#PrincessProblems: Navigating the Game of Pretty

Illustration: Veronica Grech

Illustration: Veronica Grech

You wake up in the morning in your La Perla and take a look at that beautiful body of yours. Stretching sideways, your negligee falls from your protruding hipbone exposing the soft arch of your ass. You check out your go lucky, 32 D’s—still there—life’s fucking good.

Hot and happy just go together. It’s an aesthetic kind of thing, like the color white and minimalism. Sometimes when you’re bored, maybe in an Uber, you repeat your favorite mantra, “hot happy hot happy hot happy.” It’s a fun tongue twister.

People ask you what you’ll do when time ravages your looks, like it’s some kind of foe. They say there’s nothing more tragic than a once-beautiful woman. A guy you dated in L.A. joked, “Every year after a woman turns 25, her market value exponentially depreciates.” You laughed because that was a funny joke. Well, luckily, a friend of a friend told you about new developments in youth-preserving stem cell research, and then there’s always the Facetune app as backup to bring about your best self.

Why aren’t you married to a man with a plane?” you’ve been asked. “Oh stop,” you deflected but thought, “I must be doing life wrong.” And then you pictured the type of man who might own a plane and all of the trips you’d have to take together and you got a bad headache, but that could have also been from dehydration.

An 80-year-old baron once advised, “Beauty is a gift and it’s a shame to squander it on an impoverished life.” As you mulled over his unsolicited advice you imagined it was akin to sewing perfectly good seeing eyes shut or watching a copious buffet rot. Something must be done! You’re supposed to want that house in the Hamptons (check), holidays in Anguilla, Harbour Island, Cap d’Antibes (check, check, check) and obviously private school (check). These are your money years, bitch. Use them wisely.

Why aren’t you married to a man with a plane?” you’ve been asked, and you thought, “I must be doing life wrong.” And then you pictured the type of man who might own a plane and all the trips you’d have to take together and you got a bad headache, but that could have also been from dehydration.

It’s nice to look so bangable when you try on clothes. Some people have said, “You’d even look good in a garbage bag,” and you’re like, “No.” You apologize for everything. But the best part of being so goddamn sexy is pairing those stellar stems with stilettos. Your buttocks is shocked into perfection, your lines sleek and your strut sublime. And if perchance, you feel sharp, insidious low back pain, you waddle, or if the bones of your feet complain like jerks, suck it up and flash that drop-dead smile.

Owning your own attractiveness is entirely uncouth. You must be your best receiver by allowing others to do it for you. Circumvent the obvious in a passive, surreptitious way by using imagery with few words. Post a lingerie selfie on Instagram and under it write a spiritual quote, or something inspired like, “Feeling Free,” or simply “Goodnight” with lots of emojis. You’ll be praised for your looks without seeming desperate. 

Men project their fantasies onto you. It’s great fun if you’re an actress, because then you get to play all kinds of varied, sustainable roles. Snow bunny in Gstaad…ooh la la or, Ivy League supermodel (Vassar was almost the sister school to Yale), or future Range Rover-driving soccer mom…you’ll ride the fuck out of that SUV.

It’s not to say life is without its challenges. Sometimes you have to make the hard choices, and as a Gemini, this isn’t your strength. For instance, picking the best bikini shot to post on social media can be overwhelming, but follow-through is so important. There’s nothing more depressing than flip-flopping filters—Mayfair, Rise or Valencia? It’s called taking a stance, and sometimes that means risking fewer likes.

Every once in a while though, before sharing a sizzling photo of your alluring pout, winsome tits and resplendent ass you feel a pang about the message you’re sending to young, impressionable girls. Yay, this is what you have to look forward to! But they’re not your responsibility. And if you think about it, aren’t you just celebrating that goddess temple of a bod of yours?

While decisions may be difficult, options are divine. Men circle around you like your very own halo, but you’ve gotten so good at barricading yourself it’s almost like you’ve forgotten how to let them in. You perfume your neck with Strangelove’s meltmyheart but let no man smell it. You brush your eyes smoky black but it’s for the pictures. Babe, stunner, knockout, bombshell, you have sexy knees—you snort it all up and then rub your teeth with what’s left. But one mishap—a shadow that punctuates the indentation under your eye or a repugnant fine line across your forehead—and hit delete.

You met a man who once had a personal dilemma: to sleep with a supermodel with herpes or pass her up. You asked him, “Did you like her?” And he said, “She was hot as fuck.” Well, he also turned to his doctor friend for advice, told him who she was, and the doctor insisted, “You’ve got to fuck her, even if for me. Just use protection.”

Well, you were just dying to know if he did. He shook his head. “It wasn’t worth it.” It seemed her human stain was far too great.

“And what about you?” he asked. “Do you have any diseases?”

You met another man recently who got through to you, but you weren’t much in the mood to be close. You said, “Let’s be friends.” He asked you to imagine what it’d be like to wake up in his arms. So you imagined. He was the kind of person you’d build worlds upon sentences with and only take breaks for food and sleep. 

Every once in a while, you feel a pang about the message you’re sending to young, impressionable girls. Yay, this is what you have to look forward to! But they’re not your responsibility.

He said when he walked into a room with you, men looked at him like he must be somebody important, and you thought, “So men get something from me after all.” And when he held you, you asked him, “Would you still want me if I had no legs?” He laughed and assured you it would take a lot more than that. And then you said, “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.” And he said, “Good to know.” And you thought, “Shit, I should really keep my cards close.” Then he disappeared so—it wasn’t meant to be.

Before you were such a dish, you were a figure skater. You didn’t like curves so you restricted food, which made you weak, which got you badly injured. At 16 you modeled because all the agencies were around, but still you longed to skate. You learned that beauty incited jealousy from women and lust from men, which was unfortunate. So you wore short shorts in the summertime because that seemed like the thing to do. You counted the almonds you were to eat and snacked on Jolly Ranchers.

Your tight little body was falling apart. The tendons in your hips were inflamed like someone had turned you inside out and shredded you. It was painful to lift your foxy legs and you were just a kid. Once, you sat next to an old woman on a park bench. You saw her haggard, slow arms and the way she hunched over, as if life was closing in, and thought, “We’re the same.” 

Hot happy hot happy hot happy. They just go together, like vanilla ice cream and warm apple pie, like a sweet cherry in a Manhattan, like pretty young things on yachts and old rich men in Saint-Tropez, and like your once-perfect mouthful of teeth and shameless grin. You see, just last week they colluded and stole your molar No. 3. It was a pearl of a tooth but infected at the root. They held you down and with a pull and a pop and crack they robbed you. Now you’ve got this hole, which they’ve promised to fill with a snap-in flipper until they make it right with porcelain. In the meantime, you’re practicing talking with your mouth closed and taking lots of tight-lipped selfies for the glory of Instagram.

You’ve had nightmares about your teeth falling out before, but you have this one insistent dream in a world where up is down and sideways is diagonal. Here you meet a beautiful woman. You’ve never seen such beauty, which is strange because you can’t make out her face. She is blurry and bright and so big. When she holds you, you have nothing to prove and no one to please. Her kindness softens your edges and you realize there’s no difference between beauty, radiance and grace because it all feels like love.

But then another day, and oh, how easily you forget. 

#PrincessProblems: Navigating the Game of Pretty