Questions I Have For Perfect-Looking Women


I was walking down a subway platform yesterday when this pale green dress jumped out in front of me – so tiny and smooth that it looked like the skin had been peeled off of a lima bean and pasted on to this woman’s body. She was wearing these black heels that were not just open-toed, but open-footed, if that’s a thing, and her curls were colorful and alive, both spring-like in texture and aesthetic. Like a unicorn sighting, it left me enchanted and bewildered.

Look, I’ve lived in New York my entire life. I know what people look like here… and I know what women look like here. There are several kinds of pretty going on—there’s picturesque women like the lima bean babe I just described, there’s women who bring to the table this fresh-faced cotton candy thing that only exists in their hometown, there’s foreign women from corners of the world that have unpronounceable names, and then there’s the women who look thrown together, natural and effortless, but thrown together.

I’m not consumed by looks. I don’t know what’s ‘in’ this season. I wear makeup (sometimes) and bangs in the colder months, I let my hair grow out and wear bare skin in the summer. I never remember to put on lotion, and if I run out of face wash, it takes a while for me to replace it. Most of my clothes are sloppily thrown on hangers, threatening to fall to the floor of the closet every time I look in their direction. I am, on the outside and definitely on the inside, thrown together.

So that’s the kind of beauty I understand. This is the kind of beauty I think most of my friends possess – they’re candid, their hair is hit or miss, it’s not common for them to wear cat eye makeup unless it’s October 31st. Most of them can manage in heels, some of them don’t bother. Plus, they’re my friends—I know what they think their problem areas are, I know what colors they think they don’t look good in, I know if wearing a 4-inch heel makes them homicidal. These questions are not for them.

These questions are for women like lima bean. Babe… you had not one wrinkle in that tiny dress. Were we riding the same train? Why do I always feel so wrinkly and how do I prevent it? Serious question.

To the girls who wear grey t-shirts, the girls who don’t sweat: I need your secrets. Is it Secret? I haven’t worn a grey t-shirt since I was pre-pubescent. Spill.

How come no one has peeling skin? I know we’re supposed to be careful out in the sun, but really, is no one getting accidentally sunburned anymore? No one’s even slightly discolored, a pale blotch in the shape of Lake Michigan where the tan’s disappeared? No one?

Do your bra straps ever show? Doesn’t seem like it.

What is it like to run in heels and not feel like you’re endangering yourself and any small children in the vicinity?

That shirt doesn’t look like it came out of the dryer tangled with a bra and a beach towel—explain what I’m doing wrong.

Does perfection bore you? Do you look at people like me and wish your hair would frizz a little, that your bra would peek out? Do you ever want to let your nail polish chip? Or is this, the coiffed hair, the ironed shirts; is this your version of happiness?

I have a nice life. I will not pretend that having every hair in place would make it better, make me better. The most beautiful people I know are beautiful because of the things they say, the things they do, and the things they believe. They are supermodels and Plain Janes and they’re all equally fascinating and warm.

I don’t want these questions answered so that I, too, can present a flawless face to the world. These are things I genuinely don’t understand, but want to. Because when I see another woman, I don’t want to look at her like a unicorn. She’s not a unicorn—she’s a person with feelings and goals and most importantly, issues. Like me. I want to look at her like my peer—one who hates heels as much as I do, one whose bra strap isn’t showing because screw it, she’s not wearing a bra—not some question mark of a person who’s only as deep as the thin, expertly-applied layer of foundation on her face.

So seriously—how many of your unborn children did you sell on the black market to master that top knot? Inquiring minds want to know. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Nicole

    This is my first time ever commenting on thoughtcatalog but I just had to.
    This was beautifully written and you have a very charming way with words! I share the exact same thoughts as you do.
    Spill the beans, lima bean.

  • Maibelle Calites


  • Samie Rose

    You accidentally said “lime bean” instead of “lima bean” in the second paragraph, just a FYI.

    Seriously, Stephanie. I am mind blowingly enamored by everything you write. Love this.

  • Maibelle Calites

    I look at those people and asked myself the same question. But then, in the end of the day.. its who you are that matters, r? Not the clothes you wear or how many tons of make-up your face can hold. Love the post!

  • heh

    it’s pretty easy, actually

    • Guest

      as if you are one of these people

  • Mary

    I’m pretty sure they just don’t watch any TV. Then there is a lot of time to like, iron and stuff.

    • sandra

      just had urge to RT this comment

  • Mary

    I’m pretty sure they just don’t watch any TV. Then there is a lot of time to like, iron and stuff.

  • Michael Koh

    “lime bean”

  • Ani Reina

    I hear you on the wrinkles. How do these women walk around the city and ride crowded trains? I don’t get it! Do people see their stunning aura and not touch them?

    • Anonymous

      My only question is about the girls who take long subway rides in very short skirts and high heels. How can they bear to sit their bare asses on the nasty seats?

    • Anonymous

      My only question is about the girls who take long subway rides in very short skirts and high heels. How can they bear to sit their bare asses on the nasty seats?

  • Kelly Dee

    this is one of those articles I really like it because it is not hostile or callous and I genuinely relate to your desire to know HOW other girls seem to be so perfectly put-together. (I don’t want to be. I just want to know if it’s natural or effortful or what)

    • Guest

      Totally. This could easily have devolved into a value judgement on those ‘perfect’ women based on the time she estimates they spend getting ready, superficiality ect ect

    • Sad Guest

      just a hint..just because it looks natural doesn’t mean it is. 

    • cait

      I live in Chicago and also spot those women who look flawless in heels and perfect business cas dresses in triple-digit weather, while I’m sweating from my messy pony to my $3 flip flops. But I can’t help feeling that wanting to know their beauty secrets or emulate their ‘skills’ will only take away from my natural confidence (ps beauty is 98% confidence) and lower my self esteem. Women need to stop comparing themselves to each other and focus on feeling satisfied and positive about their own looks/style/personality. Accept that while we look different, we don’t have to feel inferior.

  • MBa

    Very soothing to know that I am not the only one with the grey shirt/tank top conundrum. 

    • Kristina

      I don’t understand why grey is such a problematic color.  Enlighten me, please?

      • Demosthenes1013

        I’m guessing arm pit sweat.  But hey, my favorite shirt is a gray WYWH that’s faded to hell, so what do I care?

  • LeTronique

    I know what you mean! I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria (by way of Brooklyn, New York) and I wonder how no other guy sweats when it’s hot out or how their outfits seem to be perfectly unwrinkled. How their hair seems to be perfectly intact or how their skin seems to be flawless. I guess it takes work?

  • RebekahMeinecke

    I was JUST THINKING of this the other day. It seems no matter how hard I try there’s always something “off.” I am the queen of wrinkles.

    I also have the natural “thrown together look” and I try to make it as effortless looking as possible. I am baffled. Seriously, lima bean, PLEASE comment. I’m dying to know the secrets.

  • RebekahMeinecke

    Oh, I forgot. There is one thing I can help you out with, I don’t really sweat. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is. It has nothing to do with the type or brand of deodorant.

  • AJ

    Right on Miss G. You’re the bestest writer here, keep it coming.

  • David Trahan

    This is fabulous. 

  • Chels

    we are all lima beans in our own way, find yours. 

  • Alexandrea

    It takes me almost an an hour and a half to look attractive, and even by then, it’s attractiveness at the decent, presentable level and not vavavoom level. I go out feeling good about myself in my high heels and dress (which will wrinkle as soon as I sit down) until bam, I come across a gorgeous woman who looks effortlessly put together but still drop dead gorgeous. She can get away with little makeup. Her hair is in a messy (yet somehow sexy ponytail, her feet in ballet flats, her legs in dark skinny jeans and her torso in a plain white tight shirt accented by a huge necklace. And  don’t understand how she does it, because it looks like she just got out of bed and grabbed the first thing she could wear, and yet still look much more beautiful than I can ever hope for.

    • J. Ky Marsh

      You’re trying too hard. I think a huge part of the “problem” presented in this article comes back to the disconnect between what women THINK is attractive and what other people (men, whomever) see as attractive.

      I’d prefer a girl in skinny jeans and a plain t-shirt any day of the week. This is regardless of the female in question. High heels and a dress are not appealing to me. Wearing a comfortable, casual outfit is more attractive to me not only because the style itself is more relatable, but because of the image it portrays of the female and her personality.

      Women seem to have a very hard time grasping this.

      • Anonymous

        Or people just actually find different things attractive, especially fashion wise.

      • Anonymous

        Or people just actually find different things attractive, especially fashion wise.

      • J. Ky Marsh

        No, that’s definitely not it.

      • Alexandrea

        But the thing is, some women look like crap in plain tees,  jeans, flats and ponytails, which is why I can relate to the article. How do the effortlessly put-together women do it? Tie their hair in an ‘untidy’ bun but still look incredibly sexy. Or just wear jeans and shirt yet still look like a boss/goddess. Not wear any make-up and still look radiant and fresh. But the answer is obvious, isn’t it? In the end, it all boils down to whether you have the prerequisite beauty to pull that off. If you’re beautiful to begin with, you can still wear a burlap sack and still look hot. Some women who aren’t that pretty need to exert a little bit of effort and find the things that highlight what we have. A skirt makes me look more stylish and closer to my age, while jeans and a shirt can get me carded or be taken as a kid, for example. And because of that, I’m more comfortable in a skirt and pair of heels because I know I can rock them. Just sayin’ it like it is.

        Men seem to have a very hard time grasping this.

      • Sad Guest

        i think the problem here is not you at all. it is the media. it influences everyone idea of what an “attractive” female is. people that pay more attention to the media will probably tend to think that heels and dressier clothes are more attractive because women wear heels and dressier clothes in advertisements and what not.

      • Nivs

        You are on the money with this. I have had so many guys tell me they prefer a girl in a pair of converse kicks than 4 inch stilettos.  

      • Sad Guest

        i mostly agree with this, but some guys like skinny legs and heels tend to create that..

      • Sad Guest

        i mostly agree with this, but some guys like skinny legs and heels tend to create that..

    • Sad Guest

      i feel your pain. just a little tip.. (in case you didn’t know this already, because i didn’t and it makes a HUGE difference..)  you don’t need to wear much makeup as long as it’s high quality makeup. an expensive high end foundation, good eyeliner and good mascara will go far and still make most  people look like they’re wearing very little makeup. women that look good with very little makeup are usually just wearing expensive makeup that blends well.

  • Muertecaramelo

    ” if I run out of face wash, it takes a while for me to replace it.”

    I shivered with this sentence. I guess I’m one of those who try really hard to be limabeanish.

    • oops

      me too. i keep doubles of all my beauty-related items so i never run out.

      • Muertecaramelo

        Thing is, I’ve never ever thought about how much *work* I put into beauty related issues. It’s who I am, a different kind of bean I guess. Beans, aren’t we all?

      • Matthew

        What’s face wash?

  • Host

    I keep feeling like whoever wrote the Burden of Beauty article a while back is going to be offended by this. 

  • Kaya

    You write with such poise and togetherness as the demeanor of the “perfect looking women” that you observe :) That is something to be proud of.

    As a commuting student, I too pause and wonder how some women can look so picturesque, as if having just stepped out the pages of Elle or Vogue. It is even more intriguing how they juxtapose the surrounding scene, drawing all eyes towards them. This is especially observable on a hot midsummer afternoon when it seems most everyone else has given up on the fabric crinkles, matted hair, and incessant beads of sweat forming on their foreheads. 
    Surely, the seemingly fascinating creature one briefly catches a glimpse of on the subway is aware of the effect she has on those around her. She walks with a rhythmic sway and emits this sanguine energy you would expect of someone who looks so unblemished. The thing is, you happened to catch her in a *state* of perfection. This is impossible to attain at all times, and when attempted, takes just as much time as energy. She likely woke up two hours before she was supposed to show to her destination and skipped out on breakfast that morning to curl her hair and apply her “face” to precision. Throughout the day she disappeared into a restroom to ensure she didn’t  “unravel” or “melt”.  If you asked her for a bobby pin or blotting sheets, she’d hand them to you sympathetically…because she’s really just a human on a good day. 

    • Nicolette

      For every woman you think appears to have it together, know there has been/will be/is someone looking at you with the same regard. I feel like a hot mess 99% of the time, yet have heard myself described on occasion as being poised or picturesque – which seems ridiculous to me. I think the perfection exhibited in some is simply their response to/defense against their own self-perceived imperfections.

  • Maxwell Chance

    I like my women like I like my coffee: breezy, light, imperfect, comfortable and carefree. 

  • Kyle Angeletti

    Well done. Good read. 

  • NoSexCity

    If you get the answers to any/all of these questions and don’t share, I’m burning you at the stake. Just a head’s up.

  • Anonymous

    This was really enjoyable and relatable. Loved it.

    With the deodorant thing, I was never able to find a woman’s deodorant that helped prevent sweat marks but now I use old spice and I never ever have to worry about them.

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