Pretty Hurts

 
 

Pretty. Say the word out loud to yourself.  What thoughts or images does it conjure up?  Does it have negative or positive connotation in your mind? I hate the word pretty.

 
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We live in a world where everything from our clothes to our social media to even our babies are expected to be pretty. And I get that that statement seems ridiculous coming from me for some of you all.  You all see an accomplished woman with a law degree, a good job, a husband, and a daughter.  You see photos of my smile and laughter and hear about the good things.  I am sure you also think that I couldn't possibly understand what it feels like to not be "pretty."

Well, you can stop the judgment train and put your implicit bias aside right now. Pretty hurts.

 
 

I think it safe to say that I am pretty open and honest with you all on here. I have recounted my divorce, my childhood, my depression, but the one thing I often don't discuss is pretty. And I tell you why I have avoided it, I simply think that you all would assume that I'm just another pretty girl trying to garner sympathy with her bullying story.  But the truth is I wasn't bullied, I was popular by most standards in high school and liked.

In college I just assumed I looked good. I just never gave a second thought to being pretty because I was just being me. It wasn't until I had just taken the LSAT and my boyfriend at the time looked at me and declared as I was about to order celebratory pancakes (ya'll I just took a grueling test that could decide my fate)"Gah Lynn, I refuse to watch you stuff yourself with those. It's not a pretty look."

I was literally stopped in my tracks and speechless right there in iHop with the waiter looking at me.  This guy who I had been dating for over a year and whom I thought loved me for me told me I was fat. (That's all I heard).  I should have just dumped him, but I smiled sweetly and said you're right, I'll just take an egg white omelet and wheat toast.

Ya'll… I was the furthest thing from fat but in that moment I felt fat and ugly. It was in that moment that I became obsessed with how I looked.

I suddenly had this idolization of pretty and how to achieve it and what it looked like.  To me pretty was now skinny, long blonde hair, perfectly dressed, well-spoken and submissive.

I worked out all the time.  I watched everything I ate.  I obsessed over clothes and shoes and hell let's be real honest what I looked like naked. I wanted to please him and never have him say those words to me again.

I wish this pretty complex went away, but it only got worse.  It followed me to law school where I was suddenly the pretty one.  The girl who did beauty pageants and was put together and skinny.  And I let it control me.

So, when it came to my first wedding it had to be--pretty.  I needed the perfect pretty dress, perfect pretty reception, perfectly pretty ceremony, songs, centerpieces.... ya'll you get it.  I HATED everything about it (ok not my dress. that was me).

I let pretty control me and constantly compared myself to this image of what pretty was in my head.  It was flat out exhausting.  My home needed to be pretty, my blog, my friends, my damn fucking dog.  It drove me to depression and anxiety and anger.

So here I am: skinny, long blonde extensions, happy photos.  But this time, its not about pretty its about confidence, self-love, independence and health.

I never tell E she is pretty.  I tell her that her outfit is pretty, her picture is pretty, her toes are a pretty color.  I tell her that she is smart, has a beautiful smile, infectious laugh and pretty spirit.  It's not that I do not think my daughter isn't pretty, its just that I want her to know that pretty is just an adjective to describe things and not what you want to be.

You do not have to be pretty.  You can have pretty things and wear pretty things and style your home pretty if you want, but remember none of those things define you.