. I pride myself on the fact that I can carry on a conversation on just about any topic. I can hold my own when it comes to the arts, politics, cooking, film history, American history and so forth. If I don’t know, I am smart enough to fake it. And smart enough to know when YOU are faking it. Playing Devil’s Advocate is one of my favorite pass times. 

Marilyn Monroe is historically thought of as one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. And she is. But she struggled her whole life to be thought of as more than that. She was a very smart and witty woman. If you read through some of her journals and interviews you will notice how quick she is. She once said “Arthur Miller wouldn’t have married me if he thought I was a dumb blonde.” And that’s a good point. Yet most people say that he married her for her looks. He was intimidated by both her looks and her brains and often tried to make her feel bad about both.

Like Marilyn, the struggle for all of us is to be taken seriously. A woman can be sexy and smart, she shouldn’t need to choose.  And yet many women dumb themselves down in the company of men. They think that it makes them more attractive and it makes men feel important to know more. One woman I know said to me, “Men like to show off their knowledge and I like to let them. If it makes them feel better to feel smarter than me, what’s the difference? As long as he comes home with me I’m happy.” The problem is being disingenuous to boost the male ego makes the rest of us ladies look stupid. I don’t want to be with a man who has to think he is smarter than me. I want a guy who IS as smart as me. And if he is smarter? Well, then I now have someone to learn from.

But I have to say, the women who focus on looks get exactly what they want. They are the ones who get the compliments. They are the ones who get the attention. They get daily validation on their appearance and therefore focus on it more and more. So maybe those women are on to something. Maybe we all need to focus more on how we look so men will pay more attention to us. 

Or maybe there is a balance. Nobody wants to be (or be with) someone who doesn’t care about how they look. Ladies want a man who put some care into his appearance (but not too much. Nobody wants to be with THAT guy) and men want a someone who they can be proud of. And that’s alright. But what if we started placing more emphasis on brains? Instead of making women dependent on compliments about their appearance, make them crave compliments on their mind. How often does your boyfriend ask you about your opinion on world events? Did that guy you like ask you about what you think of the debt ceiling? Guys, do you ever tell her she is smart rather than hot?

I guess if I could choose I would want to be like Gillian Anderson’s Agent Scully from  the X FILES. She was super smart, clever, funny, and easy on the eyes. Her opinion always mattered and she worked side by side (not under) with Mulder. She didn’t have to convince anyone that she was smart OR sexy. You knew the minute she walked in the room. That’s what I strive for. I’ve set the bar pretty high with a fictional FBI Agent who is played by a glamorous movie star, but I have my size sixes planted firmly on terra firma. I’ll never actually be her – but I can be just as kick ass. Cause hell, the world has not seen what I am fully capable of. My kung fu is just as good as yours, Agent Scully.  

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One thought on “Brains Vs. Beauty

  1. I read somewhere that Marilyn Monroe was very well-read and a talented writer, which just makes her even more badass in my book.

    I think the trend is going in a positive direction; all the guys I’ve dated have thought that intelligence is also part of the girlfriend you’re “proud to have.” An intelligent girlfriend is one they want to meet their boss, professors, colleagues…not just their friends.

    Though all that may change; I’m becoming a CZ expat in about a month (that’s how I stumbled across your blog). I’ve heard that gender norms can be different there (though from the perspective of my Russian friends, they’re super liberal). We’ll see. At least I’m pretty comfortable with singledom.

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