Pretty scares me.
I'm scared of pretty. How it defines and creates such rigid lines around us. I'm terrified to be defined by looks because looks will fade and I don't want to disappear. Pretty. A two syllable word that traps it's recipient in between so much turmoil. It's a badge we wear that protects and stops us from reaching our full potential. All because our hair, our eyes, our features are too pleasing. "Don't worry, you're still pretty" we're told to reassure us. As if life's problems can be solved with a hairbrush and a tube of mascara.
I don't want pretty to define me. But what would my life be without it? Like it or not, it's valuable. It gives us currency for better treatment, for kinder words, for smiles. My face is clear and my eyes are bright and I look much younger than my age which I'm told again and again is a good thing. My youthful looks are celebrated. My ability to hide behind my looks is new to me. It's a gift. You'll be thankful when you're 40. As if the fine lines on my forehead and eyes are a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode.
Pretty feels like a surprise to me. It was something that I wanted for so long. And then when it didn't feel attainable, I made jokes. And my jokes made people laugh, which made me smile and it felt great to be me again.
But somewhere down the line, pretty happened.
Always a bit of a late bloomer. I arrived late to a party I never thought I'd be invited to. Too skinny and awkward to be considered beautiful until I stopped caring and suddenly, I received my prize. The weird part is I have NO IDEA how it happened.
Everyone cheers for the former ugly duckling. So I'm told i'm pretty and it's new and when I wear make-up, people cheer but it feels like a mask. Encouraged to wear my hair down, my appearance like "Night and day" if I stopped resisting and put in "a little bit of effort" You'd be just beautiful. A reminder of what I've not yet achieved. My short-comings to show-up in my femininity. It's not a complaint but rather a fact. I am both pleased and disgusted to have pretty in my arsenal.
Once longed for, desired and cried over, now "pretty" feels empty. At least pretty on it's own. Perhaps combined with something else to make...what? I want to be more than just pretty. Contouring my eyes and adding colour to my cheeks when I like the way I look bare-faced even more. Pale, bare, me. I can tell when I'm sad because I'm dull and I know when I'm happy because I glow. Don't get me wrong, pretty feels nice. It dances around like the bubbles from champagne but the come down is hard. We must guard our looks or else what will we have left? So here's what I'd like to be, in order of how I'd like to be it. I'd like to be funny because it makes people smile and EVERYONE is beautiful when they smile. I'd like to be smart because I like to have answers for people's questions. And then I'd like be pretty when I chose to be. Like choosing a pair of pearl earrings to be worn on special occasions. I'll keep pretty in a box. I will own it. It will never own me. To have but never relied upon. Let's free ourselves from pretty. We are so much more than that word.