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Make-Out Makeover

By Mink Stole | Posted 12/5/2001

I know beauty is supposed to be only skin deep, but when the skin isn't pretty, it's hard for the inner radiance to show through. The truth is, I'm ugly. I know it, I've always known it, and I thought I was used to it. I thought I had stopped caring about ever having any romance in my life, but recently I started a relationship with a man I met on the phone through work, and now he calls me almost every day. He says he wants to meet me, maybe for a drink after work one day, but I'm afraid that after he sees me he'll never call again, and I'll lose him even as a friend. Is there anything I can do to make myself prettier?

Frog Princess


Dear Princess:
Looks do matter, but it's hard to believe anyone is as bad off as you think you are. Mirrors lie all the time. Think of those poor bulimic and anorexic gals who look at their scrawny, wasted little selves and see whales, and gals you'd think of as just ordinary-looking who are so sure they're adorable that they convince everybody else. While part of being attractive is definitely genetics, a much bigger part is attitude. Yours needs some work.

The French have an expression I love, jolie laide, which literally means ugly/beautiful or ugly/sexy. It's their way of celebrating women who aren't traditionally attractive, feature by feature, but who exude a certain je ne sais quoi, an intangible irresistible quality that people respond to. Think Courtney Love. Think Sarah Jessica Parker.

Prettiness alone is not that interesting, you know. Pretty girls are a dime a dozen, and, as the mother of an old beau of mine once said, "Pretty fades, but dumb is forever." Without having had easy good looks to depend on, you have had to develop whatever wit, charm, or humor that this guy finds intriguing. This is good. Be proud of this. And even if your genetics are as bad as you think (which I doubt), you can have style. It's a lot harder than just being born gorgeous, but once you have it, you have it for keeps.

This could cost you some money, but, believe me, it will be well spent. Invest in a good hairdresser (interview a few until you find one you like--it's an important relationship) who can give you the simplest, most flattering, and easiest to manage cut. Treat yourself to a facial and have a professional show you how to do your makeup--not how to tart yourself up like a two-bit streetwalker, but how to accentuate your best features and minimize the others. Check out fashion magazines for ideas (try looking at just the clothes, not the lucky freaks of nature wearing them), shop for clothes that fit you well, and get rid of any really unflattering stuff you've already got. It's much better to wear the same few good things over and over than to show up in crap just for the sake of variety. If you're unhappy about your weight, get into a program. The better care you take of yourself, the better you feel; the better you feel, the better you look. Not easy, but simple. And look, if all of this is just too hard, you can always volunteer to read to the blind.

I'm a fairly average high school girl, I guess. I've had some dates, nothing special, but I've never had a real boyfriend. My best friend dates a lot and can pretty much have her choice of guys. The problem is she wants them all. Lately I've been talking to a really nice guy that I'm beginning to like, and he seems to like me too. Now my friend has started acting all annoyed if I talk to him, and has started to flirt with him whenever she sees us together. She says she met him first (which is true). She says I'm not being a good friend if I spend time with him instead of with her. Am I supposed to be loyal to her and forget about this guy, or should I see what happens with him and not worry about her feelings?

Confused Sophomore

Dear Sophomore:
What a bitch! This gal doesn't need this guy, she just needs you not to have him. She wants you available on her terms and she's used to being the more desirable member of your team. If he likes you better, that throws the balance of your relationship with her totally out of whack. Which might just be a really good idea.

This boy may or may not be perfect for you, and he may or may not be your first real love, but you deserve the chance to find out. If she didn't make a play for him when she first met him, she's got no claim. I hate to see women wreck a good friendship over a guy, but part of being a good friend is not competing for guys. It would be a whole lot friendlier of her to help you to date him.

Talk to this boy as much as you and he both want to and go out with him if you can (he does have a say in the matter, after all). If she can't deal with it, that's her problem.

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