I find myself very beautiful. I'm happy to find my own face pleasing in the reflection But I'm always surprised when other people find me beautiful, because I don't expect them to see what I see. I expect them to use the measuring stick that society has provided: long hair (preferably blond), symmetrical features, perfect nose, perfect teeth, pouty mouth, big breasts, small waist, smooth limbs, perfect posture, graceful movement, and many other ideals that I have never seen reflected from my mirror. I'm quite aware that I fall short in every category, that I am not the definition that a random man means when he pictures a "beautiful woman." So I've never considered myself as a beautiful woman, though I, myself, have always taken pleasure in my beauty. I rarely wear makeup, and never much. I like how I look. I always smile when I meet my own eyes.
When someone else finds me beautiful, I am taken aback, as though they've caught me naked. They've seen me, when I didn't mean to be seen. They've recognized my beauty when I thought the cloaks and filters of social expectation had me shielded. I fear my beauty being recognized.
Humans have a strange relationship with beauty. They crave to set eyes on it, to feel it through senses, as a key component of happiness. Somehow, people start to feel owed the beauty around them as a way of filling other gaping holes, and that includes beautiful women. If I am a beautiful woman, people will want something from me that they otherwise would leave alone, if they found me plain. They will expect me to be ways that I am not, to comply with behaviour that I don't like, to play out the role they envision for me. All that expectation will clang loudly in my ears, drowning out my own voice, and I will become something ugly inside. That is my spin-story of what it means if I am a beautiful woman. That is the root of fear that gets triggered when someone notices what I know, and realizes I am beautiful.
I duck away shyly. I can barely meet their gaze. It's like they've found out my secret and I'm not sure I trust them to keep it.