‘So, I let myself believe that I wasn’t beautiful. I let myself believe that I didn’t have the right to feel beautiful. I didn’t have the right to like a guy. I didn’t have the right to do what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the right to be happy, but I also didn’t have the right to be miserable because “somebody always has it worse.” ‘- the Healing Process
Here’s the thing: society makes it so hard to love ourselves. Everywhere we look we are surrounded by attributes that society tells us we need to have in order to be beautiful. Because, as a woman, society tells me that my worth is encompassed in my appearance.
False. I tell you that it is all false.
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of journaling. I have piles of notebooks filled with 3 am thoughts. I have notes on my phone filled with random “throughout the day” thoughts. I have saved drafts on my computer of writings that I might not ever share.
Last night, I found this one: a journal entry from exactly a year ago, a journal entry from a 17 year old me, crying out in frustration.
“look, I’m trying here; I’m trying to be ok and to like myself. But it’s hard to be ok when you don’t feel beautiful half the time. And when you do feel beautiful, people are always so willing to extinguish that thought. As soon as I have the tiniest bit of confidence, somebody comes along and crushes it again. That’s the hardest thing of all.
You know what I want more than anything in the world right now? I want to feel beautiful. I want somebody to tell me I’m beautiful; I want that person to mean it.”
I haven’t felt beautiful in years and on the rare occasion that I did, somebody was quick to criticize something about me. What kind of society is that?
What kind of society do we live in that teaches our children that beauty is looking like her or him? (and you all know the ‘her’ and ‘him’ to whom I am referring: The supermodel with perfect skin, perfect, teeth, perfect hair, and who is skinny, or the perfectly toned Abercrombie and Fitch Model with six-pack abs) What kind of society teaches our children that our value is based on what we look like? What kind of society teaches us that are identity is wrapped up in a guy? What kind of society teaches us that if we are raped, we were asking for it?
Answer: the wrong kind.
It’s taken a toll on me and my self-confidence and my sense of self-worth. It’s taken a toll on my friends and people who I come into contact with every day.
I wake up in the morning and don’t want to look in the mirror. She wakes up in the morning and wonders how many meals she should skip today.
You do realize that despite the years of starving herself because she didn’t feel worthy enough; despite the years of wearing a pound and a half of makeup because she has imperfections that run deeper than her skin; despite the years of staying in abusive relationships, because she believed her identity was found in a guy; despite all of this, all she ever wanted was to feel beautiful.
We are worth more than that.
So, Do not tell me I’m not beautiful, as you walk by with your arrogance on display, drawing the wrong kinds of people to you like a pack of dogs.
Do not tell me I’m not beautiful. I’ve listed the ways on my skin as I cut myself open with my own self-hate, and waited to be stitched together by empty words.
Do not tell me I’m not beautiful. The words running through my mind late at night do a fine job of that on their own.
Do not tell me I’m not beautiful. I’ve eaten my reflections so many times, and I’m still hungry.
Do not tell me I’m not beautiful because I’m not you. Beauty isn’t defined as 1,2,3, and it’s most certainly not a 5×5 grid of attributes to have.
Do not tell me I’m not beautiful because I do not fit in the shoe box of what society deems to be beautiful. Who I am cannot be squeezed into a box with the lid forced on, which is stored on a shelf until I’ve conformed with the rules of manufacturing that society creates to make us all identical.
Just don’t tell me.
Instead, tell your friends and children to be more than pretty.
Tell them to be pretty amazing, pretty smart, pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty eager to change the world. A five letter word does not describe them.
A five letter word does not describe you.
Be more than beautiful.