One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street)Some time ago I had the very uncomfortable experience of being publicly humiliated while having drinks with two friends at a local pub.

I must admit, these men were gorgeous. I know, I’m a guy and I’m not supposed to notice, but as you’re about to understand, that fact was made abundantly clear.

We were sitting and talking, sipping on beer, when the strangest thing happened. Gorgeous women started coming over and giving us their phone numbers.

I am, at this point, using the word “us” incorrectly. Perhaps I should rephrase that.

We were sitting and talking, sipping on beer, when the strangest thing happened. Gorgeous women started coming over and giving “them” their phone numbers. As this way happening, for some odd reason I was reminded of Sesame Street. Why you may ask? Do you remember on Sesame Street when they had that game they always played with Grover?

“One of these things is not like the others….”

“Can you guess which one is not like the others…”?

I was sitting with those two pretty boys and playing this game in my head when it dawned on me, possibly for the very first time, that I was not as good-looking as they were. You see, to this point I had never really considered that I was different then they were. My mother thinks I’m quite attractive. My wife seems to like how I look. But perhaps love is blind, or at least nearsighted.

As I sat there humming the Sesame Street song I realized that I had never been at a table for this phone number ritual before. This may happen to you all the time, but I’ve never been given a woman’s phone number in my life. You may not believe me, but I’m no Brad Pitt. I cannot remember a single time in my life when any woman even hit on me. I am not crushed by this revelation but it did force me to consider a few things.

Many of us are not pretty. We look in the mirror and squint. We are keenly aware of our ugliness, our defects, our imperfections. Even those who are considered attractive often spend an inordinate amount of time paying attention to their smallest blemish and focusing on their flaws. We have become of a culture that is plagued by body dysmorphia.

Every day, in hundreds of ways, we are reminded that we are too fat, or too bald, too short, too ugly, too poor, too old, too young. Media is bloated with beautiful people who have had multiple medical and cosmetic enhancements, all presented for your enjoyment after they have had even the slightest reality photoshopped out of them. No wonder we don’t like what we look like; we are competing with fantasy.

One of my closest friends is considered to be extremely attractive. While in high school he thought he was unattractive, plain. His weight was not the same as the jocks, he wasn’t tall enough to look like a basketball player. You understand what I mean.

Some years back he screwed up his courage and told his friends and family he was gay.  He began going to gay bars in Vancouver and the most amazing thing happened. In this community his body type, height, hair, and features made him desirable; and young, beautiful men with athletic bodies constantly approached him with interest.

Suddenly the rules were all different.

Imagine if you could walk into a bar like that after thinking you were ugly or fat or bald. Think what it would be like if your greatest flaw, the thing about yourself you most despised, suddenly was considered gorgeous by everyone around. Wouldn’t that have a significant effect on your self-esteem? Suddenly you were beautiful. You could hold your head up high and know everyone wanted you. Imagine.

What a sick world.

A world where you are hired because you are attractive. Where your height makes a difference in your pay grade. This sick society judges people on the basis of things that don’t matter. I have talked to many brilliant women who have been pushed aside because they don’t look right for the job. Children who are passed over on the playground because they are not pretty enough. Beautiful young women who believe they have to perform fellatio in order to fit in and ‘get a guy’. Youth who have been branded outcasts on the basis of looks or style.

If I could tell those people anything it would be that they are beautiful just the way they are.

You are beautiful just the way you are. Don’t change for anyone. If they love you they will like the way you look. If they ridicule or judge you based on your outer shell then forget them and walk away.

Never be ashamed of who you are.

9 thoughts on “One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

  1. I was watching Breaking Amish last night, and one of the girls is trying to break into modeling. She’s a tall waif who says she weighs between 110 and 115 pounds and I cringed when I heard a photographer tell her that if she lost 5lbs her cheek bones would show more and that would make her more attractive. This is the type of stuff we are hit with everyday, even if we aren’t told as bluntly as that young lady was.

  2. What if your a psycho who likes torturing gerbils?!
    Just kidding. We do have strange values – I doubt most of us would care if the nurse saving our life was black, white, ugly, hot, fat, spotty, foreign… we’re very tolerant when it suits us. I wonder how much our selectivity is a function of evolutionary pressures and how much is cultural. Also – how much is cultural pressure based on fear (of adequacy), and how much is pressure applied by companies who profit from our insecurities by selling anti-age creams etc.

  3. Thank you for this post. After a couple of days, where I’ve felt pretty darn ugly, over-looked and unappreciated, this has had the effect of cheering me up. You my friend, are a very beautiful person.

  4. For most of us though, the rules don’t suddenly become different. We need to continue to live within our sick little subcultures and figure out how to manage in spite of. Never being ashamed of who we are is a great goal. But how to get there? Maybe you can expound practically on how to believe differently?

  5. Definitely. And what’s even more absurd is that the concept of beauty (as defined by the media of course) is constantly changing. I wrote about it in one of my posts. When I was a teenager, I felt like a skinny shoulder-less rake. Thank heavens shoulder-pads were “in” at the time. Then Kate Moss happened, and suddenly I had a great body. Absurd.

    I know a woman who is Caucasian, 50 something, very heavy, and not “conventionally” beautiful according to western culture. But she’s married to an Indian man, and when they go on vacation to India, she’s practically worshiped as a goddess because she has white skin, fair hair and blue eyes. And over there, in many regions, being heavy is interpreted as being healthy and wealthy. Being thin is frowned upon because it means you’re weak, sickly and poor (even if you’re not). It just goes to show, you change the setting and you suddenly become gorgeous. I sometimes say: People tend to love white lions. But if all lions were white, they’d love the golden ones more. “Oh look! A GOLDEN lion!! WOW!”

  6. Excellent story and so very true…real relationships go way beyond outer appearances…I have found that those that I love as family, friends, colleagues….are always beautiful…inside and out.

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