“Draw Winky”

What were your ideas of beauty in your 20s?

It had nothing to do with wearing make-up (like my sister). I dressed really poorly. I wore a lot of jeans. I never cared to dress up, put make-up on, or do my hair. My hair was long. I braided it or pulled it back in one ponytail.  I didn’t care about looking beautiful because I didn’t care about what guys thought. If a guy worried about looks, let him worry about looks with somebody else.

In high school in the late 60s and early 70s, the style was wearing platform shoes, but pants had to drag. I was so tall that when I wore platform shoes, my pants wouldn’t drag, unless I made them. I would start buying them with cuffs and start letting them out as far as I could. By the time I finally got it all figured out, it was out of fashion. Oh well. (laughs) There were hip-huggers but I don’t have hips so I never worried about them.

I remember in high school, one of the girls wore a little t-shirt and leggings to school. Back then I thought, Wow, she’s fat. I look at the picture now and think, Not really. She doesn’t look that bad. Lots of women walk around like that. I’d never been heavy until after I got married and had kids.

All through high school I wore pants or dresses with pants underneath or knee socks. It was or wasn’t the style, but I had a skin condition and had to cover my skin. I had a boyfriend for 2 years, but it wasn’t because of anything I wore. We just got along.

What are your ideas of beauty or image now?

At my age, I wear a little bit of make-up and I’ve got to do a little something with the hair. I’ve seen women in t-shirts and jeans that look better than others (in the same). But I think it’s just a little of everything. My church talks a lot about your personality and your attitude. The guy that I’m seeing says, “You’re interesting to talk to. I wanted to get to know you more, to find out about you.” Now that we’re serious, I asked him, “Have I changed any since 2 months ago?” He said, “No, you’re still interesting.” We both have a lot in common.

Some guys like the girls that act flirty and all that, but some guys don’t like a woman who’s loud and needs attention. And ever since my boyfriend and I started being serious, all the other guys at church, well, I wouldn’t say they’re coming on to me, but they’re all talking more.

Is there a change in how you think about beauty?

A lot of it has to do with the way I act. I grew up in Alaska and the (mainland) US as a military brat. It’s hard because you don’t get to know that many people. You know them for a year and then you have to leave. My father didn’t encourage us or my mother to make friends. He said people  just wanted to see what we had. So he wouldn’t allow anyone to come over or let me go anywhere. My exciting day was going to school, coming home to do my homework, helping the other kids, and starting dinner. Mom would come home. Dinner would be half done, so she’d finish it and we’d eat. We cleared up and did the dishes, and then Dad said, “Well, do what you want.” And it was like whoopie. I never went to movies as a kid. I never did anything.

My parents paid for me to take an art school advertised on TV – the “Draw Me” Winky. I took it for 3 years but didn’t finish it. My father threatened to disown me if I went to college. He said a woman needed no more education than high school because she would get married and a man would take care of her.

When I was young, I was a real crier. I still cry at the drop of a hat. I’m really sensitive. But back then, I couldn’t talk to people. I was really shy. Now if I was in school, I’d be on the debating team. I could stand in the front of the room with a whole bunch of people and talk, whereas when I was 20, I didn’t have any confidence. I don’t know what it was. I got nervous that I would say something wrong. The beauty part has changed a lot. I kind of wish back then I would’ve taken more pride in how I looked.

Susan, 56

Ohio

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