New York

On My Not Hot

by Cris Gladly on November 19, 2011

image source: lecontainer.blogspot

I … am not hot.

I am not hot.
I am not smokin’.
I am no picture perfect model.

I am just an average looking woman
perceived as attractive for having a beautiful spirit.

At times I can look absolutely lovely, even downright stunning!
But there are also times I look like a bus backed over my head.

I mention the subject of my non-hotness
because it throws me into a dark pit of self-deprecating despair from time to time.
Especially since I went Solo.

Now that I’m out here, being, ya know … single,
it’s hard not to wonder how I measure up.
Especially after noticing all of the PYTs running around loose out here
and the throngs of fellas stumbling and bumbling with desire after them.

This has been an area of serious and significant struggle for me.
That is until my recent Terrified Traveler adventure to New York City.
During which, two experiences occurred that have forever changed my
perspective on the whole “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” thing.

Experience #1: Beauty is a BEAST, y’all !!

Upon arriving in NYC,
I hopped in a cab
and headed straight to a fashion shoot on Madison Avenue.

My friend sweetBen (whom I stayed with while in the city)
is a phenomenal up and coming beauty/fashion photographer.
I was lucky enough to spend my entire first day in the city
behind the scenes on one of his test shoots.
The experience was a mind-bending eye opener!

Of course we all “know” that beauty images are manufactured,
and yet, when they are everywhere, every day, every place we look,
it’s hard not to internalize them
and believe that obtaining that level of farcical perfection is somehow possible.
(Not to mention: expected!)

But, now, thanks to my behind-the-scenes glimpse at
how every step of the “making pretty” process goes down …
my beauty perspective
(and the demons that like to torture my brain about it)
have finally shifted … hopefully, once and for all!

Perspective A: The Beauty “Reality” We Normally See:

image by Benjamin Stone

A gorgeous 23-year old young woman bubbling over with innocent sexuality.
Hair to die for. Long limbs to die for.
Flawless porcelain skin to die for.
She’s sweet. Slightly sultry. Self-possessed.
An image of ideal beauty.

Perspective B: The Beauty Reality I Saw:

image source: c:g camera phone

The “23-year old” model was actually a gangly 15-year old little girl!!
Visibly unsure and uncomfortable in her prematurely statuesque body.
A 15-year old little girl!!!
For gods sake her MOM was there with her.
She was sweet. Definitely beautiful. But awkwardly shy.

She barely spoke the entire day,
(even though everyone else on set was boisterously chatting away).
She did not eat the entire 8-hour day
(despite the rest of us eating and offering to get her food repeatedly).

For each of her four looks photographed that day,
2 hours of extensive and meticulous hair and makeup were required before hand.
I sat with rapt attention watching the team of talented stylists
paint her, curl her, shellac her, fluff her,
and otherwise “create” her.

From the front, she looked like perfection.
From behind, she kinda looked like the Bride of Frankenstein.

They pinned giant cardboard forms into her hair,
added hair extensions,
then teased and hair-sprayed the hell out of her …
all to create that natural voluminous sexy, sultry hair look.
The cardboard forms actually stayed in her hair during the shoot.
It was comically ridiculous to see.

Despite her being a size 0 …
(sidebar: wouldn’t size 0 mean she doesn’t actually exist?) …
all of her clothes were pinned and binder-clipped together in the back
to create the illusion of the ‘perfect fit’.

Once primed and primped, the model then proceeded to the set,
which was enhanced with flattering lighting.
There she was photographed with a top of the line professional camera
by a skilled beauty/fashion photographer
who would later select only the best images of the hundreds taken
to then edit in Photoshop to final perfection.

image source: pintrest

Ummm. I gotta tell ya.
I’d reeeallllly love to look great for y’all,
but I just don’t have the time, energy or inclination
to try to make my 38-year old self look like a 23-year old hottie, who is actually
a Fashion SWAT Team-styled, expertly lit, Photoshopped 15-year old little girl!

You’re gonna have to tag me out on that one.

And what was even crazier about the experience is that,
the entire time we were there,
this practically perfect, ideally beautiful model had her eye on ME!

I was the only non-industry person there
and looked totally disheveled from having been on the plane.
But I was my socially confident, always friendly and hyper-curious self
and so, made fast friends with everyone there.
I guess my presence resonated.

Because every time the girl would enter the set,
she’d nervously catch my eye at the back of the room
to see what my opinion and feedback was.
I quickly realized this was occurring,
and began to give her lots of warm, “don’t be nervous” smiles
and “you’re doing great” nods and thumbs ups.

But all the while, I was thinking:
Wow! Our society operates an insidious
multi-billion dollar a year beauty industry
designed to make me envy and yearn to be this girl.
And here she is worrying about impressing and getting approval from me.’

Experience #2: Muy Lindo at Fuerza Bruta

image source:

Flash forward three days later to my last night in NYC.
sweetBen took me to see the show Fuerza Bruta
(which, if you get a chance, is a must, must see!).

The audience was totally packed and you stand on your feet the entire time,
moving around the stage to accommodate the shifting twirling action of the show.
FYI: Fuerza Bruta is a bizarrely beautiful visual spectacle
and the Culture Geek in me was ecstatically freaking out.
Picture me in pure bliss, loving every minute of it!

The beats of the show’s infectiously pulsing music made me giddy
and I was dancing my happy heart out,
smiling like a fool and excitedly uttering things out loud like:
“Holy WOW!!!” and “Ohmygosh, I’m in LOVE with this!!”

Suddenly I got the feeling that someone was watching me.
I scanned the crowd to my left
and sure enough, a tall guy a few people away was staring right at me …
a gigantic smile on his face.

He met my eyes, smiled even wider
and raised his eyebrows to convey:
“Isn’t this show great?!”

I smiled back
with a giant wide-eyed-with-wonderment, art-loving look on my face
and he actually chuckled to himself at my enthusiasm,
smiling at me intently …
a look of total delighted appreciation on his face.

From that point on,
he spent as much time watching me watch the show
as he did taking in the performance itself.

I didn’t pay him much attention,
I was too busy being fully present in my own happy moment.
But it struck me that the audience was full of very pretty women;
and in the show, there were three half-naked gorgeous young girls
rolling around together in water just inches over his head.
(I told you, the show = bizarrely beautiful.)
Yet, what was most attractive in the room to him
was the sight of shiny happy me,
utterly and completely enjoying myself.

I thought about what e/S has told me at least 900 times since we became friends:
“Cris, stop obsessing. The prettiest girls are the happy girls.
You are most gorgeous when you stop worrying about being noticed
and are simply yourself.”

image source: pintrest

And suddenly it clicked.
Being ‘model pretty’ might get you noticed for the beauty of how you look.
But being your radiant, joy-filled, authentic self gets you noticed for the beauty of who you are!
(And isn’t the latter so much more fun?!)

I’m content with letting models shoulder the weight of being unrealistically, unobtainably hot.
I’m far more interested in being ’100% glad to be me’ BEAUTIFUL!

How about YOU?
Have you ever not conformed to social beauty standards
yet still managed to be the most gorgeous person in the room?
Leave a comment.
I’d love to hear from beautiful you!

Cris Gladly


No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

by Cris Gladly on October 30, 2011

image source:

I am The Terrified Traveler™!

I don’t mean: ‘extended international travel makes me nervous’.
(I’ve never even been out of the country.)

I mean: I once threw up on a 3-ish hr. flight bound for Denver
on my way to visit two of my dearest friends
because I was scared to death of traveling by myself.
I’m not proud of it, but there you have it.

Fear has it’s hooks in me but good in this area of life.

And so, a HUGE part of me moving gladly beyond fear specifically
is learning to be a less terrified traveler in the world in general.

To that end, my 503 present to myself was getting my passport.

For a sentimental writer like me,
the symbolism of literally giving myself a passport to the world
was just too awesome to resist.

The spiffy new passport now sits in a little makeshift shrine in my family room,
hovering near the wine rack.
(it seemed a fitting place)
And so the energy is out there.
Ahem, … Universe?
Cris would like to go somewhere

Already I have an opportunity for a trip to Nepal in September of 2012,
but I can’t even think about that yet.
I mean, if I threw up on a plane to Denver,
I’m likely to require tranquilizers and a straight jacket
to endure being on a plane to Nepal all day.

Hmm, I think a few “warm up trips” are in order, don’t you?

Ahhh, yes!!!!
It seems the Universe agrees.

Because in less than 4 hours, I will once again meet my nemesis:
the airplane.
Destination: New York City.

To be clear, it is not airplanes I’m afraid of
(although sitting in a chair in the sky does seem a bit insane).
It is what awaits on the other side of the airplane journey that I fear.

You know, that thing the rest of you call “adventure”.

In my former world, it was referred to as “the unknown”.
Filed under Things to Avoid: Danger!
in the folder Why It’s Better to Just Stay at Home.

But now I’m joining the ‘go out and live a little’ ranks, right?
I’m Cris:Gladly!!
I live life BIG!

So, here I go.
Me, on a plane,
… by myself
… to the biggest big city of them all.
[double gulp!]

you know what?
I’m pretty excited!
Because who I was and where I was on the up-chuck route to Denver
is no more.

Sure, I’ve never:
flown into a NYC airport, or
ridden in a taxi, or
stepped foot on a subway.

But in 4 days, when I get back,
none of those statements will be true any longer.

And this is how we grow.
By staring down fear,
stepping through to the other side,
and [poof]
fear of the unknown is gone.

So, here I go.
Bags are packed.
I’m leaving my laptop (a.k.a. my presence-in-the-moment ruiner) at home.
I am READY to go to new places.

Standby for adventure.
The Terrified Traveler™ is going in!!

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