"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Ugly Is As Ugly Does - The Tale Of A Profoundly Unattractive Woman

When friends of the family first saw little Jenna Warner, they could only manage, 'What a baby...Wow such a wonderful addition to the household...Amazing little girl...' No one could bring themselves to say 'adorable...cute....beautiful', because this was an ugly baby.  There was no getting around it. 

All babies ipso facto, sui generis are supposed to be sweet, irresistible creatures, evolutionarily so to assure love, care, and protection; but life and genetics have ways of throwing a monkey wrench in the works, and even Jenna's mother had moments of shameful hesitation when she ignored her crying.  She knew that this was not the way to behave.  Jenna was her child, her flesh and blood, her offspring, so regardless of how she might have turned out, she had to take ownership. 

Such bonding became even more difficult when Jenna began to grow up.  She did not outgrow her unfortunate infant ugliness.  It only became worse and worse.  Every stage of the girl's development added another physical insult.  Her nose was off-kilter, her oversized lips indelicately placed over a prognathous jaw, and....Why go on?  There is no point to chronicling the unfortunate hand she was dealt.  It is what it is, and in Jenna's case, she had better look for inner qualities. 

'Beauty is as beauty does' - character, moral fiber, compassion, sense of justice are what makes a person appealing and desirable, not outward appearance - but that has always been far from the truth.  The standards of feminine beauty have not changed for millennia. Symmetrical features, luminescent eyes, full lips, and luxuriant hair all express health, wealth, and well-being as well as being pleasing to a natural sense of geometrical order, and sexual appeal.  There is little difference between  the women painted by Leonardo and the most beautiful Hollywood actresses of today. 

Beauty has always had social and economic value.  Attractiveness has paid dividends in courting, hiring, and the boardroom.  For all the hoopla about inner values, women know that without beauty, they are behind the eight ball; and Jenna's parents were painfully aware of the world she was about to face.

Yet, there was hope.  Diana Vreeland, an ugly woman if there ever was one and admittedly so, went on to be a creator and arbiter of fashion. Dressed in elegant clothes, made up, coiffed, and bejeweled, no one noticed her horsey, drawn, and mismatched features.  Vreeland did well, married well, and produced children who might not have been Hollywood material, but were closer to the historical norm than she, for sure.

Faint hope as it turned out, for as Jenna approached her teenage years, her hair, always unmanageable became tough and wiry, her eyes appeared closer together and almost simian as she matured.  Her nose elongated farther than the great hooks of literature - Fagin's for instance - and seemed to have a life and presence of its own. It was so prominent it cast a shadow. 

'Soldier on, my dear', said Mrs. Warner as her daughter stood crying before the mirror. 'There's someone out there for you'. 

There indeed might be, but the deck was so stacked against the girl that Mr. Right might be just as pitifully ugly as she, and that wouldn't do either of them any good.  'A marriage of freaks', she shouted at her reflection in the mirror as her mother watched hopelessly on. 

The problem of course of such unfortunate girls is not just the lack of male suitors, but the bitchy cattiness of girlfriends. She was picked on, made fun of, and was the joke of every girls' room.  Double jeopardy - neither sex wanted her. 

'Acting might be just the thing for her',  Mrs. Warner said to her husband.  'All that make up and stuff. Half the women in Hollywood are as....' Here the mother stopped before using the 'U' word, but her husband knew what she meant, 'ugly', but that too was an exaggeration.  Few women underneath the most professional do-over were as 'U-word' as Jenna; but he agreed that it might be worth a try. 

So Jenna was encouraged to act in the school play, but was only cast as minor characters, usually old crones or wicked stepmothers, and although she delighted in playing the wicked witch in the musical Hansel and Gretel it generated the wrong kind of enthusiasm. 'A natural', said the student newspaper, 'a perfect casting decision...a wicked witch personified'. 


'It will lead to something, just you wait and see', said her mother to her husband. 'A stepping stone', but it was too late.  Jenna was typecast and went on to play equally vixenish, physically and emotionally deformed women. 

'Fashion, then', said Jenna's mother thinking of Diana Vreeland and her remarkable successes despite her U-word unattractiveness; but Jenna had absolutely no sense of fashion; and it was almost as though her physical ugliness was transferred to everything else.  Nothing matched, colors clashed, shoes were ungainly, skirts ridiculous Tartan plaid, and blouses of black denim and studs.  

Poor Mrs. Warner tried everything - voice lessons, violin lessons, ballet, gymnastics - but nothing took.  Once again the ugliness seemed infectious.  Her voice was a wail, her dance moves crippled-looking, and her work on the bars a clumsy misadventure. 

'We can't give up on her', said her mother, although both she and her husband privately thought it was a good idea.  It was God's idea to create her this way, so let God provide was the horrible, unmaternal thought she would never express but couldn't shake. 

 'We've done our bit', she said to her husband as they watched their only child go off to college - to MIT of all places but when you thought about it, a whole place filled with geeks and U-word misfits, it made perfect sense. 

And so it was that Jenna Warner found herself.  Electrical wiring, transistors, and tubes - or whatever were the new generational things in currency today - were her thing.  She spent weekends in the lab or on the test track with the latest in student-designed robotics, and was as happy as could be. True, the guys she went to bed worth were no Brad Pitts, but they weren't bottom feeders either. 

A person looking at another cannot see themselves, but only images of what they would like to be; so when Jenna awoke next to some ugly chemical engineer, she could only notice his brutal unattractiveness. 'What am I doing with him?', she would ask herself, always imagining that she was a Marilyn Monroe clone - which was a good thing since years of self-esteem training could never wipe the frown off well-intentioned teachers' faces when counselling her. 

Adaptability, wrote Darwin, is the key to survival of the fittest; and so it was that Jenna Warner worked around the natural, historical bias of beauty and made her way with algorithms, differential equations, and robots.  Beautiful people still winced when she got too close, but her own cohort - the vast numbers of U-word marginalized 'embraced' her as the modern lingo called acceptance.  

Mrs. Warner had never put up any pictures of her daughter in the living room, so when she went off to college there were no traces of her left at home; but as soon as she graduated, then earned her doctorate, then earned nine figures at a well-known company in Silicon Valley East, diplomas, awards, and citations filled the spaces where pictures of a beautiful daughter should have been. 

Marriage was too much to ask.  Jenna could simply not see herself in any long-term arrangement with the likes of Jeremy, Marvin, or Herman - or whatever boys were called these days - and kept to herself, happy enough with colleagues and a few friends. 

What a horrible albatross around the neck of a decent girl.  She didn't deserve the damned DNA she inherited from Uncle Harry's side of the family. God could have leavened the mix if had a heart; but God indeed plays dice with the universe, and poor Jenna ended up throwing cold dice every time. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.