Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Downfall of an ex-Beauty Queen

How can I say this without sounding vain and arrogant…

I used to be very beautiful when I was young. Not just pretty or cute, cause most young people are good-looking by the simple virtue of their youth. No, I was drop-dead gorgeous, the type of beauty that makes people walk into lampposts. Two real I-swear-to-God anecdotes to prove my claim. Geneva 1970s : I was working as a tour guide when I was accosted by a man claiming to be the Vice-president of the Miss World Competition Secretariat in England (he gave me his business card as proof). He asked me to write to him for the official entry forms so that I could get the necessary sponsors and become a contestant. Montreal 1980s : I was being followed on the street by a persistent admirer, so I found a policeman and complained to him : «Officer, this man is following me and pestering me!». The cop answered : «Can’t say I blame him!». He shooed the other guy away, then turned to me and asked for my phone number.

Now that I have established my claim as a beauty queen, let’s get to the real point of this post: looks do matter. Because of the way I was raised (very strictly), I was never really aware of my good looks nor did I know how to take advantage of them. I grew up thinking that people are naturally kind and helpful, traffic agents are normally forgiving and bus drivers always, always stop their bus and wait if they see you running from afar. It is well known however that good looking and/or tall people get promoted more often and are considered as more honest and trustworthy in polls. I've learned recently that parents tend to favour their better looking children over the homely ones. Yes, looks do matter and I was Queen of the world.

That world started crumbling as soon as I reached menopause. I inflated like a blimp and started losing my hair. Men no longer stare with open mouth when I walk in a room and customs agents are now demanding that I open my suitcases instead of waving me by with a smile like before. And I still get startled when I suddenly catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror because I don't recognize my reflection.

Last weekend I hit rock bottom. I went to a beauty salon to have my hair done. As he was washing my hair, the shampoo boy was chatting with another apprentice working at the sink next to us. Since he wasn't paying attention, he splashed my face with water. Without even turning off the water, he mumbled some apologies, grabbed a towel and started wiping away my makeup. Normally, it takes a lot to make me angry. Years of being «ugly» after my days of glory have cut me down a few notches and made me more tolerant and forgiving. But this time, I howled such a string of curses that the salon went suddenly silent and the owner came running to apologize and liberate me from the oaf. When I finally left the salon, my hair was dried and coiffed, but half of my face had no makeup and the other half was all smudged up. In other words, I must be the only woman in the world that leaves a beauty salon uglier and scarier-looking than when she first went in.

Don't hate me cause I'm not beautiful!

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