Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pretty Hurts

Conform. Sit still and look pretty. You must be pretty if you want to be loved. If you're not pretty, you can't even love yourself.
Well, you know what? Pretty hurts. I'm not talking about being beautiful. I'm talking about being forced into a box of how to feel and be. Of resenting people who are free, because of course we would all like to be like that, but you can't be free if you're trying to be pretty all the time.

Women (and men) are literally broken down into checklists and numbers. 5.0 or 9.5. Graded on our worthiness based on being pretty. Yes, a lot of it is looks. Industrialized looks. But a lot of it is deeper. What if thin lips could be beautiful? What if uneven skin could be beautiful? "No!" they say. It's all science. We aren't intelligent beings, we're animals. We can't help what we like. If you don't conform to what homo sapiens like, you will be unacceptable, unlovable and alone.
It comes almost true.
You fall for someone. You think they're great. But do you know what they think of you? They think your hair is the wrong color. So it doesn't work out.
It's heartbreaking.
You don't know yet that it will go deeper.
You fall for someone. You think they're great. This time, your hair is the right color. But do you know what they think of you? They think you're not entertaining enough. So it doesn't work out.
You start googling what you're doing wrong. There are plenty of people happy to tell you.
You fall for someone. You think they're great. This time, your hair is right. You work hard to be fun and spontaneous for them. You know they like this. But you didn't know that they like you to tell them that they are always right. So it doesn't work out.
You stop falling for people.
You start falling for the lies.
You study and shape yourself. You say it's self-improvement. It works.
But it makes you cry that it works.
You hear a song from years back every once in a while, or run into an old friend. It makes you nostalgic for yourself, before you knew what people liked.
It's hard to reconcile the likeable person you can be if you try and the unlikeable person you can be if you don't. We should try. We should be kind. We should have courage. We should be pretty.
You meet someone, but you don't fall.
You study. You feel something, so you calculate. You think.
You don't say too much or too little. You look good but hide the appearance of maintenance. You laugh but hide the frowns. You're pretty.
It works.
You keep them at arms distance but get terrified when they move farther away than your arm can reach. You are cool and unreachable, then you're desperate and irrational. You don't know why.
They stick around though. After a while, your arm gets tired of holding them at a distance. They're pretty cute, too, you want to be a little closer.
But what if they see? What if they start seeing the frowns? Or the pores? Or the moodiness? What if they see, Heaven Forbid, the dance moves???
Then one day it happens. They see something. Maybe it's a frown, or a rude remark. Maybe it's eyelashes with no mascara or a stretch mark. You freak out. Because you know what that will mean. That it won't work out.
Your knowledge comes from experience. It's not book knowledge, it's wisdom. It's truth. It's reality. We can't control what we like.
But then they don't go. It's confusing.
It's scary.
Because you know they will just see more. Then they will go, and you don't want them to. You never wanted them to.
They'll start saying things. Like that they don't care that you're not pretty. You never realized that that was what you wanted to hear all along.
Not that, "You are pretty."
That they don't care that you're not.
They think you're beautiful. They think your smiles and your frowns are beautiful. They think you're beautiful when you've shaved and when you are paying homage to your cold climate ancestors. They think your cuteness and your independence are beautiful.
You'll remember how it felt before you judged yourself. Before you decided only certain qualities could stay. Before something like the color of your hair could make you cry. You'll remember fearlessness. You'll remember confidence. You'll remember yourself like an old friend. You'll remember strength, not prettiness.
You'll still cry sometimes. You'll still get scared and crawl into your "pretty" box for protection. It's hard to believe, but you will see it with your own eyes. Your knowledge will come from experience. It won't be book knowledge, it will be wisdom. It will be truth. It will be reality. We can choose what we love.
Pretty girls make me cry. Because pretty hurts. Deeply. It doesn't hurt to put on mascara. But "pretty" girls put on mascara to cover up the pain of when someone said their eyelashes were short and it didn't work out. It doesn't hurt to exercise. But "pretty" girls run to run away from the pain of when someone said they were too fat and it didn't work out. Plastic surgery hurts. But not as much as the pain of someone not loving you because you're not "pretty."
Pretty is a mask that hides deep wounds of not being loved. But if we can be brave enough to put down the mask, someday we will discover that we're worth more than pretty. We're actually beautiful.

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