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The Best Looking Woman

The Best Looking Woman

I’m thinking about good looks.  I mean what is good looking? What looks good to whom?  How do we know when we look good?  Who do we look good to?

Maybe this is on my mind because Elizabeth Taylor died and she was considered one of the best looking women in movies.  Even I thought so.  But she probably didn’t look good to everybody.  And when we say ‘look’ it really isn’t only about the visual.  I can think of several Hollywood stars I think are good looking but when I’m looking that’s not the only thing I’m doing.

No, ET wasn’t my type at all (hard to find butch stars in Hollywood) but that slightly overripe quality of her body was appealing and that she looked so exquisitely elegant then opened her mouth and sounded like a fishmonger…that was attractive…to me.

Which is funny because I, like most girls I know, grew up always feeling too fat.  I was forever trying to tuck it in, tighten it or diet it away.  At 20 I remember buying my favorite pair of corduroy jeans that were striped in varying shades of brown and gold.  They were skin tight and I could barely sit in them.  There was a moment…maybe 6 months when I thought I was good looking…when I was wearing those jeans.  Then I gained some more weight and they didn’t fit any longer.

I never thought ET was too heavy, or any of the movie stars from the 1940s who danced across those musical stages with thighs that looked real.  I found them all appealing.  But I couldn’t see myself in them.

And skin and hair…where to begin with that…too dark…not straight…let’s not even go there.

My family never said there was anything wrong with me, in fact the women in my home were uncommonly happy with how they looked…or at least they seemed so to me.  It must have all come from outside…media…teachers…books.  It seeped into my head through the transistor radio I kept under my pillow.  When I look back at pictures of myself at 20 I can see clearly:  I wasn’t fat at all.  I was normal sized, like Elizabeth Taylor, or Oprah when she’s not dieting, or Kathleen Turner, or a bunch of other women who were all told they were fat.

And who says fat isn’t good looking?  Jackie Gleason was fat and good looking.  Sinbad is fat and good looking. What is good looking?

I think it’s something that comes from inside and shines through to the outside and if you think it’s you it is.  I used to believe I couldn’t wear hats…I was too short.  Then I moved to California and Diane said try one on.  I looked at myself from another perspective and believed I looked good.  And I do.  And now I own more hats than the local hat store.

I don’t know if it really matters how good we look except to ourselves. Then everything else falls into place.

Jewelle Gomez is the author of 7 books including the lesbian vampire classic novel, The Gilda Stories.  Her new play about James Baldwin will be produced in September 2011. Follow her on Twitter: VampyreVamp.  Or her website: www.jewellegomez.com

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2 comments

  • Kim Reed says:

    My favorite Liz Taylor scenes include Cleopatra’s bisexual shocker. Rex Harrison playing Ceasar is spying on Cleopatra and his aid informs him that she is famous for her sexual appetites that include men and women. He orders servants to go and announce he is coming. Cleopatra is informed and tells her girls, Let’s give him a good show. When Ceasar arrives, Cleopatra is reclining on a divan being attended by several buxom female slaves who appear to have been giving her a nice body rub, and Taylor just looks at Harrison with sultry contempt. He’s next. These scenes escaped the censorship and the film is still popular with Christians around Easter. They must have been blinded by all the gold paint and mountain size sets. Oh Liz!

  • Janae says:

    Hey, that post laeevs me feeling foolish. Kudos to you!