My father actually told my mother that the reasons, among others, they divorced was because I was ugly and she was fat. Many years later, when I my brother, his wife, and my first husband, Mark, and I visited him in San Diego, he sat across from me wiping his nose and pointing at me, then laughing and nudging my brother conspiratorially. He wouldn’t tell me what it meant, and it felt threatening. Finally his girlfriend saw him do it, and told him to stop. I asked her what it meant, and she said, “It means, ‘You’re ugly.'” To say that I had a complex about appearance might be a mild understatement.
Over the years I have worked hard to overcome the flaws that are beatable, and live with the ones that aren’t. I don’t think Dad’s estimation of me being ugly is or was an accurate one, but I have worked, to the best of my ability and interest level, at being physically attractive over the years. During this past extended vacation with my brother, a comment he made opened my eyes to what makes a person attractive. I told another friend about the story, and she said I needed to write a blog post about it.
A beautiful woman in her 60s then gave me three tips to help any normal person stay attractive even into their later years. When she was 80, she looked younger than I did at 40. She looked better than both of her daughters who sort of spurned her advice, and weren’t overly interested in maintaining their good looks. Her simple advice was:
- Keep your figure in shape. If you have a good figure, it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, they will always look good.
- Take care of your face. Use sunscreen, and learn how to use make-up. You can cover up a lot of flaws that way.
- Always make sure your hair looks nice.
That about sums it up for most people. As you age these three tips become more difficult, but they are all doable. On a purely physical level, I’ll add three more of my own tips.
- If you can afford medical procedures, maintain what you need to keep healthy. This includes teeth, eyes, joints, skin, internal organs, and whatever else shows undue aging.
- Take vitamins, but don’t overdo it on medicine. Everything has a side effect.
- Watch your diet. You may not be overweight, and might not be consuming too many calories, but eating the right foods will help maintain all of those items mentioned in both #1 tips.
That about sums it up for everyone. But none of those will make you really attractive. The next part of this story will explain what opened my eyes about BEING attractive.
My brother and I were not close even though we were only two years apart. We didn’t do much together. I was older, bossy, and lived my own life. He was younger, angry much of the time, and developed insights I didn’t have. I don’t think I was any meaner than any other sister would have been, but I was disinterested. As the years went by, nothing much changed. I moved first a hundred, then a thousand miles away from him with my first husband, and never went back except for infrequent visits. After our first move, I coaxed my mom to come live with us by finding her a job. It was the first time my brother had been separated from her. He was 26.
She remained in that little town long after I left, and eventually moved back to Portland, where Randy lived, and lived there comfortably many years. When she had to go on dialysis, she moved to California so I could take care of her. Randy was livid, and wrote a 20 page hateful letter to me recounting all my past sins, and became very uncooperative in getting her settled. After three years, he finally visited her, and admitted that she was better off than when she lived by herself. When she died, he came down to California. Mom didn’t want him to come. “I’m coming down to support you,” he told me and came anyway. He was a tremendous support to me at that time.
Randy just turned 60, and I wanted to do something special for his birthday. I told him about 8 months ago what I had in mind, and he was excited. During the trip we played, laughed, shared memories, and didn’t criticize each other, except maybe for a few comments about stopping smoking. (Add that to the physical tips!) I called him endearing terms. They just came out naturally, and believe me, that was not part of our family upbringing. The picture above is the ONLY adult picture I can remember where we had our arms around each other, holding tight like people who care.
At the end of the trip we were looking at old pictures, and there was a very unattractive one of me at about age 23. I remarked that I thought I look better now than I did in my 20s.
He said, “You’ve always been a very attractive woman, but you do look more attractive now.” His comment blew me away, because in 60 years he has NEVER told me I was pretty. His compliment inspired my last tips on being attractive. If you follow these suggestions I think anyone can be attractive no matter what their age or physical condition.
- Smile often, but especially when you first see a person. Of course, don’t smile when they are telling you they are dying of cancer or something devastating to them.
- Really care about people around you. Show this by doing nice things.
- Be genuinely interested in their lives, their children and grand-children. Show this by listening and asking questions.
- Be kind to them. Use kind words, never sarcasm.
- Be appropriately affectionate.
- Don’t criticize, unless you are VERY concerned about their well-being. Even then, be guided by kindness and respect.
- Have fun with them, and take time to do the things they want to do.
If you do these things you will be the most attractive person in the world.