Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meryl Streep

When I was younger than I am today,
I would have given up anything
to be pretty.
I got called ugly a lot,
by teenage boys who hadn’t even really met me,
just assessed me with a glance
and needed to let me know my pitifully low scores.
To be an ugly girl, an ugly woman,
is to have absolutely no value
as a commodity in our society.
The last banana on the shelf,
bruised inside and out.
I would have given up my humor
and my intelligence
to have a completely different face,
and I wouldn’t have had to think twice about it.
I marvel when I think about it.
I would rather have been boring or dumb
than be invisible.
But invisibility is also a superpower.
When you don’t see me,
I am free.
I can wear what I want,
eat what I want,
wear sparkly eyeshadow, or not.
I still wonder what it would be like to be beautiful,
but just in the way that I wonder
what it would be like to be anyone else.
Maybe it’s like wearing a pair of expensive,
shiny black stiletto heels with bright red soles.
You are the center of attention,
showered with compliments.
But maybe it’s also uncomfortable
and leaves little angry sores that can’t be seen.
I wouldn’t know, so who am I to say?

When I was in high school,
a teacher overheard me making
a self-deprecating joke
about how no boy would ever date me.
She made me stay after class
so she could give me a pep talk.
She told me that she thought I looked
like Meryl Streep.
And that my intelligence and my humor
would be attractive to a lot of men.
Eventually.  Maybe in college.
[insert record scratch sound here]
Wait, Meryl Streep?
She’s obviously movie-star beautiful,
but her beauty was Real Adult Woman Beauty,
and when I was fourteen,
that wasn’t quite what I was going for.
At forty-one, however, I would welcome the comparison.
What I wouldn’t do now to stride into a room
like Meryl Streep with silver Miranda Priestly hair.
She even wears glasses to the Oscars.
She never has the most dramatic or most revealing dress.
Just something simple and elegant
as she picks up armfuls of awards.

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