Beauty Fades

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Roald Dahl has a good section in his book “The Twits”:

    If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.

    A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

    Report

  2. Avatar George Turner says:

    My favorite classmate was a girl I’d chat with all the time. One day my brother confronted me and screamed that I was never to speak to her again because she was the ugliest girl in school, and that he had people watching me. (He’s a monster). She had a pug nose, huge ears, short little legs, and was strapped into a back brace. I’d never noticed because she was really smart, funny, and sweet, whereas a lot of the pretty girls were pretty toxic and some were as dumb as a box of rocks.Report

    • I’ve never understood why some people have so much invested in policing who other people like and hang out with. I had a friend like that, who would get really worked up if I spent too much time with someone who wasn’t of our social strata and unfortunately too often I listened to her.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        They’re learning how human social hierarchies work. Which means they constantly make mistakes, abuse power, and generally screw it all up. That friend policing and cliquish behavior and such is part and parcel of kids trying to understand the entire concept of “social strata”. (And of course, it takes ages for them to realize that the blunt surface facts are not the only facts, nor even the most important facts, but early days.)

        Given the rather unique chemistry of a teenager, and the fun neurological changes (bits of the brain aren’t fully developed, other bits have been taken offline for upgrading, etc), teenagers have more handicaps than usual when learning that sort of thing.

        It’s sort of like an adult trying to learn a foreign culture while strung out on coke 24/7, suffering brain damage that causes them to utterly discount long-term risks and prize short-term gains, all while under the unshakable belief that if you can learn the culture enough, you’ll gain your greatest desire.

        It doesn’t excuse the godawful toxic stew that the 14-20ish years can be, but it does offer a bit of an explanation on how reasonable human beings somehow appear from the nutbags we all were in HS.

        I don’t think I’ve met a single, decent human being who doesn’t have some guilt stemming from those years, some mistakes they don’t shudder to recall. Not necessarily anything big, in the grand scheme of things, just the casual cruelty of being 15 and absolutely, totally ignorant.Report

        • great response. Thanks for reading.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

          The friend policing might be particularly bad in teenagers but many adults way older than teenagers seem to engage in it too.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Morat20 says:

          Another thing that, I think, makes it more damaging for those on the receiving end (which, at least some of the time a lot of us were) and more attractive for those of us who were dishing it out (and again, at least some of the time a lot of us were) is that adolescents are generally in a phase of life where they’re far more influenced by their peer group than their parents, authority figures, or really anybody else.

          And our culture and the way we structure education means that we spend those years doing the vast majority of socialization with people in our birth cohort, more or less, who are all, like you say, screwing everything up as they try to orient themselves.

          Again as you said it’s not an excuse for awful behavior. But it sort of makes it seem… a bit more inevitable.

          Through one of those odd social contingencies of adulthood, I’ve gotten to know a fair number of people involved with the “unschooling” scene here in NJ [1], and it sounds like a lot of the kids who struggle in conventional school environments and then start doing better outside of them are, in large part, doing better because they’ve been pulled away from that environment which sounds like it’s almost designed to be as toxic as possible.

          [1] As best I can tell, “unschooling” is what happens when a bunch of suburban upper middle class professionals start homeschooling and realize they don’t have the time to pull it off properly, so start trying to fill the gaps with money and social connections.Report

          • Avatar atomickristin in reply to pillsy says:

            Yes, exactly. When I was deciding whether or not to put my kids into school I very much viewed being the bully as being worse for the psyche than being the bullied. And being in that situation it’s often kill or be killed and I have huge regrets about turning on someone weaker/less popular than myself just to keep the focus off of me.

            Unschooling is more of a general philosophy (although that’s definitely a form it can take, and lack of time does play into it) where the kid kinda follows their bliss. Some kids do really well with it, others end up playing video games all day. There’s benefits and drawbacks to both structure and unstructured time.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to atomickristin says:

              Unschooling is more of a general philosophy (although that’s definitely a form it can take, and lack of time does play into it) where the kid kinda follows their bliss.

              Yeah, I should probably have realized that if all the folks I hear about something from live near Princeton, they may not be entirely representative of the national view of it.

              But their concerns were very Princeton-y, and had a strong, “Oh, we were very reluctant until we realized that unschooling wouldn’t prevent Junior from getting into an Ivy League school and going on to get a job as the Executive Director of Directing Executives at Yoyodyne!” vibe.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        They are protecting their own status and the status of their group. A few years ago I was on the subway back home after a long day. There were two young women loudly complaining about the new boyfriend of one of their friends. Their entire complaint was that he was too short. They obviously had an image of what men should look like and by being who knows how many inches bellow that goal, did not belong in the inner sanctum of their clique. Since he was dating a friend, they couldn’t really exclude him though.Report

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to LeeEsq says:

          That’s terrible.

          I do think you’re right that at least in the case of my friend, she felt like her property value was inexorably linked to mine and when I hung out with the wrong people in her eyes, her worth rose or fell along with me. She was really my only true friend so I listened more than I should.Report

  3. One of the ways things have changed is the internet. You can get to know someone online and that will change your perception of their looks once you meet them IRL. I’ve never been attractive myself — had horrifying acne until I was like 87 (it seems). But people I’ve gotten to know online first sometimes respond to me better than people I met IRL first.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy says:

    This is a really great piece. I don’t know if “enjoy” is quite the right word, but I’m very glad I read it.Report

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