Reverb10 – Day 8 – Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different.

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

(Author: Karen Walrond)

My first response to this prompt was to be sardonic.  (“I’m a rugged, Indoorsy person.  I scale Laundry Mountain in my Fleecy Activewear…“)

When I was in Grade 11, my drama teacher asked us to come up with short sketch that displayed the essence of who we were. I got sardonic then, too. My sketch sold Arwen Perfume… the essence of Arwen being peppermint, musk, and ambergris: toothpaste, deer hormones, and whale barf. I don’t remember how far I pushed it, because I may have been a cynic but I was also a wuss.

Later, when I was in my twenties, my roommate and I had an ad, featuring Northern Exposure’s Chris-in-the-Morning (John Corbett), hanging inside our medicine cabinet.  Although we both had wee crushes on Corbett, I think my/our real love of the ad was its bizarre ad copy:

“It’s the defiance that defines. For individuals, it always starts at the GAP.”

Funniest. Ad Campaign. Ever.

What we couldn’t figure out was whether the GAP was *trying* for irony, or whether this pitch to defiant individuality bought at their store was, in some way, earnest.

Yet our mockery was ironic, because clearly there WAS a uniform for subcultures, and it was purchased. Here was mine: Black everything! Army surplus parade boots for the poor, Doc Martens for the slightly less poor! Silver jewelry! Smokes! Done. It arose out of necessity, but became a uniform. Which made the ad’s irony, if intentional, also deeply  cynical.

In the end, there’s no person who’s not coding something. You cannot step away from projecting an image, even if it’s comfort above style, and there’s nothing, really, new out there. Difference is situational. Sometimes an illusion, to comfort ourselves.


To be beautifully different I would rather be uncommonly gorgeous than uncommonly prone to crapping my pants. I’d rather be Kafka-creative buggy than to be committed for thinking the CIA is bugging my phone. So there’s a relative value to difference, and those values are in part societal, which to me suggests conformity. An agreed upon goal. So it’s not really different at all, is it?

So how am I differently beautiful?

Fucked if I know. It’s a question at the intersection of Social Critique St. and Insecurity Ave.

There’s an important question in self there – who am I, where am I going, what do I like about me? But there’s society there – who should I be, where should I be going, what will other people like about me?

I know I’m different in that I research the living shit out of systems until I have the whole big structure down pat and then forget all the details.  I’m different in that I think a lot about things like societal codes. I’m different in that I’m contradictory: I prefer to get just the facts and  ignore any other philosopher’s synthesis, but once I’ve come up with a synthesis, am happy to forget the facts. I like my own unabashed big picture. This makes me too ignorant to argue but too informed to float through while taking-for-granted.

Are these things beautiful?

They don’t appear to hurt anyone and they keep me busy.

I’m different in that I’m balanced on a sharp point between rationalism and mysticism. With my woo-woo (tribe/friends/society) I’m the skeptic and with my skeptical (tribe/friends/society) I’m the flake.

I’m different in that I’m plus sized and an adrenaline/exercise junkie. Before I was plus sized, this trait wasn’t a “difference”, and now it is. So it’s only vs. societal expectation.

I’m different in that I’d prefer to skip the small talk and go straight to The Big Things, including all those things other people don’t like to talk about. Sex, religion, politics, death? I’m in like Flynn.

Am I otherwise very different? I’m don’t know. Are these differences beautiful? What does that mean? That I appreciate me for them? That others appreciate me for them?

Whichever, these are the only differences I really notice, and they’re the things that give me resistance and occasional discomfort because I’m swimming upstream.  They make me different. Sometimes, they make me interesting, to me.

Other than that, you’d have to ask around.


  1. Now, see, you are rather transparently allergic to the word beautiful. I think the question was really asking “In what ways do you feel like a defective freak? In what ways is your defective freakishness also your SUPAH POWAH?” That strikes me as a much more sensible way of putting it. It’s all in the wording.

  2. Same post, tho’. Crapping one’s pants is rarely the better Super Powah option. … ETA: I don’t think my problem is at all with beautiful, but with “special” or “different”, in whatever form.

  3. “They don’t appear to hurt anyone and they keep me busy.”


    My head hurts from trying to puzzle this prompt out. I feel like there’s a point I’m meant to be getting but I’m not getting it. Or maybe I’ve always had the point and so trying to make it more pointed is fruitless.

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