When the Ugly Duckling is Just a Duck

A couple of women in dance class today were talking about aging and how it was an adjustment when they no longer turned heads. Not a problem, they said. Just an adjustment.

SThese women are still lovely, and I can imagine they were real head-turners when they were young, but not everyone has that same experience. For some of us, the adjustment was not learning we no longer turned heads, but accepting the knowledge that we would never would turn heads.

The lure of the ugly duckling story looms large in girlhood. I suppose even the pretty girls long to be a swan, unable to see until — perhaps it was too late — that they’d been swans all along. (In the case of the two women in class today, they might in fact have been swans of the Swan Lake sort since both had studied ballet for many years.)

I’m long past the moment when I realized this ugly duckling would never be a swan, long past the days I wondered what it would feel like to be a head turner. There is something to be said (though I’m not sure what, hence this short post) for being an ugly duckling that grows up to be merely a duck. There is beauty in that, too.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)