Just got back from my trip to Chicago. The Good: The food! Ahem…oh, yeah, and family. The Bad: The absolute worst sleep I’ve had in months, resulting in migraines every day during my trip (I thought for sure I’d come home and fall asleep right away, but here I am instead). The Ugly: Having to go back to work tomorrow. And stupid Red Line reconstruction almost ruining my entire trip.
Because of my trip, I didn’t have time to blog about this topic I started thinking about shortly before I left. It came from a conversation my work friend Clara and I had recently. First of all, Clara doesn’t know I’m a lesbian, which is something I’m not at all interested in telling people in the workplace. Second, I’ve written here before a little bit about how guys are always chasing after her, which is something I admitted that I don’t understand because I don’t think she’s that physically attractive. She’s a good person, though, which I don’t think is immediately obvious. She’s funny, works hard and knows everyone because she speaks to everyone. And she’s smart and observant. She has a son, and you can tell she’s a good mother, which I think, to be honest with you, is a dying art (being a truly good parent–in the US, anyway).
Ever since I skipped the breakfast event at work, which I wrote about a couple of posts ago, I think she has taken an interest in including me socially, as well as making sure I eat. Every time she’s going on break or going to lunch, she basically tells me to go with her and she usually has something for me to eat. One day we were eating lunch, and we started talking about skin color. At one point during the conversation, she said something like…”With as light-skinned as you are, you should have men coming after you” or something very similar to that. Some of us tease her all the time about how she has all these men interested in her, so she was partially referring back to that. Now, there are a few ways to take what she said, including as racist/offensive, especially since it wasn’t coming from another black person. But I know Asians also have skin color issues within their own race, light/dark issues like black people have. She could simply think, as many black women do, that men prefer women with lighter skin color. Regardless, when people say things like this it’s kind of ridiculous to me, but not offensive–it is hard to offend me.
For the most part, it’s ridiculous out of disagreement (I do think there’s a standard of beauty in the US that hurts most women of color, not so much in a light vs dark same-race way but in a white vs non-white or non-black vs black way, but that’s a topic for another time). I’ve told Clara several times that she wouldn’t have issues with all these guys she’s not interested in following her around, contacting her, looking for her, etc, if she weren’t so friendly. Still, I never realized exactly what I was saying until this day we were having lunch, discussing skin color. I had told her before that I don’t have to fight off men because I am not friendly (which I love), and this same day I told her in response to her comment about skin color, “It’s a personality thing.”
Light-bulb moment–guys like average-looking Clara because of her personality, her approachability. This explains why I’m always seeing average-looking, or worse, women and men with someone or getting attention, sometimes more so than someone who is more physically attractive. I’ve written several blog posts about how employers seem to value personality more than being a good employee nowadays–or at least seem to be headed in that direction–and now this.
And I don’t think it’s a matter of having a good personality vs not having a good personality. You can have a good personality and get ignored. But someone like Clara is constantly talking to people, constantly laughing and joking, and she always talks to or responds to guys she’s not even interested in despite knowing they’re interested in her–she doesn’t ignore any of them, and she’s never seriously mean to them. She might get play-mean with them, but everyone knows how she is and doesn’t get offended or hurt. I’ve told her, “If you’re not interested in these guys, stop being nice to them. You’re encouraging them.” It’s like talking to the wall, which led me to conclude that she likes the attention. These are guys she dogs when they’re not around.
Some months ago, I was reading online a discussion where the question was something like…”would you rather have looks or intelligence?” Of course, almost everyone went the PC route and said they’d rather have intelligence. Well, I have intelligence. I’m not saying you can’t have looks and intelligence, or even looks, personality and intelligence–though I think most people have, at most, 2 out of 3 and not all 3. I just so happen to have one–intelligence. Among the three, if I had to choose just one I’d choose looks, though I can’t articulate why…especially since I believe that I’ve figured out that, out of the 3, personality is what gets you farthest in love, life, career and everything in between. Most of us have spent a long time not believing that, but the older you get the more true I think this is. Personality is key, and intelligence is dead last–I speak from experience regarding intelligence and observation regarding personality. And how many famous hotties do you see with divorces on their records? Halle Berry can’t seem to pay a man to stick with her.
Still, somehow I’d rather be good-looking…maybe because I view faking personality as easier than faking physical attractiveness…maybe because I don’t think I totally lack a personality but merely appear to lack one to people who don’t know me or just don’t have the kind of personality most people appreciate. For the most part, I’m happy with my personality. And I used to be arrogant about my intelligence, I loved it so much. And then I realized others don’t value it the way I do, and now it is what it is–my guess as to “what it is” is icing on the cake if you’re either attractive or have a good personality or both…but it’s certainly not the cake. I’ve just never been happy with my looks, and, you know, the grass is always greener…