Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zig Zag Railway



Come to the Blue Mountains
And you will surely see
A little train that zigzags
Through the mountain scenery.
Each time that it goes round the bend
We see another scene,
And the back of the train's un-seeable,
Because it's where we've been!

(In response to a frightening YouTube phenomenon.)

They ask this question on YouTube
And people wonder why?
Why do they still do it
When some answers make them cry?
Pubescent girls who're 'average',
With looks that aren't the best!
Why do they think to degrade themselves
With such a hateful test?
Some of the answers are cruel,
Some from boys who pretend to cringe,
And so the poor little person
Feels herself more on the fringe.
Is it a form of self-harm?
Does self-loathing have a role?
And how does she feel when she's been 'exposed'?
Surely it takes a toll.
Seventy years ago, my dears,
I think I'd have done the same!
My looks were a source of pain to me,
And also a source of shame.
My mother was very attractive.....
Deep dimples and curly hair.
I was plain and I wore glasses;
I felt life wasn't fair.
I remember in vivid detail
How I viewed myself.
For I lived through an era
When a girl 'left on the shelf'
Was utterly, utterly worthless;
Subjected to cruel stares;
'Look at her! She's single!
No wonder no-one cares.'
Had I lived in the YouTube era
I think I'd have shown my face
Up there for everyone to see
And witness my disgrace.
Exhibitionism? No, not really;
I knew I didn't 'belong'
But I was filled with the vain hope
That 'someone' might come along
Who didn't find me repulsive,
But thought my looks were fine;
I'd have hoped for a nerd in cyberspace
Whose need was  as great as mine.
The face of Elizabeth Taylor
Haunted me long ago,
And the screen's still full of beauties
Who have that certain glow.
There are heart-shaped faces, and white teeth,
Flawless complexions too;
Tiny cute little noses, 
Almond eyes of blue!
Every one of them despising
The great big mass of 'the rest',
With their bulbous noses and small eyes
Growing more and more distressed.
But the French had a description.....
'Jolie laide' was the phrase;
That means 'ugly/pretty';
A comfort in many ways.
I knew I could never attain it;
I lacked that Gallic style.
But I knew I wasn't repulsive
And I had a cheerful smile.
I longed for appreciation
In just one person's eyes.
So I'd have gone on YouTube,
Even knowing it was unwise.
Poor little teenage creatures;
You have my sympathy.
I promise you that, one day,
You'll be a Granny like me.
From 'The Talk' New York Times
"........... the innately undemocratic and capricious reality of those who are born with great looks. It explains the whole unjust gift-of-the-gods quality of beauty (which continues to pertain even in these cosmetically altered times), the sudden swoop of good fortune that lands on those who happen to be so graced. It explains why Sophia Loren was plucked out of a squalid town on the bay of Naples, where she might have ended up as just another overworked, prematurely aged housewife, and why, decades later, Gisele Bundchen hit the catwalk instead of languishing in Brazilian anonymity.

 I later discovered that no less an authority than F. Scott Fitzgerald, who studied the laws of female comeliness the way others study the laws of physics, agreed with my grandmother regarding the inherent banality of the merely pretty: "After a certain degree of prettiness," he wrote, "one pretty girl is as pretty as another."

Then there are the French, whose women have always known how to play up their assets - as though the ability to tie a scarf with a flourish worthy of Matisse has been grafted into their genes - and who have always been enamored of stylistic nuance. Leave it to them to introduce a concept of feminine beauty so pure in its abstraction as to defy all logic. I am referring to the term "jolie laide," which translates literally into the clunking phrase "pretty-ugly," but which connotes something more lyrical, even transcendent."


Kat said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder..!!! I think all girls are pretty :-)))

Shamsud Ahmed said...

This is a fine write. I am reading you for the first time and i think i will continue visiting now. I am a published Poet but i look for inspiration and learning in the web. This would definitley be one of my place. Thank you for sharing. I will be grateful if you can review few of my poems too.