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What is it like to be a fox?
August 7, 2007 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I would like to read some literate, accurate portraits of what it's like to be an attractive person in present U.S. or European society.

To do so, I thought I'd be best served to find novelists or other writers who are themselves attractive people, and read their work. Susan Minot? Kathryn Harrison? Sebastian Junger? Who else?

Or am I going about this wrong? Where can I find good accounts of how somebody who's recognizably attractive feels, what they think about, what it's like to be them?
posted by cgc373 to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
a. Oscar Wilde's only novel?
b. Truman Capote's thoughts? (Yes, Truman Capote!)
b. The posting history of Mefite #30053?
posted by rob511 at 4:57 PM on August 7, 2007


appropriately enough, considering, the last entry above should be "c."
posted by rob511 at 4:58 PM on August 7, 2007


I remember Naomi Wolf talking about this a fair bit in Promiscuities. I'd imagine in The Beauty Myth too, but I don't remember it well.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:15 PM on August 7, 2007


The absent "c" is kind of funny, rob511, but I'm really looking for people from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and Ms. Hilton probably isn't much for literacy or accuracy, however closely she fits the timeline.
posted by cgc373 at 5:17 PM on August 7, 2007


Do a search on "The Beauty Trip" by Ken Siman. Also, I once saw a news story about a "too beautiful club" in California (where else). My guess - life is about the same, with a little more preferential treatment and unwanted attention thrown in.
posted by AppleSeed at 5:26 PM on August 7, 2007


Stacked?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:34 PM on August 7, 2007


Bret Easton Ellis seems appropriate here.
posted by rhizome at 5:37 PM on August 7, 2007


there was an issue of the new york times magazine a few months back about comedy. paul rudd, i believe, wrote a small piece about the challenges of being good looking and being funny. it was a short piece, but funny enough. maybe someone else can remember more specifics.
posted by prophetsearcher at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2007


Thanks, AppleSeed, for the rec, but The Beauty Trip is written by somebody who's experienced being unattractive, and whom beauty thus fascinates. An interesting perspective, but I want to read about people who write about their own attractiveness, about what it's like from their perspective. I can find a lot of stuff about beauty, about regarding beauty, and also a lot of stuff about celebrity, but I want autobiographical accounts of what it's like to be beautiful, by people who can really write, who can really describe their experience.
posted by cgc373 at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2007


Ooh, I just remembered the journal of model Elyse Sewell, which is smart and funny and worth reading anyway, but should give you some insight.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:43 PM on August 7, 2007


I thought Mary Gaitskill's novel Veronica had an interesting (can't judge on accurate, sorry) depiction.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:44 PM on August 7, 2007


You might get more replies if you just asked for recommendations of narcissistic authors.
posted by rhizome at 5:44 PM on August 7, 2007


I would hazard that someone who's always been attractive wouldn't have a very good perspective. You want to hear from people who have been on both sides -- probably that means (for better or worse) someone who has lost a lot of weight. I've experienced this to some degree, and the difference is startling. People of the opposite sex smile at you a lot more. Work opportunities open up, as people can more easily imagine you in more senior roles. Generally, you are able to walk through the world feeling more like someone who makes things happen, rather than someone that things happen to.

This, of course, is purely the male perspective. I reckon there might be some nuance in the subject/object distinction of an attractive woman.
posted by TonyRobots at 5:49 PM on August 7, 2007


prophetsearcher, I read that Paul Rudd piece (it's in an article compiled by John Hodgman focused on comedy and comedians). Stacked looks like an account of what it's like to be objectified, which bears on what I'm trying to find out, so thanks, Ambrosia Voyeur.

Bret Easton Ellis? Why he, more than another, rhizome? His work puts me off at a distance, having read it only at third-hand and by way of movie adaptations (Less Than Zero but not American Psycho), but especially because of Teresa Nielsen Hayden's eviscerating review, collected in Making Book.
posted by cgc373 at 5:52 PM on August 7, 2007


crabintheocean, thanks for the reminder: I'd seen Sewell linked from here before, and it's a wonderful example of the perspective I wish I could find more of.
posted by cgc373 at 5:54 PM on August 7, 2007


I think that Chinese actress with the world's most popular blog might actually have what you're looking for. Unfortunately, it's in Chinese.
posted by ubu at 6:58 PM on August 7, 2007


Oh sorry, didn't see the part about US or European society.
posted by ubu at 7:00 PM on August 7, 2007


Augusten Burroughs talks a lot about being witty, clever, and good-looking in his various memoirs. It might put you off, because he has some of the same tone BEE does, but they're both from the same general region, and they're both men.
posted by headspace at 7:31 PM on August 7, 2007


Mistress Matisse blogs about her life -- including how much fun it is to be attractive (and get highly paid for sex work).
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:44 PM on August 7, 2007


There's a splendid passage in Muriel Spark's autobiography in which she talks about how lovely she and her friends felt as teenagers, how delighted they were by their own magnificence as they developed into women, and how sad it makes her to think that for various reasons so few girls feel like that nowadays, or at least at the time of writing.

Too early in the twentieth century to be quite what you're looking for, but still worth a look if you're interested in the subject.
posted by tangerine at 12:48 AM on August 8, 2007


Marisha Pessl, who wrote Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is quite striking. Give 'er a google.

Also, the novel Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan, is about a model whose face is destroyed in an accident and then reconstructed. It's a very weird book (which I like) and may have some of what you're looking for.
posted by apostrophe at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2007


Rhizome's absolutely right, the first half of Bret Easton Ellis' Glamorama sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for.
posted by saladin at 7:16 AM on August 8, 2007


Elizabeth Dewberry has a novel tellingly titled "His Lovely Wife".

Andrea Lee's "Interesting Women" might also fit the bill.
posted by of strange foe at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2007


How about Melissa C. Morris? She's not only attractive, she's also rich, smart, weirdly obsessed with preppy fashion, and a NYC socialite type. She doesn't write about her looks, though, just about her life.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2007


sometime in the mid-90s, dani shapiro wrote an autobiographical article for a women's magazine about being pretty. i believe the first line was, "i am pretty" or "since i was a baby, i have been pretty" or something like that.

if it helps source it at all, i'm pretty sure this came out before her first novel (because i remember there being a big pic of her face on jacket of the first book of hers i encountered, which is usually a first-novel kind of phenomenon, i think).

british author lucy grealy's as seen on tv has an interesting perspective on this topic, too. as a child, cancer of the jaw disfigured her face, eliciting stares and taunts.
but by her late teens / early twenties, she both grew into her face and developed an appealing figure, although she never felt attractive. her promiscuous period is documented in this book. i think the perspective of someone who switches teams, from "attractive" to "unattractive", to "attractive", is interesting.
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:54 AM on October 12, 2007


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