I'm Sorry, I Think I'm Pretty
"Girls aren’t supposed to know if they’re pretty or not, we’re supposed to wait for other people to tell us, before we’re allowed to feel it about ourselves." - The Summer I Turned Pretty (this is a partial TSITP fan post)
I decided something recently, I've decided that I'm pretty. I'm pretty without ifs or buts. This is... a pretty big deal for me. Especially because I never thought it would happen this way. Last year I decided to stop dyeing my hair blonde and try transitioning to my natural hair color. I've been dyeing my hair blonde for the last 6 years and honestly never thought I could find myself pretty without it. But, I also realized that I was using the blonde as a way of shielding myself. I was pretty if I was blonde. It felt like a lot of my beauty became conditional. I'm pretty if I curl my hair, if I dress up, if I have winged eyeliner. I'm pretty but I have to pay $200 for my hair, but my boobs could be bigger, but I need to lose 5 pounds. I couldn't just look at myself and be happy. And somehow, surprisingly, dyeing my hair back to its natural color has stripped all that away from me. Now when I look in the mirror I like how I look 90% of the time, compared to the 30% it used to be... that's pretty huge.
So yeah, I've decided I'm pretty, and frankly, I'm tired of acting like I'm not.
Honestly, I partially blame Mean Girls. The whole "so you agree, you think you're really pretty" line led a whole generation of girls to think they couldn't think they were pretty. Being pretty had to be this thing that other people told you and when they did, you had to act shocked, deny it a little, and humbly thank them. We couldn't just... know we were pretty. We had to be blind to it and I think becoming blind to it has subconsciously led to so many of my own insecurities and feelings of low self-worth. I mean, if I was constantly waiting for someone else to tell me I was pretty, was I pretty without them telling me?
So there I was... constantly waiting for someone else to tell me I'm pretty. I'd spend 40 minutes on my hair, 20 minutes on my makeup, 30 minutes picking out the right outfit, plus the 2 hours I spent in the gym every day for the week before an event. I put time and energy into my appearance, I checked and double-checked and triple-checked myself in the mirror, from multiple angles to make sure that I looked good. And I felt good. But then I'd go out and I didn't get told I was pretty, so... was I not pretty? Was everything I just spent all my time on for nothing? And why couldn't I just find myself pretty and that be the end of it?
I know what you're thinking, "but Christy, no one said that you need someone else to tell you you're pretty." I hear you, and you're totally right. But the difference here is that I can think that I'm pretty, but I can't say that I'm pretty. I can't know I'm pretty until someone else gives me permission to know that. Men are allowed to gawk at me while I ride my bike, to leer, to whistle, to slide into my DMs and offer me money for pictures of my feet (but don’t worry nothing sexual needs to happen), to follow me into coffee shops to tell me how cool they think my tattoos are. Men can do all that, but god forbid I say I’m pretty. I say I'm pretty and all of a sudden I'm egotistical, or shallow, or self-indulgent, or overly confident, or asking for it.
There are a lot of reasons I may feel pretty now, and maybe those reasons are that I'm just egotistical and shallow and self-indulgent and overly confident (but I'm definitely not asking for it... no... never that.)
Ever since I was 16 I was counting down to getting older. When I was 16 I wanted to be 18, when I was 18 I wanted to be 21, and when I was 21 I wanted to be 25. Now I'm 25 and I finally feel okay, I don't feel like I'm counting down anymore. Maybe that's because I've graduated college or because I feel like there are no other exciting ages past 25. I don't know, all I know is that for once in my life I feel very comfortable at the age I'm at.
For the first time in my life, I feel more comfortable in my body than I do insecure in it. I say that because I think that distinction is important. I think I'm pretty, I don't think I'm perfect. My boobs could still be bigger, and they could be closer together, my legs could have a little bit more of a gap so they didn't chafe every time I walk more than 15 minutes in the summer, and my back could be a bit toner so I don't get as much armpit fat when I wear strapless tops, my tummy could be a little flatter so I don't feel it jiggle with every step I take. I look at my body and see that it can still be better, but now it's not the first thing that I see.
When I look in the mirror the first thing I see is my freckles, I love my freckles. And then my eyes, my dark brown eyes that could be boring but to me look full of life. I see my mouth (& my cheekbones) always looking like they're ready to smile. I see my clear skin, something I've been super blessed with so I don't have to deal with foundation. I see my brown hair, something that I used to hate but now I love because it makes me feel softer. I see my curves and my itty bitty titties that don't need a bra to look good. I see my strong legs, sure they chafe but they're strong as fuck too. I see all these things now instead of all of the things that I hate. They're still there, but they don't matter as much to me anymore because everything else is enough to make me feel pretty. To look in the mirror again and love what I see.
I went out to The Victorian in Santa Monica with a friend over the fourth of July weekend and I wasn't comparing myself to other girls. It was crazy, I have lived so much of my life insecure and hating myself, and yet I went out and danced and partied around girls who were at least 4 years younger than me, much skinnier than me, or taller than me, or any of the other things that I usually get insecure about. And I didn't feel insecure once that night.
It's been incredibly freeing to know that I'm pretty. I no longer feel like I have to hide this part of myself, or that I have to exacerbate other parts of myself to overcompensate. Let me explain. I currently work as a content creator for a company where it's my job to get pretty and film content online and sometimes it feels like that's all I'm good for. I spent a lot of my time already not liking how I looked and then I made a job out of standing in front of a camera to look pretty and it felt like every time a video didn't do well it was a direct reflection on me and how I appeared in that video. No longer could I just feel pretty, I had to get a certain amount of likes to prove I was and if I didn't not only was I not pretty but I also wasn't doing what I was being paid to do. I started to feel like I had to prove to everyone that I was smart, to be good at other things because I couldn't rely on just being a pretty girl when I didn't feel pretty. I needed to have something else.
Now I don't feel that pressure anymore. I can be both. I can know that I'm pretty and also know that I'm smart. I can dress up and still demand to be taken seriously. I can walk into a room, know that I'm pretty, and not need someone else to tell me that to feel vindicated for the hours of prep that I put into how I look. I can understand that not getting likes on a photo doesn't mean I'm not pretty... or that I'm not good at my job.
I can't remember the exact conversation, but recently I mentioned casually that I'm pretty to someone I know. I said something along the lines of "Yeah well I'm pretty so.." then, the person I was talking to was shocked that I would say it like that, and I responded with, "Am I not supposed to think I'm pretty?" (again this is a very very loose remembrance of the conversation but the spirit is the same.)
I'm no longer playing the game of pretending I don't know I'm pretty, of pretending that I don't notice when men stop to watch me, or when I get a free drink for smiling at someone or waiting to get a compliment to feel confident. Being pretty is as much of a skill I have as my ability to write is. It's something that I put time and energy into that opens doors for me. I no longer will hide that.
I'm sorry, I think I'm pretty.
Until next time!
A Whelmed Christy
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