illusory.

What you say and how you look does not define who you are, because some of the most beautiful people do the ugliest things. You owe it to the people who hate you, who disrespect you and who put you down. Because they are the ones who have made you who you are today; for keeping your head up and not breaking down when they want you to.

underneath

What could she have been thinking about? Not much, I guess; not back then, not at the time. She was thinking about how not to think. The times were abnormal. She took pride in her appearance. She did not believe he was a monster. He was not a monster, to her. Probably he had some endearing trait: he whistled, offkey, in the shower, he had a yen for truffles, he called his dog Liebchen and made it sit up for little pieces of raw steak. How easy it is to invent a humanity, for anyone at all. What an available temptation. A big child, she would have said to herself. Her heart would have melted, she’d have smoothed the hair back from his forehead, kissed him on the ear, and not just to get something out of him either. The instinct to soothe, to make it better. There there, she’d say, as he woke from a nightmare. Things are so hard for you. All this she would have believed, because otherwise how could she have kept on living?

She was very ordinary, under that beauty.

Margaret Atwood (A Handmaid’s Tale)