There are certain things in life that are so ugly they’re beautiful, or so ugly they’re cute. (The French call it jolie laide; the Japanese, busakawa.) Think of bulldogs, bumpy noses — or Birkenstocks. This week, we’re celebrating the faces that only a mother could love. Welcome to Fugly Week on the Strategist.
I am ugliest when I’m most happy. I shudder just thinking about it. My smile distorts my nose, makes my lips disappear, and exaggerates the fact that I have no cheekbones whatsoever. My best moods also tend to take place outdoors, which means I’m wearing a topless straw hat more often than not. There are pictures to prove it.
The main advantage of a topless straw hat is that it enables the simultaneous accomplishment of two seemingly incompatible goals: wrinkle prevention and hair lightening. “And where are all the female geniuses?” they ask! Maybe they’re outside on their stoops at 2 p.m. in direct sunlight, drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, and responding to email on iPhone screens they can’t even really see.
I bought my hat at an outdoorsy store in Sun Valley, Idaho, before a daylong hike last summer, but they’re pretty easy to come by online, and shouldn’t set you back more than $20. You need to get one with a wide enough brim that it will shade your neck and at least sometimes your décolletage; luckily, thanks to the material, even the most generously proportioned ones are still lightweight and foldable.
Is the notional promise of future beauty (smooth skin, lemony highlights) really worth sacrificing my everyday dignity for? Shouldn’t I care more about looking good now, in the June of my 29th year, than in the September of my 30th? Or the whatever month of my 50th? My friends would — and do — say yes, but I don’t listen. I just tighten my topless straw hat and give them my most hideous grin.
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