when I was growing up I was the "smart sister" and Emily was the "pretty princess", ask anyone. I was bossy and a know it all with a squeaky voice and crazy curly hair (think Hermione, pre-basilisk). I wasn't nearly as adorable as little Emily traipsing around in her tutus giving impromptu shows, in the words of my brother Kris "you look like a tree when you try to dance" Aren't brothers the best?
But seriously, when I got old enough to start voicing my opinions (and trust me I had plenty of them...) I did and because of that I was treated as such. While my sister was being chased by all the boys, I was reading books and staring my very first business (think Babysitter's Club, it was short lived). I fought for girls to play football with the boys at recess (bad idea) and was pretty inept when it came to fashion.
Do we choose between brains and looks or does society? Is it even something a person needs to choose between?
When I came to college I was determined to change my image. I died my hair blonde, saved up and bought 'cute' clothes (before this I had started wearing things that were actually in style but frilly, cute, lacey, and accessories were all foreign ideas to me) much to the excitement of my roommate Andrea. We had fun, guys paid attention to me and I spent far less time doing homework. But, I would go on a date with a guy and after the first twenty minutes when he discovered that I was after a Master's degree there would be an awkward silence... I had a lot of first dates. The only guy I seriously dated freshman year (who just happens to be my husband) was the one who knew me back when I was fourteen, awkward and opinionated.
I didn't get it. Maybe I still don't, but somewhere I found a balance between knowing things and knowing when to voice my opinion, spending time studying AND spending time getting ready instead of one or the other. There are still plenty of guys who don't like me or my opinions and there are girls who give me dirty looks when I dare show up to class in basketball shorts and a t-shirt.
But, there is my husband who listens to my opinions and will argue ideas with me. He compliments me on my looks and tells me how proud he is of what I am accomplishing with my life. And then there my friends who will allow the grunge but still squeal with me over a cute top.
I don't think it has to be a choice, but I do think there is a healthy balance. Will I ever discover the cure for cancer? Probably not.
But I am smart enough to understand I don't want to downplay what I know in order to up play what I look like. Someday when I have girls, I hope I can convey that to them as well.