2013 03 Real Weddings Dara Tonys Ddeloach

While the “beautiful” woman is briefly at the apex of the system, this is, of course, far from the divine state of grace that the myth propagates. The pleasure to be had from turning oneself into a living art object, the roaring in the ears and the fine jet-spray of regard on the surface of the skin, is some kind of power, when power is in short supply. But it is not much compared to the pleasure of getting back forever inside the body; the pleasure of discovering sexual pride, a delight in a common female sexuality that overwhelms the divisions of “beauty”; the pleasure of shedding self-consciousness and narcissism and guilt like a chainmail gown; the pleasure of the freedom to forget all about it.

 

Only then will women be able to talk about what “beauty” really involves: the attention of people we do not know, rewards for things we did not earn, sex from men who reach for us as for a brass ring on a carousel, hostility and skepticism from other women, adolescence extended longer than it ought to be, cruel aging, and a long hard struggle for identity. And we will learn that what is good about “beauty”—the promise of confidence, sexuality, and the self-regard of a healthy individuality— are actually qualities that have nothing to do with “beauty” specifically, but are deserved by and, as the myth is dismantled, available to all women. The best that “beauty” offers belongs to us all by right of femaleness.