Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Perfect 10

From the gymnastics world comes the news that we won't be seeing the perfect 10.0 score at the upcoming Olympics. The new scoring system has two sets of judges to separate degree of difficulty from execution.

Of course, when many people think of a perfect 10, Bo Derek comes to mind, but as I'm not generally a fan of blondes, cornrows or a look of sweet incomprehension, I'd disagree.

I do think it's entertaining that there's a rating system for people, most recently popularized by the unstoppable and addictive Hot or Not (I dare you to click the link and not rate the first person you see) which has garnered more than 12 billion votes since its founding eight years ago. The problem is that, just as in gymnastics, it's way more complicated.

I have never put myself up for public rating on a 1-10 scale, but I've always thought of my appearance in Playboy as some kind of validation - you figure they have two major photo features per month (plus a "girls of"), which adds up to approximately 1600 in the U.S. since the magazine's founding in 1953. That's a very tiny percentage of the female population, even discounting women who would never opt to pose, so being one of those 1600 means I'm probably in at least the top tenth ratings-wise.

The degree of difficulty and the execution are the key to looking good, as they are to gymnastic glory. When most of your clothes are off, there's only just so much that can be done if you're not in shape or your face doesn't have some appeal. Good lighting, lingerie choices and hair and makeup, as well as a photographer who can get your best angles, count for a lot.

But looking good on camera is also a matter of expression, of connecting with the lens, of being conscious of being the object of attention. That's the real execution.

For me, the degree of difficulty has been high. I was a geek from age 7 to around 17, with bad posture, a serious overbite, chipped teeth, ugly glasses and a frightened expression. Orthodonture (thanks, Mom and Dad) and contacts helped, but sheer determination did most of the rest, though my forebears also get the credit for the legs up to here and la belle poitrine out to there.

I like to think that I look good not only for my age but also for any age. Discipline in how I take care of myself is a major part of that, and a ready smile and an open approach to life handle the rest.

Then again, as Joe E. Brown said in Some Like It Hot, which is all about reinvention:

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