I love Barbie. I’ve said before that I want to be her, I always have. The Barbie of my childhood was beautiful, independent, and had a slew of careers—which proves she had commitment issues over anything else—still, she could do anything, be anything, and do it in four-inch heels.
What never occurred to me was that if Barbie were gorgeous, she would also have to be unintelligent; even though she was a Veterinarian and School Teacher and even as she was a Pediatrician and an Astronaut. Could she have been all those things and still be considered an idiot based on her looks? Possibly.
When I was growing up, people assumed I was brainy. I don’t know why. I’ve always had dark hair and dark eyes, and wore glasses for a short amount of time, so maybe I just looked bookish? Perhaps, it was my sarcasm that made me seem astute. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t mind it.
Over the past few years, a new phenomenon has crept up. Suddenly, people treat me like an imbecile—I’m constantly talked down to and have things overly explained to me. Without any prompting from me, someone once clarified what natural gas was as if I was a slobbering simpleton who required wearing a bib at all times! Another time it was assumed I couldn’t play the game Scrabble because it was too hard. Imagine, a writer playing a word game, inconceivable, right? This new experience has baffled me. Sure, I don’t know everything there is to know about the world, but natural gas? Come on!
The older I get, the worse it gets. I’ve tried handling it in different ways: sarcasm tops my coping mechanism list, I respond by exaggerating my stupidity looking directly at the person and asking, “Really? I don’t pull on the door that says push?” I ignore, leave, and make jokes. Nothing seems to work. It’s irritating as well as mystifying. What happened? Why am I being perceived as this mega-moron? Usually, I walk away, but sometimes these suggestions sting and make me self-conscious.
Recently, after a night of dodging ignoramus pellets flung at me by people I’ve known half of my life, I came home distraught. I vowed I was never going to go to another dinner party again. I meant it, too. Then my daughter presented me with a new concept as to why I was dumbed-down.
“It’s because you’re pretty. People can’t handle it if an attractive woman is also smart. They need to think of you as having a flaw otherwise they feel bad about themselves.”
It was a nice thought, though one I immediately brushed off. I’ve never thought of myself as pretty—I mean, I have good hair days and fantastic wardrobe moments, but the title of beautiful makes me bristle. Even if I’m looked at too long, my fight or flight instinct kicks in, and I taste bile. Being too attractive to be intelligent is unfathomable. Isn’t it?
I admit that over the past few years my appearance has changed. My face is slimmer than it was in my twenties. I finally grew into my two front teeth. I don’t have acne anymore—not like I used to, anyway. I’ve learned how to dress for my body type. I wear accentuating eyeliner and lipstick. I’ve become who I want to become. However, does growing into myself come with a numbskull side effect? Does it have to? I don’t know.
While writing this piece, I sat at my desk squirming and breaking out in a sweat. The old commercial, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” swirled in my mind and I’ve given myself a headache with all the eye rolls I’ve done over the last hour. However, because my blog consists of all things having to do with self-discovery, I had to write about this one thing—this stupid something that makes no sense to me. I’m driven by the plight of either accepting what my daughter said or believing what I’ve always thought about myself whilst bobbing and weaving cretin insults. What to do about it, I still don’t know. Has this happened to anybody else?