Beauty is found in unexpected places
So, welcome to my little space. My hope is to find folks with whom I can dissect, discuss and then reconstruct a new, permeable, better-fitting definition of beauty. My secret goal? To help lessen the hatred, and destruction of “Others”. I never understood how people could be so cruel and vile in their attack on people that they most likely do not even know personally. More on that later, I suppose. There may be a lot of cursing, hopefully laughter, most likely alcohol consumption and a little fangirling (yes, it’s a verb, ask my friend CC) over some worthy carriers and ambassadors of OTHER-NESS, including famous folks in our cultural consciousness. Oh, also, because she is a catalyst in the creation of this blog with her now-legendary embodiment of Other-ness and identifiable BEAUTY, please understand, I WILL mention, refer to and bow down to actress KRISTEN STEWART often, probably definitely in every single post. So here’s what you look like, contemplating it for one nano-second…and then accepting it as fact.
Acceptance doesn’t taste so bitter…it’s actually quite lovely. Is there a bathroom nearby though?
Let’s get down to it, shall we?
In Webster’s Online Dictionary, the term beautiful is defined as:
exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. beautiful applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion through the senses
Ok I want to take into account that what excites YOU may not be the same thing that excites ME. What brings YOU the keenest of pleasure? Believe me, we will delve into the pervy facets of definitions as well. Just may not be in this posting. We’re still in first-date introduction round, remember?
The point is: I havelearned over my fairly brief time in this world (less than a century, more than a couple decades), that the term “beauty” is subjective. There are synonyms for the word beautiful that may help us expand on its meaning. Words like: lovely, handsome, fair, flawless . . .OK.
I’d like to share a little story about how I first consciously understood the concept of “Beauty”. And then in the same instant learned what “OTHER” meant…along with terms such as “subjectiveness”, “exotic”, “unconventional” and “odd”.
Introducing The Other Queen
When I was fourteen years old and a high school freshman, my school decided to change the name of the game and politicize the homecoming queen elections. Instead of the traditional queen and her homecoming court, each grade level (grades 9 through 12) would have 5 different females become “ambassadors” for their ethnicities. You follow?
This new system arranged for FIVE Homecoming Queens on the Senior Court. Then FIVE Princess SETS for each grade level. So, essentially there were TWENTY primped, crimped, mascaraed, fragile, competitive females on a stage wearing labels of ROYALTY (and let’s face it, in high school hierarchy you ARE royalty if you’re on the homecoming court) during the Homecoming Football Game and Parade. The ethnic categories represented on the Homecoming Court were: 1.) Caucasian 2.) Latino 3.) Asian 4.) African American 5.) OTHER.
Go back and read Category #5. Ummmm. Upon closer inspection, the actual title of the category on the voting ballot looked something like this:
Pacific Islander, Native American, mixed-races, and OTHER, etc.
The homecoming committee couldn’t fit all that text on the ballot though. Consequently, OTHER was born. Right, so here’s the good stuff. Seriously. Wait for it. I WAS NOMINATED. And not just as a Freshman Princess. No, I was nominated EVERY SINGLE YEAR I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, all the way up the line to the Queen’s Senior Court. Hold up…. still sitting? Take a wild guess which category I was nominated for? *nodding head*. OH. YEEEEEAH. I am of mixed race myself, Latino blood along with Southeast Asian. Not only was I OTHER, but I was an OTHER Subset. I was such a subset, I had a mixed subset category, all to myself: OTHER, Etc. Category. Now, the OTHER box is not new to my Filipino peeps (hands up, w00t!). We’ve been checking the OTHER ethnicity box since the 1970 Census. But to have our own OTHER HOMECOMING QUEEN Category?! That’s Rockstar Status.
Let’s just say, I do not look remotely close to THIS:
Homecoming Queen, Circa 1957.
So I’ve always been a little …”exotic” due to my facial features, I get that. And when the 567,876th person off the street approached me and blurted, “What ARE you???” as I’m grocery shopping, it dawned on me. I. AM. OTHER. However, it wasn’t until I was a young adult in my late teens, early twenties, when I fully deconstructed what being “Other” meant. Back to my trusty Online Dictionary:
1 a: one that remains of two or more b: a thing opposite to or excluded by something else
2: a different or additional one
3 a: one (as another person) that is psychologically differentiated from the self b: often capitalized: one considered by members of a dominant group as alien, exotic, threatening, or inferior (as because of different racial, sexual, or cultural characteristics)
Ahhhh. The alien. The inferior. The wrongness about being “Other”. There it is.
See, I’m a psychotherapist by trade. Trufax. I actually have attended, graduated, and interned for the field of psychology. I have taken board exams to obtain a license to practice healing via mental health counseling. I am qualifying my experience for you so that you’ll find me having a teensy bit of credibility in what I’m going to say next. I’ve been a therapist for nine years, and I have extensive experience with adolescent girls.
The overwhelmingly common factor that adolescent girls, young women, and the majority of women struggled with, was their concept of “beauty”, and the incredible pressures they/we face to be beautiful …and accepted. Our society has a very toxic construct embedded in a collective unconscious, that is only supported by media and our cultural mores. More about the mechanics of society and psychology on another day, Friends. But if your interest is piqued, then I recommend you check out the book Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, Ph.D. We’ll do a read along together perhaps. It’s good stuff. It surveys the very dangers of being female growing up in today’s society.
This could be what I look like.
I don’t. But “Hot Therapist Avatars” are hard to come by.
FOCUS. Sorry. Didn’t mean to go all therapisty on your arses, guys. Let me wrap up my story. Then we can talk about Molly Ringwald and Kristen Stewart, mmmkay?
So, there I was, all OTHER-nominated and shit, and absolutely mortified. Humiliated. I was a fourteen year old girl. Well, and I was flattered, too, as my peers nominated me, though I later learned they had no idea what category to nominate me for. Hence my destiny of Other Queen-ness. Could I handle being an Ambassador for teenage girls? For Others? Couldn’t I just go back to my peaceful existence as APART OF groups instead of DIFFERENT THAN? At fourteen, my greatest hope was acceptance by my peers. Did I really want to highlight all of my oddities…while in a prom dress at a football game?
In what he believed was persuasive reasoning, my big brother, Chew (a nickname from our childhood), a usual suspect of torture during my adolescent years, decided it was actually COOL to have a sister in the race for the homecoming court. He began creating campaign slogans and spoke of silkscreening T-shirts for my candidacy.
Here’s what the shirt said:
Appalled. I was absolutely appalled at first when I laid eyes on this slogan. While I did not comprehend, at fourteen, the glorious gift that my brother bestowed, I understand it today. I understand now that a mixed-raced, curly-haired, vertically challenged girl deserved to be a Queen just as much as the next person. FYI: I withdrew my nomination my freshman year for the Princess Set, as well as senior year Queen, having no interest in being an Ambassador for Other Segregation. Now I realize the honor and power of Other, and I believe The Other Queen can begin reign today.
To celebrate the power The Other Queen truly has, my hope is to feature a new Ambassador of Other for you to bestow praise upon with every new post . This ever-evolving feature will be an Other Queen Honorable Mention or Rebel Royal of Yore, and the second Ambassador will feature the Reigning Rebel Royal or Other Queen. You’ve seen the names in the title of this Commencement Post, so let us meet the first-ever Ambassadors.
Rebel Royal of Yore
Molly Ringwald: Other Queen, 1985
So I ran into Molly Ringwald a couple weeks ago at Borders Books. No, ok, I didn’t actually run into her, but she walked past me and offered a little smile while I researched cultural definitions of beauty (translation: reading Fan Fiction). She smiled, I smiled, and I bit my lip to prevent myself from blurting, “You gave that kid your underpants!” I’m of course referring to her character Samantha Baker giving her underwear to The Geek/Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) to help him with his reputation, in the brilliant John Hughs movie Sixteen Candles. And then, I got a flash of the final scene of that movie, where Samantha Baker is kissing THE. GUY. This atypical beauty GETS. JAKE. FUCKING. RYAN. Think of Jake Ryan as predecessor to Edward Cullen. Except Jake Ryan wore Dockers and hiking boots.
Molly Ringwald became an icon for the 80’s generation, but more importantly, the poster-girl for awkward, fumbling, insecure young women who felt anything but society’s idea of “pretty”. In addition to Sixteen Candles, Molly went on to portray other iconic characters in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.
Beauty Marks (per societal and fashion magazines, websites, colleagues): 1. Distinguishable red hair 2. multi-talented actress, singer, dancer 3. down-to-earth disposition 4. served as Muse to the late-great John Hughes in the 1980’s 5. Clever career choices lending to a long career 6. bright, wide smile
Molly Ringwald, circa 1985. The Unexpected Beauty.
Offensive Other-ness(per Ass Clowns, paparazzi, print articles, tabloids):
1. Distinguishable red hair 2. Freckles 3. Lived abroad for years 4. Poor career choices, as she reportedly turned down the lead role in Pretty Woman 5. Shy and withdrawn with the media
Admit it. You checked out the sturdiness of your own
dining room table to see if you could pull this off.
So I ran into Molly at Borders Books, as I was saying. And she was there, no joke, promoting her book very aptly entitled: Getting the Pretty Back. In her book, Molly shares anecdotes from her famous teenage years with the intent of gentle guidance in finding comfort in one’s own skin. The now 42-year-old mother discusses her discomfort and shyness with the media, and her hope of dispelling the world’s view that she is only 18 years old. Of COURSE she’s an Other. She’s Other Royalty.
Reigning Rebel Royalty
Kristen Stewart: Other Queen, Today
Remember how I advised you to contemplate and then accept Kristen Stewart’s presence in this blog? Deep Breaths, Pretties…..because heeeere. We. Go. Let me introduce you: Kristen Stewart, Other Queen, circa NOW.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past three years, you will recognize Kristen as the actress who portrays Bella Swan in the obscenely successful Twilight saga movies, based on the obscenely successful books of the same name, written by Stephenie Meyer. While Kristen maybe best known for her work in Twilight, she has steadily emerged in the film world as a force to be reckoned with. She began acting at age nine, and has worked consistently in independent and mainstream films for the past eleven years. She is ridonkulously famous, but she does not want it. She is reportedly very sweet and shy in nature, and adamantly protective of her personal life. She is the consummate professional, per her legendary colleagues, and she knows how to play The Game, but she REFUSES to. Her fierce insistence for privacy, and her brazen refusal to conform to Hollywood “standards” are reasons why she is the Reigning Other Queen. I’m going to be honest: I will happily keep her as current Reigning Royalty for as long as she is in the business. She is THAT fierce. And my adoration for her is equally fierce. So there you go. Get comfortable, sweeties, Stewie is here to stay.
Beauty Marks(per societal and fashion magazines, websites, colleagues)
1. Porcelain skin 2. Speaks her mind and opinion 3. luminous green eyes 4. Legs, legs, legs -Fashion sites refer to her as Legs McGee 5. Sweet disposition 6. Recipient of BAFTA’s Rising Star Award 7. Multi-talented actress, guitar player, singer and writer
I am COMMUNICATING, Mofos!
Offensive Other-ness (per Ass Clowns, paparazzi, print articles, tabs):
1. Poor posture 2. Does not smile constantly 3. Does not use correct intonation in her voice 4. Does not appear to respect or like her co-star/speculated partner 5. Speaks her mind 6. Dislikes sharing her private life 7. Clears her throat before addressing millions of viewers of The Oscars
I can make LEANING against walls beautiful
Kristen is going to get plenty of love from me in the next blogs, for as long as you all will tolerate my silly little rambling. Do not gasp at the brief discussion re: The Stew. I have nothing but mad love for her, the Reigning Other Queen. I just wanted to do a little intro for the sake of exploring this blog. If you want to swim deeper in the awesomesauce that is Kristen Jaymes Stewart, I recommend you check my girl CC’s blog KSTEW IS BETTER THAN YOU http://www.kstewisbetterthanu.blogspot.com/ or KSTEWARTFAN (my KStew pics are from their site) http://www.kstewartfan.org/ to read up on this extraordinary Other Queen.
Define and Celebrate The Other
I’m wrapping up now. In doing so, I invite you all to explore the various ways to identify, then celebrate your strengths that define your “beauty”. All the characteristics I was embarrassed about that set me apart from others: my darkly pigmented skin, my incessant chattering, my curly hair and almond-shaped eyes, my fascination with knee-socks and salt. These are not flaws or oddities. These are small reminders that I am unique and independent. I embraced my Otherness and I almost was elected Homecoming Queen. PLUS, I almost got a t-shirt saying as much (I’m mostly hard for the T-Shirt, to be honest). I have a girlfriend who could make that shirt right now. She’s fucking Martha MacGyver. Seriously considering it.
Samantha Baker (portrayed by the luminous Other Queen Molly Ringwald) embraced her inner Other-ness and she got the guy. Jake Ryan kissed her over a birthday cake on a glass table!!!?! Seriously. That should be enough to convince you that embracing The Other is Goooood. Also, Molly defined a decade of film and landed on the cover of TIME when she was 18 years old. Not too shabby.
Kristen Stewart embraced her inner Other-ness and she is now on the cover of three magazines just in this month alone. AND she got the guy (Oh, the ‘decliciously handsome’ guy on her arm, citing UK Elle). She is a widely respected actress in both the Indie circles as well as in mainstream HW. Her very famous co-stars and colleagues (Including Jodie Foster, Sean Penn, Melissa Leo) describe Kristen’s talent using words such as “brilliant”, “genius” and “precocious”.
So until next time, friends, let’s find more synonyms for “Other” that do not imply wrongness, alienation, or inferiority. And maybe the need some feel to tear down Others will eventually dissipate completely.
Kristen is Other.
Molly is Other.
Others could be the Homecoming Queen.
Embrace your Other.
A/N: Mad love is sent to my girls on Team Other: Bouffant, Goldeneye, Marble Pole and my Aussie Besties Ophelia and Justice. Also I need to give credit to my cyber Sisters and Readers, NOTHING I’ve done with this subject matter could have been possible without your support and encouragement. You gals take my breath away with your brilliance. Inappropriate kisses to my newest-encountered kindred CC and her Sexy Posse (including BellasMommy (Baby), Buff (creator of my gorgeous banner) and Iris (my future foul-mouthed partner in crime). To my husband N, who doesn’t laugh at my ideas, at least not to my face. To my big brother, Chew, for being my first T-Shirt maker and fan. This post is dedicated to my sister, The Puss, and her daughter, my niece: Monkey.
Banner work by: @Buff_82 Sunset Swing Picture in Banner courtesy of Rebecca Parker of Photobucket
Contemplation Picture courtesy of : SoulSurferMusic of Photobucket Stop Sign Picture courtesy of: CliffDiver365 of Photobucket Handprint Picture courtesy of: Wildbean440 Homecoming Queen Picture 1957: Armstrong Family, Flickr
Molly Ringwald/Sixteen Candles: Google Images Kristen Stewart Photos courtesy of Kstewartfan.org