My parents split up when I was nine. A tender age where everything is up in the air anyway, from your laugh, to your smile to the way you walk in the world. A very pliable age.
It wasn’t long before my Dad starting looking around for women to date. All kids want is for their parents to be happy. My brother and I watched as Dad would ogle women in the grocery store, say certain things and join social groups to be around more possibilities. Before the divorce, I hadn’t thought much about attraction, dating and how people actually got together. You have your Mom and you have your Dad, and they walk around the house and feed you.
It was back in the 80’s. The internet was just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. The only way to meet people was at work, church, through friends or by writing a personal ad in the Willamette Week newspaper. We did not attend church, so Dad wrote an ad. I remember when the letters came pouring in. Dad sat with me on the couch and showed them to me. All interested women responding to his classified.
It is here where the damage began. He would shuffle through the letters; the ones with the photos were kept the others thrown away. Then the next tier of decision making began. I am sure he did read the letters as a stroke of his ego; however the next cut would be made by looks. “She’s pretty, we will keep her.” It went on and on. He started to date, and meet these women. Sometimes, if he liked them very much they would come and meet us.
A pattern soon emerged. Blondes. Tall blondes, that were thin. It was his preference. Mom had been blonde when they got together, bleached hair like straw, but blonde. In good shape from tennis.
I came along after a number of years. Dark, dark brunette hair, blue eyes that turned to hazel. Actually I have the coloring of my Dad. My Mom thought I was beautiful, she loved the contrast of my pale skin and dark hair, “My Snow White,” she said. Your Mom is supposed to tell you that you hung the moon, so I put it aside as just another reference point.
Dad’s years of chasing blondes wore on me to where I could not even look at blonde women without feeling inferior. Ugly. I had no blonde friends, as I instantly felt like the ugly stepsister of the group. I was also petite, so the vision of the tall blonde, blue eyed women was the polar opposite of what I was. And in his eyes that was beauty. No room for someone like me to be “Beautiful.”
I almost began to hate women like that, to avoid them at parties, as potential business partners, in any aspect of my life. Now, as I am diving headfirst into my “Shit” to alleviate my insecurities, expand my life and horizons and to rid myself of this little weight problem I have been dealing with for most of my life, I am dropping my baggage at the door.
I also needed to hit this one hard because, I have brought into the world as my second daughter a beautiful, blonde, lanky girl with blue eyes. The constant resentment does not fit with my love for my own daughter and how strong and alive and important I want her to be. She is a teenager now, fully grown into the tall-blond- blue-eyed perceived nemesis of my past. And I adore her.
I wonder how many other great women I have shoved aside because of this complex?
I get it. Everyone has personal preferences, the body, hair and personality types they are drawn to. This is in no way a message to beat up on my father. I love him. He loves me. The fact that he never told me I was beautiful is sad. If I were to ask, he would say that I am. But that isn’t what was portrayed when I was young and impressionable.
I offer this as only a thinking point. As a parent, I know when we know better, we do better. If I could share this with only one newly single Dad out there, it would be worth it. If my Dad knew this caused me pain he would be very remorseful. I have no need to tell him, no need to hurt him about it. If I could offer any advice it would be, tell your daughter she is beautiful. Fill her up with the knowledge that she is powerful, lovely, wanted and important. Don’t show your physical preferences to her and teach her that beauty only comes in one kind of package.
Truth is, my Dad has never found anybody because of his personal preferences, you would think even he, after 35 years would be more open to looking at the inside of people, and not just the outside. But to this day, my Dad prefers blondes. But, at least now, I know what to do with it.
Heidi is a middle aged searcher, watcher of people and circumstance. On a journey to figure out my shit and move on to the next big thing. Novelist in training with a lot to say. A lover of Love.
Featured image courtesy of jk+too.