That’s what I am.
Despite deeply held convictions that women and men should not only be treated equally under the law, but by society generally, I am obsessed with how I look. Not right now – I’m just in jeans and a t-shirt, neither of which fits properly – but for tonight.
If this was a party of my friends, I would be okay. I probably wouldn’t even change clothes.
Normally, I’m not that concerned with my appearance. I mean, I would like to be attractive, but I don’t spend any time on it. I rarely wear make-up. I don’t dye my hair. I watch what I eat and exercise, but more for the way it feels than for the way it makes me look.
Tonight I’m going to a big benefit party being held at the New York Public Library. There will be 300 people there, including Maya Angelou (who is being honored), Junot Diaz (who is also being honored) Gay Talese, Dick Cavett and Naomi Wolfe.
Naomi Wolfe wrote The Beauty Myth. This will become important later.
When I was married, I had a husband who could assure me that, when I went outside, no horses would be frightened. These days, my cat is too distraught seeing me leave to provide any useful advice.
If it makes me nervous, why do I go? Good question. The party benefits a charity that I not only support, but with whom I feel I have a personal relationship. It was started in memory of a man who helped me a lot. I owe him, and it is a debt that can’t be repaid just by writing a check.
When I bought tickets months ago, I didn’t know who to ask. Last year I went with my son. Tonight, I’m going with an old friend. He’s very nice, but I’m not sure I can trust him to tell me if my ass looks fat.
It’s a big party. There will be celebrities there. Even among the non-celebrities, there will be people who are young and beautiful. And while there will be people I enjoy there, people who will also be happy to see me, no one is going to notice how I look.
And I think that’s the problem.
I bought a new dress, a really nice one from Donna Karan. I have new shoes, too, with four-inch heels. I’m going to wear make-up, and my grandmother’s diamond earrings.
I want to be pretty. And that’s a form of tyranny.
In The Beauty Myth, Wolfe describes how society judges women on their appearances, and decrees that only those who are beautiful are worthy of love (that’s an over-simplification, please argue with me, not her). A man can be gnomish (Woody Allen) or a fat buffoon (Donald Trump) or short (Al Pacino) or tall (Adrien Brody) and be considered “a good catch.” Women can be dismissed as fat if they look like Kate Winslett in Titanic. It is an insult so damning that the more stupid conservatives use it to dismiss Hillary Clinton.
I do not believe one has to be beautiful to be loved. We are, each of us, deserving of love as long as we are capable of returning it. If anything, falling in love is what happens when one finds another person’s unique beauty.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to see if I can find my eyeliner.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, expects to spend the rest of her weekend hanging out with goats and alpacas at Sheep and Wool.