Bridget and I were lying in bed reading last night when she activated a sleeper cell to commit jihad against me. “Mommy, who’s prettier? Me or Clare?” she asked casually. Clare is, of course, her older sister who callously exists.
Careful. Careful! You answer this wrong, Shannon, and you might as well be Shakespeare’s anti-heroine, Tamor who unwittingly ate a meat pie made of her children’s flesh.
Let me backtrack a moment.
When my own sister and I were 7 and 8 some stranger-lady came up to us in a store unsolicited and announced that I was prettier than my sister. That settled it. I was the prettiest. I had no problem with that. That lady wasn’t being a mean, destructive bitch-wagon, she was just being informative.
Well, imagine my consternation when my sister’s unfortunate Dorothy Hamill haircut grew out and my silken golden locks hit puberty, turning into dishwater blond pubic hair on my head.
Imagine my chagrin when my sister’s breasts came in her freshman year while my sophomore boobs looked like two mosquito bites surrounded by teenage chest acne.
|My sister in 1980|
|Me in 1980|
12th grade boys wanted to date my sister! Wuz up wid dat?
The final blow came when my best friend since third grade turned to me while we watched my sister perform a cheerleading routine to Oingo Boingo’s I Like Little Girls with the entire boy’s varsity football team panting behind her, and said to me, “You know, I used to think you were prettier than Gina, but I don’t know anymore.”
“I am prettier!” I wanted to scream. “Some fat lady wearing bifocals in the camp store at Lake Cachuma told me I was in 1973!”
Over the years I’ve based my self-worth on whether I was pretty or not at any given time (hence the title of this blog). And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say a lot of women do. But…
My Daughters Can’t Do That!
They should stay neither too fat nor too thin, too tall nor too short, blemish free and straight-of-tooth, hair attractively coiffed, body tastefully clothed.
AND they should do all of that without really caring about it. It should be accidental, not pre-meditated.
Instead they should be geniuses who work at MIT coming up with technologies for restoring the evaporating ozone layer, then volunteer summers at Women For Women International on the ground in some African country that preferably isn’t in a civil war.
They should meet rugged war correspondents like Sebastian Junger who will want to marry them for their derring do, not the ephemeral quality of their beauty.
|My sister and her three girls. All rare beauties.|
I don’t want either of them to care who is prettier. I want them to be the exact same amount of pretty.
I don’t ever want some moronic stranger coming up to them and announcing “I see who got the looks in the family.” What the hell is wrong with people anyway?
So how do you answer, “Mom, who’s prettier? Me or Clare?”
I am one of the lucky ones, because I honestly believe in my response, “You each have your own rare beauty, honey.”
I’d love to know how you handle the who’s prettier, smarter, more athletic etc etc questions?