I’m someone who has never been particularly comfortable with my looks. I often describe myself as having a face roughly the shape of a potato and a mouth that was put on upside down at birth.
I’d sometimes heard as a boy that everyone is beautiful on the inside, but I wanted to be beautiful outside, where it might do me some good. I’d compare myself with, say, the captain of the high school football team, and feel a certain level of anxiety. I’d notice that he always seemed to be followed by an entourage of wide-eyed girls and I had to carry my own books home.
If I talked to anybody else about my feelings, they’d always just say something like, “Oh, you’re better looking than you think” or “You’re just at an awkward age.” So I waited, but by university the terrible truth was established beyond doubt: some people really are better-looking than others, and shockingly, I was down at the plain end.
It wasn’t a situation I much liked, but the world is as it is, not as I would like it to be. I thought again about the idea of people being beautiful on the inside. Could there be any truth to it? As, I looked around to take stock of my situation, I discovered with surprise that there were actually quite a number of girls who were vaguely interested in me. I’d never noticed they were there before because I was too busy waiting for actress Marilu Henner to call.
Some people have beauty that makes choirs of angels sing. Nobody wants to hear the advice that they should stop focusing on this tiny group, and pay more attention to that much larger number that are a bit more representative of standard human appearance. I certainly didn’t. To me, it sounded like I was being told, “You should settle.”
But it’s really not that simple. Ordinary-looking people have very little in common except being ordinary-looking. Some of them are funny some are awful. Some are kind, intelligent and thoughtful, and some wouldn’t recognize an original thought if it fell on their head from 18,000 feet. Nobody was suggesting flinging myself at the first person who‘d have me. I started looking around at women and seeing them for the first time. Not just what they looked like but what they were like.
I met a lot of great people, and then eventually I met someone who just seemed right. In the Hollywood version of my life, this person would be played by Marilu Henner, thus undercutting my central message. In fact, the role of wife went to a scrawny ragamuffin of a girl, but one with the wit, charm and intelligence to carry the part.
Then a funny thing happened – a phenomenon familiar to long-married couples around the world. As you live together, raise a family together, struggle through tough times together, the beauty of your partner begins to appear in his or her face. You begin to like all the bits you thought were imperfections before. They become charming, endearing. You start looking round at other women and noticing that they lack everything that makes a face look right. Eventually, you get to a point where you can’t imagine being with anybody else. Now comfortably into middle-age, I’m stuck to my wife now like a barnacle to a luxury liner, (her approximate dimensions these days). I’m happy to be with her and wouldn’t want to be with anybody else.
My advice to you is to look for a potato head, but not settle for the first one who shows interest. Look around for someone that you actually like – as a person and friend. Remember, if things work out, you’re going to be seeing a lot of him for the next fifty or sixty years. If you choose wisely, then little by little, his true character will reveal itself in his appearance and you’ll be happy you married him.