We have a plant in the office where I work. It’s got huge, impressive leaves and new growth constantly. People come through the office and ask what kind of plant it is, and are always blown away when they learn it’s a begonia. We give out cuttings just as often as we can, because this plant just keeps producing. It’s a marvelous physical specimen of a Beefsteak Begonia.
But I’ve never seen it bloom. In the four years I’ve worked there, I’ve never once seen it bloom. It’s thriving physically, but missing the special nurturing required to blossom. If it ever did, I would be astonished, and you can bet there would be pictures. Even if the flowers were just mediocre, they’d be something special.
Our plant reminds me of another late bloomer that everyone seems to be talking about this week. I’m of course referring to Caitlyn Jenner. Formerly Bruce, Caitlyn made her big reveal on the cover of Vanity Fair, stunning the public with a glamorous photo. People have already started comparing her to other women and objectifying her, and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show jumped in to congratulate her on “already being treated like a woman.” I admit that when I saw the photo, my first reaction was “She’s lovely!” Does this put me in the group that immediately made the reveal all about physical appearance? Are we all horrible people for commenting only on looks? Okay, some people are pretty awful, measuring her f***ability and nothing else, and it is a little sad when people say things like “Bruce Jenner was an Olympic athlete,” as if Caitlyn is an entirely different person who has so far only accomplished a photo shoot.
We’ve had time to think about and discuss the transition and Caitlyn’s athletic record from the 70s remains impressive. These things aren’t forgotten. She affirmed her gender identity in an interview with Diane Sawyer over a month ago. Right now, though, we are being confronted with a singular new aspect of Caitlyn’s identity: her new physical appearance.
Like our office plant, Caitlyn loses none of her impressive achievement, she has simply blossomed. That is the most remarkable quality right this moment. She would not have agreed to a photo shoot for a magazine if her appearance wasn’t important. Would you post your cutest selfie if you didn’t want people to tell you you’re cute? I see nothing wrong with honest first impressions based on Caitlyn’s new look, and for the most part, I don’t think anyone is closing the book on Bruce and saying that person no longer exists. Overall, Caitlyn is receiving wonderful support and public response, and I think the shoot was an excellent way to embrace and express the person she’s always known exists.
Maybe someday I’ll get to work and see the begonia has bloomed overnight.