I’ve decided to participate in today’s “Beauty of a Woman” BlogFest organized by Amber McLaughlin.
At first, I had planned to repost a blog entry from last year, “Fiction, like beauty, is more than skin deep.” The post discussed physical beauty only briefly, as a touchstone for a deeper discussion of writing as vocation and avocation.
However, when I reread the first sentence, “I don’t wear makeup,” I was struck by how tenaciously the influences of our upbringings cling to us (or we to them).
My mother never wore makeup. I think this had to do with her fierce (and I do mean fierce) independence and a furious desire to prove that her value to the world lay in her intellect, not her face or body. As an adolescent, I rebelled against my parents in all sorts of ways. I flirted (pun intended) with my physical body and with the idea that the the cerebral and the corporeal might co-exist. Interestingly, I never took to wearing makeup, even at my most rebellious (though I did once own a leather skirt).
I’m not sure my mother ever felt completely at ease with being female, mostly because of the time and the culture she was rebelling against. But, as is so often the case, her discomfort led her to bring her gifts to the world: her patented research at Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s and her second career as a physics professor and administrator at Simon’s Rock College.
Despite the fact that I have spent large portions of my life trying to differentiate myself from her, I am more like her than I usually feel comfortable admitting. And she was, I am happy to say, beautiful.