Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Beauty's Sharp Sword.

Byline: GENDER SPECIFIC By Anne Pedersen

Intellectuals, feminists, our mothers they all tell us we don't need outer beauty. Yet its power is unmistakable

I was 13, the age my daughter is now, when I realized I could look like the models in VOGUE. Up until that time my sense of my physical self had been uninspiring: glasses, braces, frizzy hair, the classic image of the bookworm. But soon after puberty the braces came off and I acquired contact lenses. In the bathroom, I slicked back my hair and made myself up in the exaggerated fashion of the day pale mouth, huge dark eyes only to emerge to the startled, apprehensive gaze of my parents. Perhaps they had some sense of what was to come; I didn't. I was playing. But soon I learned this game was powerful, with an edge.

Being attractive proved a decidedly mixed blessing. People whom I thought would know better made assumptions about me based solely on how I looked: that I was a "dumb blonde" (Harvard degree notwithstanding), shallow, even promiscuous. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.