The last time I had sex with a guy, he looked up from tying his shoes afterward and said, “You know, you have a really nice body.”
I laughed really hard.
Firstly, because I rarely have sex with anybody who owns the kind of formal footwear that necessitates laces, so I was in a festive mood. Second, because I do not have a “nice body.”
I mean, it’s not terrible. It’s fine. It might be considered “nice” in some kind of desert-island scenario where there are very few other marooned women to compare it against. But it is not generally considered nice for where I live and work — Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, respectively. This goes double for beachwear contexts, which, here, could mean the pool or your job as a tax attorney. Imagine a kind of eternal bathing-suit season.
Here, I’m a beige sleeping bag full of chicken parts. But I’ve found that it’s strangely liberating to be a Southern California 2.5.
I don’t resent the significant portion of the population for whom the maintenance of impossible beauty standards is a job. Look around any restaurant where you don’t order at a counter, and the other diners will probably look like they should be semi-nude background actors on any HBO show. Because they are. Or they’re hoping to be. Or they’re in porno.
Friends who visit me from out of town often report feeling spiritually browbeaten by all the toned-ass conventionally-good-lookings everywhere. And they are EVERYWHERE (even Glendale!). It doesn’t help that you can also already see what they look like naked, their brevity of clothing facilitated by our famous subtropical Mediterranean climate and municipal lack of shame.
But once you’re here for an extended period of time, you sort of stop seeing all of these symmetrical ambulatory man-orchids, and realize what you may not have when you were 12: That’s not you, and it’s never going to be. You know, like when you go to South America and there are six-foot red lizards running around, but the people there are like, “What? Oh, yeah, those. ZZZZ.”
Being constantly surrounded by yacht-ad-gorgeous people has actually made me fetishize them less. They range freely among us, and they are often as screwy and regular as I am. I’m never going to look like the women with chipper metabolisms and angular faces who spend tons of time bonsai-ing themselves into further heights of ludicrous aesthetic aloofness. I’m from Ohio and I’m lazy. The fact is that most of us are not born that way, and, while it’s fine if you want to go to surgical lengths to correct this, eh. I don’t really even like the pain of a light jog.
Not that I haven’t suffered the occasional indignity here: A trainer who told me she specializes in comedians offered to take me to a grocery store and point out what foods were bad for me. (Girl, I know what foods are bad! I’m chubby, not stupid.) A TV writer I went out with told me I looked “different” than I do on Facebook after asking me out, via Facebook. (Do you think he meant better-looking? I do!)
Do I die a little when this happens? Sure, but it’s not like it was in high school, when I’d wish on spell candles from the Wiccan store to look more like Natalie Portman, so that all the smart boys would like me. Even when I lived in New York, I felt like to be successful as a writer, I also had to have people think I’m pretty and thin. Now I realize that the last two things are not part of my job description, because they’re part of someone else’s.
After just a few years of living and working here alongside actual underpants models and professional television break-dancers, I’ve stopped noticing all the abs on the girl delivering my UPS packages. I just remind myself that literally nobody cares if I look good or not except for me, and assholes.
My neighbors look traditionally hot because they moved here in the hopes that someday people would want to look at them, professionally. The idea of being assessed by my ability to be attractive — especially while trying to say words well — gives me hives, as it should. That’s not normal!
Unless, of course, you want to be in a franchise action film, in which case, go with God/Vin Diesel and start panicking about your bone structure all you want.
I’d much rather obsess about my career and my car. And I’ll save my energy for flirting with the Domino’s guy. He’s beautiful.