The other night I ran into a friend at a popular bar on the east side of Austin. Like many east sides of major cities, the neighborhood is where a number of artsy and irreverent kids hang out. And by artsy and irreverent I mean don’t have jobs. The friend was describing to me how difficult it often is to frequent such scenes where every single girl is particularly hip and beautiful looking. They’re the sort of women that could make one feel conscious of their subconscious need to up the ante. Their eyes couldn’t be any doe-ier, their noses any smaller, or their body fat any less a negative number. They look like Kate Moss circa 1993 and they know it. You in turn pout your lips a little further out, turn your toes in a little more in attempt to beat out their Lookbook go-to stance, and walk across the bar as though floating in slow-motion through your own personal music video when seeing these sort of girls.
In other words, it’s one giant contest of who is the most noticeable.
Though this wasn’t the exact verbiage used by my friend, I understood what she was hinting at but I plainly told her that I didn’t agree.
Having lived in Los Angeles I encountered a lot of beautiful people. After moving to Texas I saw even more. I know this because the type of people that frequent the Los Angeles Whole Foods and the Austin Whole Foods are about on par. If there is anything that I’ve learned in my obviously very wise 27 years on this planet, it’s that aesthetic beauty has absolutely nothing on self-confidence and character in terms of attractiveness. In other words, if you don’t have the stuff to back it up, then who really cares? Sure looking like the physical manifestation mash-up of glorious mountaintops, ocean sunsets, and God’s luxurious long locks will get you noticed and a few foots in the door, but ultimately having self-assurance will take you through the door, down the hallway, and hopefully to another door that has something really f’ing cool in it.
Let’s check out Prince as an example, shall we? That mother-fucker is tiny. He’s as wee as a shrinky-dink in the hot summer sun. But that dude got cooter. Heaping loads of it. I’m sure that little man couldn’t stay afloat in all the female anatomy chucked his way by the minute. So how is it that a really minuscule man-child with a ratstache and a torso as compact as a chicken nugget get so many ladies? Because Prince oozed confidence. Prince is and always has been one giant Jell-o mold of certainty in himself. You know what Prince said once? Prince said (in a very low voice, much lower than you’d expect for a man who has perfected the “cat eye” eyeliner), “Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is, “Is there anybody that I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?” If not, then you’re cool.” What I’ve interpreted Prince as saying is that he can hang in the corner by himself, let some of his pubes air out, smirk at nothing in particular, moan while rubbing his butt against the wall like a dog with a plugged sphincter muscle and then walk away without feeling the slightest bit self-conscious.
And this is why Prince continues to win over male and female fans generation after generation.
Besides purple dwarf, my heroes have always been the ladies who bended the boundaries of conventional beauty. Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli- all women who made attractiveness a multi-layered perception. Throw symmetrical faces and chiseled frames to the wind. Dressing however you want to and owning it, dressing outside of your gender, being skilled, being an expert in a craft, knowing what the hell you’re talking about- that is allure.
Now getting back to the conversation I had with my friend at the bar: knowing how to pose for the camera by cocking your head ever-so-slightly and looking bored is not alluring. Combing you hair over your eyes, not smiling, and discussing the only two topics that you currently are interested in- boys and yourself- is not alluring. Not concerning yourself with anything outside your ambivalent bubble is… not…attractive.
It’s not what you wear or how you look that sets you apart, it’s knowing who you are and believing it that does.