Carolyn Hax: Looking back when it's about looks

The Washington PostMarch 7, 2014 

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On the agony of the bombshell:

My mother was movie-star gorgeous and let me know she was disappointed that I didn't measure up.

Eventually, I realized she was indeed both blessed and cursed. I had good women friends where she did not. When she turned about 50, she decided she was losing her looks (she wasn't). Although she was smart, funny, capable and talented, she saw herself only as beautiful and pined away. Her life was lived in one dimension.

BOMBSHELL'S DAUGHTER

A long-ago subordinate (a woman; I'm a guy) was an ex-model. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

The comments, back-biting and sabotage by envious women were disturbing. And unstoppable, at least by me.

Women peers reported that the ex-model spent a remarkable amount of time prior to every meeting in front of a mirror prepping herself, fixing hair and reapplying makeup. While some men viewed her as beautiful, an equal number didn't seem to notice.

In retrospect, I think her life was awful. She must have assumed her career success was dependent on looks, something nonsustainable.

C.

On going to reunions despite a painful school experience (or: Bombshell agony, continued):

I have been to all of my reunions. The 10th was awful - very competitive, still playing old games. By 20, everyone had seen some hardship and tragedy and was much more forgiving and willing to share the people they had become. By 25, the mellowness was delicious.

Keep in mind that "it's not over until it's over." One of our "Senior Beauties" came up to me, the class nerd, at a reunion and said, "I always envied you in school." (ME?) "You were admired for your brain, and I was just a pretty face." Healing is possible, but you have to decide to be a part of it.

R.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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