It takes a big ego to say aloud: I'm good-looking. Only in our privacy dare we hold such a view. Especially if it isn't true.
Post-diet, on optimistic days I used to toy with "bare" and "lined", imagining myself as Lee Marvin (see pic) but with a thinner nose.
Better eyesight has eliminated this. Blotched complexion, melted candle-wax eye-bags and wearied cheeks drive out secret comforts. Not that it matters. I write, therefore I may lie.
Actually it does matter. My central characters are women, their private thoughts are my happy hunting ground. All are endlessly attractive to me but only one is beautiful; beauty is part of Judith's story in Blest Redeemer. Clare (Gorgon Times) has a drawn face and is buck-toothed. Jana (Out Of Arizona) is blemished. Francine's face (Second Hand) is bony, her blonde hair as lifeless as silk.
Those are the easy bits. But what about their inner opinions of their own looks? Do they make secretly exaggerated claims or are they terrified? Do they care? As a male author, wanting to do my best (ie, tell the truth) on their behalf I face an insurmountable barrier. No woman is going to volunteer, even hint. I must invent. And I may not be plausible.
Unless some supremely confident being can throw me an idea. Too late for Clare, Jana and Judith. But Francine (life rent by hideous trauma) needs help.
Second Hand (behind the scenes)
Guess whose physical persona I had in mind here:
As old as the hills, Torvald had said. Pratt had a gaunt face, his mouth bracketed between vertical grooves. His clothes hung like those of a fat man who’d abruptly lost weight. A shock of white hair looked stagy, flagging a spurious form of wisdom.