Recently, a friend of mine published a very personal essay about beauty, perception of beauty, and honesty in a relationship. She went and said out loud that she herself had never been physically attractive, yet is married to a handsome man who is honest enough to admit that he, too, never considered her body attractive. He married her for her brains and her personality.
The instant I shared that essay on my Facebook page, the girls started screaming. How come her husband is still alive? How dare he say such a thing? Insensitive bastard!
Wait a moment.
Wait a moment, and remember that you are the same girls who constantly complain that men always talk to your boobs, not your face. The same girls who constantly nag about how you’re never appreciated for your brains, or for being kind, or for whatever else. Here we have a man who, obviously, looked past the boobs, saw a woman he didn’t find physically appealing, but still considered her to be a wonderful person, someone to fulfill and complement him on a completely different level. This man scrapped his personal opinion of what his woman should look like, and he WENT AND MARRIED HER.
How dare you complain about such a man.
I grew up with a sister who was so freaking beautiful, she made a living being the cover girl of an international supermarket chain for three years. Eventually, she gave it up, because she wanted a job where she could use her not inconsiderable brains. However, people always compared me to her, and found me lacking in the looks department. Nose too big. Boobs too small. Teeth not straight enough. Feet too big. Legs too muscled. Hair too dull in color. You name it.
My sister is ten years older than me, so this means that I learned, from a very young age on, that even if I probably can’t be considered ugly, I’ll be happy to settle with cute. Maybe someone might even think me pretty, but (and I’m totally stealing from A Chorus Line here) beautiful was something I’d never live to see. For a while, in early adolescence, that was hard to swallow. Because everywhere around me, I saw girls in tight skirts, with make-up applied thickly onto their pimpled, adolescent faces, and I was utterly unable to play along because of the little voice in my head that insisted it would all be wasted on me, and that I needn’t even try.
I was lucky to grow up in a family that didn’t adhere much to the old-fashioned rules of society, which say that a man needs to be successful and a woman needs to be pretty. I was always encouraged to use my brains rather than anything else. Which, as soon as the worst flashes of adolescence had passed, saved me from worrying about my looks any further. I simply reached the point where I couldn’t be arsed anymore. You can’t wear those jeans, not with your body? Fuck you, they’re comfortable and I like them. You can’t go up on stage and sing a solo in front of the choir, not with your looks? Fuck you, I’ve got the voice, I don’t need the looks.
By now I’m probably all grown up (stop laughing), and happily married myself. To a man who does, indeed, find me physically attractive. He’s also honest. I’m currently coming down with a cold. One glance in the mirror tells me I’m pale, my eyes are half-closed, and all in all I look like shit. I asked him yesterday, do I look like I feel? (Careful, careful. Is it a trap? Does she want to hear, darling, you’ll always look beautiful to me?) He narrowed his eyes, raised an eyebrow, and gave me a curt nod. I took his answer for what it was – his way of telling me that I should go to bed. Which I did. I’m feeling much better today, due to having had ten hours of sleep. I didn’t need a false compliment, I needed someone to kick me into doing what was right for me.
Which leads us back to the title of this post. Stop worrying about pretty. Stop letting your own expectations of beauty, or any society-imposed perceptions, stand in your way. Go out and live, do whatever it is you want to do, and if someone tells you that with your looks, you can’t…breathe deeply and repeat to yourself, it’s not worth the jail time, it’s not worth the jail time, it’s not worth the jail time… Surround yourself with people who will look past the outer shell and see you, really see you. Fuck everybody else, and fuck pretty.