"too pretty to be intelligent"


it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive

"she's attractive so she must be a snob"


by michelle ford

where the hell do we learn to create these kinds of associations? i can say in honesty and with much shame, that i have thought these things of some women. i might not have said it this way, but the internal dialog and the final conclusion plays out pretty much like those two sentences. in fact, i have two girls in my circle of friends who i clearly remember, surprised me so much when i realized how sweet, down-to-earth and street smart they were. it was so very wrong of me to assume that because they were beautiful they would be A. unapproachable and B. simple minded.

some other things of note:

  • the fact that they were the complete opposite of what i expected made me fall in love with who they really were even more. 

  • after observing their manner, i also realized that they seem to have a studied way of being EXTRA nice. as in, nicer than was normal but incredibly genuine as well.

of course, the analyst in me has to dwell on this even longer and the girl in me tends to internalize.


i know i'm intelligent. it's not a subjective observation it is merely a statement of fact proven by a list of achievements. i know that i'm personable. that's definitely subjective but ... let's go by what people have said and count that as truth. i know that i'm not un-attractive. attractiveness is a highly subjective quality and it's not something you openly discuss with friends or strangers unless you're in a contest that requires explicit judgement of that particular attribute. permutations on that combination elicit different reactions from people. the general guideline for most is that we want to be likeable. it's a quality that many people strive for. how easy it is to attain that quality seems to linger around a specific  balance in the ratio of how attractive, how personable and how intelligent one is. likeable is related to reachable and real .. in other words, perfect is impossible and could not possibly be genuine and the closer you are to it the less likeable you are.

this realization led to my own conclusion on why i felt compelled to rough up my persona with qualities that are in direct contrast to the usual expectations for someone who looks like me. i curse like a sailor. i chop my hair off. i've assumed a sportier demeanor, almost tomboyish. i wear contradictions on a whim. i do whatever i can to stay unpredictable.


now, i'm not saying that i'm by any means perfect. but i've been blessed with intelligence and a fair share of pretty and now looking back, i can see that people have at times treated me unfairly as a result. i've felt the pressure to be perfect since i was a kid and i've also felt the sting from those that instinctively recoiled from these blessings that can turn out to be curses. it's lonely when people treat you like a snob before they get to know you. it's work to have to prove that you can be both intelligent and attractive. it's also work to prove that you can be genuine when others have already stereotyped you. i can say that i've taught myself to never look up or around to see if people are judging me coz i'm so used to it being there. it hurts to see it. and when you look you find. so i just stopped looking.


about michelle

1. I crave…nutella, barbecue beef hot pockets, kimchi fried rice, sinigang, pickles, cherry garcia, doritos   

2. My role…i’m a mom twice over. i’ve got a frown monster and a giggly dragon. i’m a friend, a sister, a community child and the eldest cousin in a brood 

3. I love…to travel, to eat and to fashion fantasize since I can’t always afford to shop. i HATE to use caps.

4. I am…a shoe whore, an analyst and a thinker. i’m also shy around strangers, a total sap and a complete contradiction.

i am a photographer. and i enjoy photographing love + beauty

“i believe that everything happens for a reason. my past lives are a definite road map to where i am today. i was a dancer and this helps me define my photos through lines and balance. i worked in fashion retail for years and it helps me understand trends. i’m a techie geek with a computer science background and i need that to control my camera, equipment and all the software needed to transform my photos into art. but really to me it’s about..real life, real people, real photos. more often than not i find myself looking for a person’s essence as i shoot a photograph. it’s always nice to have a beautiful picture; the right light, the right composition, the right colors… but it’s even better when the right personality injects itself fully onto the image. i might set a story in motion or just guide it along snapping away the whole time, but every now and then i’ll sneak a shot when no one’s looking. i’m constantly hunting for that elusive moment, the look that describes a person to the T. the rules on the playground are simple. relax, be yourself, have fun, pretend the camera’s not there and don’t forget to breathe. it makes for GENUINE pictures.”

COCO gallery is a southern california based photography company operating out of costa mesa, CA.