Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Masks


She was quite young, really, no more than 26 or 27. She had been out in the working world a few years, and she’d enjoyed finding her voice, showing off her skills, proving herself intelligent, making sure others know she wasn’t just attractive.

She was attractive. She’d been dogged by it for years. Using the term “dogged by it” might seem rather insulting to the plain, to the unattractive. But she’d found it wasn’t easy to be pretty. When she was a child, people stopped her mother on the streets to comment on the curls, the blue eyes, the cute little freckles.

In high school and college, it was more of the same. Strange men would approach her, then, and she wouldn’t have her mother around to fend them off. She had to learn those skills herself, and she became rather adept at brushing unwanted attention away, at curling her lip just so, at striking a bored-to-no-end pose. Some might have seen it as conceit, as playing hard to get, as being self-centered, but it really wasn’t like that at all.

She’d thought she’d have an easier go of it once she was surrounded by colleagues, professionals, men who were driven by their work and not by the scent of her. But she had found it wasn’t like that at all. It hadn’t dissipated. And, oh, how she’d complained to her friends – real and imagined – about what she'd had to go through to be seen for her merits inside. The real friends had rolled their eyes behind her back. The imagined ones had laughed out loud to her face. She really couldn’t get any respect.

Years later, she has finally figured out how to be considered for who she is inside, not who she is outside. She wears a mask of crow’s feet, and lines around her mouth, and age spots. She wears a costume of veiny hands, wobbly forearms, sagging breasts, varicose veins, and many, many scars of accidents from her gymnastics and cheerleading days.

And, while it’s true that they no longer pay attention to her because of her looks, it turns out they also no longer pay attention to what she says, what she thinks. The mask of old age turns out to be a mask of invisibility.

[I am not the woman described. Or at least I wasn't the woman without the mask and costume.]

[Read what others have to write when it comes to the prompt of masks.]

16 comments:

Rob Kistner said...

Touching piece!

You point to an unfortunate reality in the modern world. While society seems to grant men the mantle of prowess and effectiveness with age, that is not the same guarantee for a woman.

Woman are most certainly deserving, and some of today's most effective individuals are women -- but they tend to have to fight harder for the respect and acknowledgment.

Unfair, but too true.

Enjoyed the read.

~Kathryn~ said...

oh how true is this
a woman can't really win can she - if she is beautiful she is not taken seriously, if she is plain she is ignored and definately once she is older she is ignored
LOVE THIS

myrtle beached whale said...

Wow, I made a comment on Kathryn's blog and then I read other comments and yours was almost exactly the same as mine. I mentioned that great minds think alike but wasn't sure you would be back at her blog to see it. I found it amazing that we thought of th same song.

paris parfait said...

I think it depends on where you live. In the US and perhaps the UK, women are definitely judged too much by their looks. In France, Spain, Italy, etc. I think less so - European women are allowed to age gracefully and their opinions are sought and respected. Of course younger women might get the stares, but it's usually the older ones that can grab and keep the attention.

Regina Clare Jane said...

sometimes I think it just has to do with being a woman- attractive or not. I guess what it boils down to is how do we feel about ourselves...
Very thought provoking, Patois...

Sonya said...

How sad is it that this is so true? Enjoyed reading the piece, though. You are spot on there.

gautami tripathy said...

Isn't it really sad that she was not seen for what she was? Even her age was not respected.

In India, women age gracefully and are great respected as they grow old.Body image no longer holds then.

Crafty Green Poet said...

very true, unfortunately.

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

Perhaps when we see ourselves, we take on the masks that others create for us, instead of being real?

Rose

xo

Tracy said...

Very well written! I enjoyed reading your piece.

Thanks for leaving a comment on my art blog! :)

Skyelarke said...

How sad that we as a society are so pre-occupied with looks, the outside of a person and not the inner workings, which is from where the true beauty and strength come.

Shelby said...

great post! we do have to work harder and fight for respect and acknowledgment .. certainly things that men get so "easily."

such is life..

Anita said...

It's easy to look at pretty women and think they have it all, but I guess that's not always the case, is it? I've always envied beautiful women because they seemed to get everything they wanted, but maybe it's just as hard for them as it is for me. Thank you for the eye-opening post. It really made me think.

Frances said...

Fifteen years ago my grandmother broke her hip, and was in the hospital for several weeks. Her roommate looked at me one day and said, "you seem smart, but you need a breast reduction, no one is ever going to take you seriously if you don't."
I didn't.
They took me seriously, but it was a battle royale. The breast reduction production would have made things easier.
Take care,
Frances

Clare said...

I love what you wrote. It's very powerful. The last two paragraph, especially, moved me very much.

sundaycynce said...

Clever presentation of an all too common problem. Your story did, however, grab & hold attention. Is there a bit of irony there?

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