Forty-Something Years in Ninaland


Pretty Is as Pretty Does

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

There are moments that I just want to be pretty. I mean I don’t care if I’m smart or nice, I just want to be pretty, period. It’s twisted, it’s sort of sick. I read a quote somewhere about how unattractive women are the only women who truly understand men. But being pretty does not really have anything to do with men, or does it? Do I want to be pretty for men, or for myself, or for the world? I hope it’s not for men, that’s all I can say. No offense.

I guess I’m sort of pretty, but definitely not as pretty as I want to be. I’m fatter now, so it translates in my head as less pretty. When I was younger, and thinner, I really did rely on my beauty sometimes. I let it define me. It’s funny I didn’t really like myself then. It’s ironic I was pretty, but not happy with myself.

It’s very empty to base much of who you are on what you look like. You know, you know the truth deep down inside you…that some men want to own you and hurt you, and some women want to be you and hate you. You know that you are more than a pretty face, you know something is telling you that you are only being looked at and not heard, because you think you aren’t supposed to have a voice. Because you think you are here to be looked at.

Now I am starting to like myself more, maybe even lovish myself a little. I am more me now because I can’t rely on just my looks to be noticed. I have to be somebody…somebody complete to really even notice myself. I noticed that I really existed as a human being when I started to really struggle with my weight and consequently my ‘beauty.’ I see myself clearer now.

I’m not suggesting you get fat in order to know or be your true self. I’m suggesting you notice yourself as more than a pretty face, or a plain face, or even an ugly face. Let’s face it, there are ugly people in this world, and it is the most difficult on women. There is something deeply wrong with how much emphasis we put on our looks.

Yet I still worry about my appearance. I will go to the grocery store wearing sweats, however I won’t go to work without wearing really nice clothes and make-up. Especially when I’m teaching.

I wonder what that is really about. I need this mask on in order to stand up in front of a bunch of people and profess what little I know. Maybe I think ‘they’ will like me better if I look ‘nicer.’

My students could care less, right? It’s me. It’s all about how I perceive myself. Sometimes I can’t act as smart when I look like shit. After all, I’m a strong feminist but I still worry about the size of my breasts and the curve of my hips. I’m not totally convinced a man will love me because I’m not the size I want to be.

I stopped caring about random men, or even men in my life. I just want one man to find me beautiful. There was a time when I wanted to be wanted by a lot of men instead of just one man. I’m too old for that now. I’m too tired to care.

Psychologists would tell me that I gained weight in order to protect myself from sexual advances from random men, and they would not be wrong. I’m uncomfortable with my body.

I told my friend the other day that when I’m around tall, thin, beautiful white women, I feel small and inferior. It’s disturbing to me. My pretty white friend told me that it was probably because they represent some ideal in our society.

I’m still a slave to this bullshit? Why am I not smarter than that? I expect more from myself. My self worth is attached to the way I look. The problem with that is, I will progressively look ‘worse’ the older I get, the fatter I get. The problems with that ideology are endless…I am not an object. I’m not a thing. I’m a whole being. If I had a burned face or covered my face with a scarf, I would still be me.

Who the fuck am I anyways? I promised myself I would not be that girl, now I’m that woman. I’m that woman who looks at other women and I compare myself to them. I envy ‘perfect’ women, young women, even though I’m not that old…yet.

I know, I know in my head that all that matters is who I am inside. But it brings tears to my eyes when feel like it’s not good enough to have a wonderful, fabulous personality. I’m not even sure I have a glamorous persona, but I do know that I have to accept this person that I am. Inside and out. There are actual people in this world who love me. Despite the size of my ass and the dark circles under my eyes.

I want to ask those people sometimes what they see in me. Why I don’t always see it is beyond me. There are times when I feel so ugly and so alone. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot of confidence. Enough to go up in front of many people and speak my mind. I can work a room at a party. But sometimes it is an act.

I think of real actresses and models, there is now a movement to allow ‘plus size’ models in mainstream modeling. In fact on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swim suit issue, there was a woman who wears size 16. When I saw her picture in a bikini I can’t tell you how empowered I felt in that moment. But the truth is I can’t wait for society to empower me, I have to do it myself, for myself.  Yes we should all be accepting of every body shape, but that’s not going to happen. I want to stay empowered, but I fail sometimes.

You want to know something sad and disgusting? I saw a picture of Kelly Clarkston’s face and thought to myself, she sure has gained weight. I didn’t know she was in her last stage of pregnancy. I didn’t know that I am ill. And even if she wasn’t pregnant, why does she not have the right to be big and beautiful? Who am I to judge?

I see these people with their lip augmentations, a lot of Indian actresses are getting them, and wonder if I would look better with bigger lips. I’m not actually against plastic surgery if it makes someone feel better. But the real question is why do we think that surgery will cure us from the sickness of feeling inadequate? If it’s not my protruding belly, it’s my jiggly arms. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY BODY.

This is a problem. This is not right. Something is very wrong with this story. This is not just my story…

We have to fight this..we have to end this. It’s about time women realize that real equality starts in our minds. We must not kill our inner selves because our outer selves are not in line with an ideal that does not exist.

What this is really about is the way I feel inferior because I’m not ‘perfect’ even though I intellectually know there is no perfect. I will not ever take a full-length picture of myself. What am I supposed to do with this self-hate?

It can’t end this way. I got to come up with something.

Maybe I chose to be writer because you can’t see me in these words. But maybe words and ideas are more important than photographs and selfies. I don’t need to be pretty for you and I don’t need to be pretty for me. Life is not a beauty pageant, and if it was I would protest it.

Because I am better. Better than that. I deserve better from myself.

I will feel better because I know better. “And when you know better, you do better,’” Maya Angelou. And like Maya I’m a phenomenal woman, that’s me.






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 February 26th, 2016  

2 Responses to Pretty Is as Pretty Does

  1. There is so much in your article, however I know you will be fine because you “lovish (yourself) a little.” 🙂 I love the fact that you are so transparent and honest when you write. It makes you vulnerable. But it is because of this vulnerability that allows the reader to learn from your experience. I believe it also allows you to learn about yourself as you write.

    Thanks for sharing this particular thought. I wonder what your classes would write on the topic of “pretty is as pretty does”?

  2. Great article, saddly you are not alone in this kind of thinking.

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