My friends thought I was crazy when I hired Swara as our new babysitter. “She’s too hot,” they said. “She will bring wolves to your door,” another said. The “wolves” being other dads who would become enamored with her hypnotic beauty.
My friends were not being hyperbolic. Hatvik would have wept over Swara’s perfect hip-to-waist ratio and porcelain skin. Her hair, the color of softly churned butter, fell in long plaits to her hips. At five feet nine inches, she towered over my kids with legs and arms that seemed to multiply like Dev’s limbs.
Ever try on one of those flowy, bohemian dresses and think — I look like a circus tent. Who the hell would this look good on? The answer is Swara.
The first week she was with us, I put her perfectly sculpted, baby giraffe thighs to work. I made her accompany me when making heavy purchases. Not to help lift things. Oh no. While in the past, I had to lug the potted rubber tree plant to the car on my own, I suddenly had three able-bodied gentlemen rolling up their sleeves with a “Can I help you with that ma’am?” (Men oddly always called me “ma’am” in Swara’s presence.)
If we went grocery shopping together, random male employees would stop to ask us if we had found everything we were looking for. Then with beads of perspiration forming at their temples and the whiff of pheromones gone awry, I would have to crush their hopes with, “No, I think we can find the peaches without your help.”
She was like some mystical Snow White, making the male forest creatures bow before her. I would watch her long, golden hair swoosh around her Botticelli hips and wonder — what would it be like to be that beautiful?
Then the second thought would always follow…why was Swara so damn unhappy all the time?
When I spoke to her, it felt like I was communicating with a fembot programmed not to display emotion. Every time I asked her opinion on a subject, her eyes stilled even more. At times, she reminded me of a delicate butterfly pinned under museum glass. Beautiful to look at, but still undeniably dead.
It is not hard to see why I was confused by her melancholy. Beautiful people spend their lives being given more than plain-looking people. Studies show they make more money, babies look at them longer, and they even cause our brains to pump out more dopamine when we gaze upon their loveliness. Life must be pretty sweet for the beautiful ones.
Or so I thought.
As time passed, and I observed Swara more, I came to understand why sadness followed her like Achlys’ mist. I would ask her about her many suitors and they all ended in the same tragic tale — they dated her for a month or two and then tossed her aside. Beauty alone could not hold their attention.
And while the rest of us mere mortals give an occasional passing thought to aging when picking out a face crème, Swara fought a constant battle between beauty and time. Because she knew something about this gift, the gods had bestowed upon her — it was not hers to keep.
Think about that for a moment. Imagine being admired all your life for something that you would eventually lose? Imagine having an exceptional gift for playing the piano or developing a world-renown reputation for quantum physics, but by fifty, the gift would begin to fade away. That is the fragile existence that was Swara’s.
While in the past, I had cried Kavanagh tears when anyone lamented how hard it was to be thin or pretty, I now began to feel sorry for beautiful people. I began to understand being a goddess is not an easy gig.
The research on pretty people’s happiness is surprising. A study from The Journal of Positive Psychology found attractive supermodels had a lower sense of well-being than average-looking people. When you are beautiful, it is the first (and often the last) thing people see. Attractive people fit neatly into the ideals portrayed in music videos, glossy print ads, and filtered Instagram photos. But when you scrape away the cultural debris, beautiful people are reduced to a fleeting chimera.
And that means they must work much harder to be seen.
The story of Swara does not end well. She started behaving erratically around my kids, and when she left a loaded revolver in the house…it was time to set my beautiful creature free to seduce others. But she taught me a valuable lesson on the curse of beauty: when you bite into that apple, you are in a race against time. If you’ve let beauty become the core of your identity, what happens when your beauty dies?
So, next time you are stuffing your jiggly bits into the latest shapewear or slapping on one of those slimy sheet masks, weep for the beautiful ones. They have been warmed all their lives by the heat of approval. Some will realize the fleeting nature of this gift and develop an inner strength that will burn brighter than their perfect faces. But some will not. Feel just a tiny, tiny bit sorry for the ones who do not. Because when the summer of their youth passes, they may have a harder time withstanding the cold.
Next blog will be out soon.Desai Thoughts MEdia.
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