It took me years to like the way I looked. Growing up I was a teenager with thick glasses, out-of-control hair (thick hair is wonderful but only if you know what to do with it; as a teen I most certainly had no clue how to manage it), zero fashion sense, and worst of all absolutely no self-confidence in the way I looked. Any time I imagined myself in some situation, the first thing I would think is to pretend I was pretty. I pretended to be pretty, I never felt pretty.
My parents told me I was but parents are supposed to do that. Parents aren’t supposed to say, “yes dear, you’re ugly but you have many other charming qualities” so I didn’t buy it when they said that.
Sad as it is to admit, it took something physical to change my perceptions of myself. I wish I could say that I transcended the need to be pretty, a need that is ingrained into not only our society but society around the world; what is deemed attractive depends on culture and history but whether you’re talking about the 18th century or today you’ll always find a woman who wanted to look good. But it was indeed something physical that finally made me like what looked back out of the mirror. It was my first pair of contact lenses at the age of 17.
Over the years I guess that I’ve found a combination of acceptance and approval within myself. I don’t stare in the mirror all day long sighing with joy but I don’t avert my eyes either. It’s a balance. But even at the age of 36, even with a year’s worth of yoga under my belt – where acceptance of who and what and where you are is a strong theme – the word “pretty” still echoes over and over from time to time. It’s amazing how deep a neurosis over physical appearance can run.
I hadn’t planned on writing all of that, I guess it’s like the typing version of vomiting all over the internet (which is a pretty good description of blogging in general). All I really meant to do was share this amazing video that Caitlin from Operation Beautiful posted on Twitter this morning. I don’t put my feminist hat on too often but this video speaks volumes and it brought me to tears. Not only is it important to watch for yourself, if you have daughters or ever might have them then I think you need to see this.
(There is one moment of swearing so you might want to view it first before watching it WITH your daughters.)
Every once in awhile I post something deeply personal and I get ready to cringe in hindsight so I reserve the right to edit this post later if I suddenly get all embarrassed. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the clip.