How Do You Know If You're Pretty?
I didn't like my hair (very fine like my mother's), or my eyes (too deeply set and almond shaped, in standard-issue brown), or my nose (not cute enough), or my mouth (a bit too wide). Then there were my hips (not high or round enough) and my breasts (set too widely apart on my torso). But there were things I did like: my shoulders (square and broad), my back (shaped like an inverted triangle), and my waistline (super small). I also liked my skin (olive and fine-pored), my hands and feet (delicate and well-formed), and my teeth (super white, and I had my mother's smile). My cheekbones (prominent like Kate Hepburn's), my ears (small), and my proportions (svelte after years of ballet) were pretty damned good.
Looking around for confirmation, I wasn't able to spot anyone similar to my type whom I could gauge myself by. I judged myself "passable." Fortunately, any lack of confidence I had about my physical ap¬peal wasn't shared by the opposite sex. They were not nearly as critical as I was. This became obvious from the way they stared at me when I got off the bus and walked down the street to my dance class. It was rather uncomfortable . . . but intoxicating.
Some guys would just gawk or drive around the block for a second look. But others would yell a lewd remark, make suggestive ges¬tures and urge me to get in their car! It made me feel very exposed and vulnerable. "Go away!" was all I could think of to say; that, and zap them with an icy stare. After an awkward initiation period, I became accustomed and even immune to unwanted male attention. I was also flattered by the glances from other young girls who were sizing up the competition.
I didn't consider myself pretty, mainly because I didn't fit into the mold of the blonde, blue-eyed ideal. But who was I to argue? I rather liked being admired. At the same time, all the attention was distracting and interfered with the way I wanted to think of myself—as an intelli¬gent girl with artistic leanings.
I enrolled in La Jolla High School, which was only three blocks away from the famous Windansea surfing beach! From the high school's sec¬ond-story windows, my classmates could check out the coastline to see if the surf was up. Despite this siren call of the sea, once I enrolled as a freshman, I threw myself into my studies and managed to become an A student. Mr. Rosney, my all-time favorite teacher, taught American government, my best subject. I was keenly interested in Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight against racism and segregation. When it came to homework, I wasn't a fast reader, so I often had to work very late into the night to finish my assignments, sometimes until 3 AM. That didn't really bother me. I loved getting a handle on sociopolitical subjects. Whatever it took, I was ready to put forth the effort.
By now I had new idols. My parents didn't allow any movie fan magazines at our house. They were considered trash. But my best friend, Kitty Pemberton, had stacks of forbidden tabloids piled high all over her bedroom floor. We spent many an afternoon glued to the pages of those "rags." I pored over photos and stories about stars like Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh and couldn't get enough of James Dean, Na¬talie Wood, Jayne Mansfield, and Marilyn Monroe, as well as tons of starlets and teen idols.