“You will never look better than you do right now.”
It was Broadway and West 106th Street in Manhattan, the summer of 1978, right after I graduated from college. As if the older gentleman who volunteered that comment snapped a photograph, I remember exactly what I was wearing: a sea-green Danskin leotard, an eggshell wraparound skirt, high-heeled cream sandals. Though he’d effectively passed a death sentence—it was all downhill from there—in that moment I felt beautiful.
Whatever I actually looked like, feeling beautiful is a subjective sensation you can’t argue with. Yet this fleeting thrill thrives on an audience. Sure, there’s a muted home-alone version, but feeling beautiful is largely a social experience—of wielding a small power, of having something that other people covet but that you couldn’t give away even if you wished to. It is a short-lived little crack high that I would argue we overrate.