I Feel Pretty

I've hinted before at my awkward stage(s) before the blog--telling how it took me awhile to wear skirts regularly because I was self-conscious about my legs. I haven't gone into depth over the myriad of reasons I felt this way or how my self-consciousness extended beyond my legs because despite my habit of blogging daily I'm a fairly private person and while personal journey stories can be inspiring they can also be triggering and what has been said cannot be unsaid...but I was recently doodling and the above idea came out and took me back to those more painful years.

There are a variety of reactions from well-meaning friends when they corner you in a conversation about looks and you manage to admit you aren't a fan of your own. Usually they're quick to reassure you that you are pretty in some times the most amusing way--like comparing you to an exotic fish or claiming some random acquaintance has the hots for you. All of those responses always just served to remind me that my looks were very important--it wouldn't be okay for me to not be pretty. Some part of me had to be pretty, or I was pretty in a different way, or pretty to someone. So my downward spiral of self-loathing would continue because I couldn't look in a mirror without wanting to cry and I needed to like what I saw in the mirror.

In fact, it wasn't until I just told myself "you aren't pretty and that doesn't matter" that I actively started to feel better about myself. I stopped waiting for my legs to get tanned and toned to wear the dresses I liked; stopped waiting for a lot of things to happen in order to wear clothes I liked and actively express myself through my hair style and make-up and so on. It wasn't that I thought about it as an effort to make myself pretty or make my outsides match my insides/interests a bit more, it was that when I stopped worrying about pretty and focused on my interests I felt so much better. You don't have to be pretty to be worthwhile. You're allowed to draw attention to yourself even if you're ugly. You don't have to feel "cute" to wear the clothes you like, or raise your hand in class and draw attention to yourself, or hit on some dude you see at a cafe, or whatever "not feeling pretty" stops you from doing. I decided to focus my sense of worth on something entirely outside of my looks and treat clothes/fashion as a hobby rather than an attempt to beautify. The more I managed to care less about my appearance, the better I felt. The more I shared my opinions or developed my hobbies the more worthwhile I felt.

Nowadays I'm reasonably comfortable with my looks--I have off-days where I feel ugly and in contrast moments of narcissism where I'm quite pleased with how a dress suits me (and could burst into song with "I feel pretty, oh so pretty and witty and bright..."). I wouldn't necessarily change my past and I don't think there is anything wrong with your friends assuring you that you are pretty, but I think it's nice every once in awhile for someone to say, "it's okay that you feel that way. You're awesome for so many reasons other than your looks."


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