Friday, June 27, 2014

Beauty And The Beast

Blame it on the sting of cheap red wine. Blame it on that strange magic that is summertime. 

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic. Worlds had to be in travail, that the meanest flower might blow.”
- The Picture of Dorian Gray

It is days like this that the demons of the past come to haunt me. 

As a woman that possesses some kind of strange, dark beauty, I have come to accept that there will be strange men staring, and outright gawking, the occasional lewd gesture, catcalling, and even blatant sexist remarks. I have accepted this fact, and I have learned to keep my eyes to the ground, avoid making eye contact, and to never crack the slightest smile. I can feel the penetrating heat of the eyes that are on me, and I can often hear the footsteps and whispers behind me as I walk. I am embittered just thinking about what I deal with on a daily basis. I don't pretend to be a great beauty, it is something that is forced upon me. Things I don't even think of myself are present in the minds of others. It is truly amazing how, if you possess some sort of beauty, people will either immortalize you, discriminate against you (beautiful = incompetent/unintelligent), or despise you. I have discussed my thoughts on beauty many times before, but today I just wanted to write down the facts of who I really am.

I am a global nomad and a citizen of the world. I once described myself as floating between worlds...I am not entirely accepted in my home country and not entirely accepted in my adopted country. As a little girl I had a book containing every alias that I could come up with, including a full biography. I grew up dreaming of being a spy . I guess that is what growing up with James Bond, The Avengers, and your parents dragging you through countries only written about in spy novels will do to a little girl. I even seriously considered joining the CIA after high school.  I never thought of myself as much of a beauty. I am the only dark featured child out of six children. The rest of my siblings look like what the Aryan super-race should have looked like - icy azure or seafoam colored eyes, platinum blond hair, and porcelain skin. In turn, I was often mistaken for a gypsy - you see, I have that unmistakable Mediterranean skintone - I turned a deep, glowing bronze after only a half an hour in the sun. I am the only one in my family with turkish coffee colored eyes. I remember, vividly, that once an old lady chased after me with her broom because she thought I was a gypsy. Ah, memories. 

The summer when I was ten years old, I was introduced to a world that would forever define me. The years when I was ten, eleven, and twelve, hold some of the most magical and most painful memories for me. It was through these years that I learned to sharpen my nails enough to draw blood. As the only American girl living in an ex-Communist country where women were thought of as inferior - this is how I survived. Barely. I was locked in elevators with my best friend and forced to watch her do unspeakable things. I was grabbed off the street in broad daylight and locked in strange rooms. I was beat and spit on and held up by my ponytail if I put up too much of a fight. Needless to say, I was quite a fighter...and I learned to outrun and outwit many an adversary. But the damage had been done. These things led to the development of agoraphobia...something that I have attempted to explain so many times to close friends and family, yet still fails to be acknowledged or understood. I remember my father once telling me, "It was all your fault", and, "Your timidity is a sin". I love my father, but he never will understand what it was like to be a blossoming girlchild under such suffocating and unforgiving circumstances. As a survivor ( I refuse to utter that word...victim!) of such abuse, I find myself occasionally fighting back the sting of tears as I walk down the street and am the target of unwanted attention. I find it so unfair, and so unjust, that I, as a woman, have to fight this battle and the opposite sex has no idea how it is to feel like the broken child that I am. I know that I am not alone, but goddamn, most days it feels that way. I fake my confidence, and I fake my composure, because I have to pretend in order to face the world I live in. People think that because I am nice, and that I always smile, that it is because I haven't faced adversity or because I am unintelligent and naive. It is generalizations like these that will always haunt me, but they will never let me forget who I really am. 

Please, just remember:

Never judge a book by its cover.

Comrade Von Pussycat

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