When I was studying Acting a few decades ago, I met a woman whom I will call Alice. She was an average looking woman; we might have used the term “plain” back then to describe her. She was probably 5’7″ tall, with dark blonde hair and a thin build. Here’s the thing: Alice thought she was gorgeous! Seriously, she would tell you that she could get any Man she wanted. She would also tell stories about her Dad, and how he had put her on a pedestal when she was a child. She was his darling, and she had been told she was remarkably beautiful. Thus, her belief system was built.
Now, my Dad loved me; but he was never big on compliments, and I have never had any illusions about my looks. (Not looking for sympathy here, but I have always been pretty realistic about my strengths and weaknesses in the beauty department.)I have thought most times my appearance ranged from acceptable to cute, and that’s the hand Mother Nature dealt me. That being said, I did have one Ace up my sleeve: I got great gams! My legs, from the time I was a teenager, have been well-shaped and strong. One former beau called them “dancer’s legs”; I had studied dance for years, and always loved to dance, so it seemed to fit. While crossing the USC campus on my first trip to California, I encountered a young man, presumably a student. He stopped in his tracks, looked and me(I was then wearing a miniskirt, blouse and high heels) and said “Damn…you got great legs!”. Thus my belief system was built.
In 1970 I met David, my first husband. In the Spring of 1971 I bought a pair of Blue Suede Hotpants, which fit me like a glove. These hotpants were so empowering that I cannot begin to explain the magic of wearing them! I am certain that the following facts played into the mystique: I was 20 years old, in love, and quite slim. Nevertheless, when I put on my hotpants, I stopped the endless criticizing that women adopt as their mantras. I knew I looked good!
In the photograph above, I am wearing the hotpants on a street in Chinatown in San Francisco, accompanied by David’s friend, Neil. The three of us had lunch there that afternoon. It was my first trip to the city I would soon call home, and it was a good day.
During the next several decades, I bought quite a few short skirts, skirts with side slits, and other clothes that accentuated my legs. I guess we all learn to play to our strengths. We learn, too, that looks are temporary manifestations of our physicality, and that they change as we age. If we are fortunate, we learn that what we develop in our hearts and minds far outweighs the vanity in which we invest our youth. We learn these truths and become humbled by them.
If we are fortunate enough to be healthy and have our memories, we can look back on our youthful days and remember what it felt like to be vain and silly. We can chuckle at our young selves, and the drama of growing up. We can be grateful that we have the wisdom we have attained, and we can feel happy knowing we are loved for whom we truly are.
I know that the pair of Blue Suede Hotpants tucked away upstairs is not something I will likely ever wear again. I have traded most of my youthful foolishness for maturity and sagacity. But I am keeping the Hotpants!