As Don McLean says, “I could have told you, Vincent. This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”
I’m what author Jason Mott in his brilliant satire, Hell of a Book, calls “State College,” which is the name his Harvard-educated driver calls him. We state educated folks obviously don’t have the status markers to belong in the current “Meritocracy.”
There are a lot of us, but the tragedy of persons of merit who fight the status quo, such as one Cheslie Kryst, can also be quite appalling, especially when they came from states, like North Carolina, that are not usually primed to respect a woman’s rise through her own merit. They respect “beauty,” however, and this is what may have killed Cheslie Kryst.
As an English professor in state-run colleges (mostly community based), I understood the toll merit acquisition took from my students. Many were not from money. They were part of the “creeping divide” in this country that has recently become the Grand Canyon abyss and Victorian Era divide.
This brings me to the poem (yes, we state folks can write poetry). Mr. Mott’s book did win the National Book Award. I even won a “Readers Favorite Book Award” for my short stories. And Ms. Kryst won a lot of beauty contests, but therein lies the rub.
First, my humble poetry:
One more down. One more fallen.
Can I take many more?
The mind rumbles in oblivion.
She was marked with beauty.
Not a bad thing, when taken moderately.
But the stares, the expectations, the sophistry.
Is the division and priority still there?
A social stigma that trumps intellect for women.
She made her mark with compassionate wisdom.
Not beauty, that can be a beast.
When turned inward, turned against the grain.
When the need is peace and delicate joy.
Staring across the table at young men and women.
Trapped in prisons of no return.
They were marked like the beasts, the way she was.
Does beauty and intellect kill the inward flow?
Not with Cheslie. She was killed by us.
She wanted peace for all, for you, and for me.
So high up, so frail inside.
Loving to please, the distance down
Became the distance between
But she took it all out on herself.
The marked beauty.
The marked empath.
As you can see, Cheslie, in my opinion, was a “marked beast.” Our society, as she knew so well, places beauty for women above their intelligence. She attempted to change that. Good luck!
Have you seen Tiktok lately? Young women with large breasts spout advice to other “endowed” young ladies about saving the hundreds of thousands of dollars she makes posing nude. Women even establish vetted porn sites to interest only women. The “beast” of marked women is a multi-billion dollar industry, it seems, and this was what Ms. Cheslie Kryst was fighting, among other things.
Ms. Kryst even pointed out in a legal competition she was in that the judge recommended she “wear a skirt rather than pants.” In her job as an entertainment commentator, she was constantly attempting to tip the scale of prejudice in favor of women, but it was and is a losing battle.
In addition to having the widest divide in United States history between the felons attorney Kryst counseled and the meritocracy she blasted, there was an obvious divide between women being seen as sex objects and their being seen as other thinking and equal human beings. This divide was her motivation.
When Ms. Kryst stared down below at the streets of Manhattan, on that sad day, what was going through her mind? Was it as in the Billie Eilish song “Listen Before I Go?” (“Call all my friends and tell them that I love them.”) No, it was more like Billie’s song “Male Fantasy.”
Ms. Kryst left her “message” on Instagram, one of the places most accused of the manipulation and “body shaming trope” against young women. What did Kryst say?
“May this day bring you rest and peace.”
Who was her audience? That is the bigger question nobody seems to want to really answer. Especially those in the underground network of sexist realities. I believe her audience was we, who ignore her pleas for sanity.