I was born exactly 10 years to the day after the nuptials of my objectively beautiful mother and my objectively beautiful father — years after they conceived my two objectively beautiful siblings.
They claim it wasn’t an accident, but I’ve never really cared about that. I pay more attention to the fact that my parents were still romping around in the sheets after two kids and 10 years of marriage — something I accredited to their objective beauty, of course.
It wasn’t long before my shiny, bald head excreted bleach blonde tresses, dark eyelashes and silky, milky skin.
The verdict was in, the objective beauties had created yet another objective beauty.
And so, thus began my life as the pretty little girl from across the street, the pretty little girl in your son’s class, the pretty little girl on the high school cheerleading team, the pretty little girl in the cubicle next to you.
It didn’t matter that I was reading at a middle school level by third grade. Or, that I was sharing my lunch money with the other kids. Or, that I was one of ten journalism students in the state of Indiana to win a coveted grant to spend the summer as a full-time journalist at just 21. All that mattered was how I looked doing all of it. And after a while, this sort of toxicity infiltrated my own thoughts.
All of this sounds incredibly conceited, so let me point this out: No matter how much I heard it, I never thought of myself as the pretty little girl.
I thought of myself as the little girl who had to be pretty in order to be liked.
This made me place more importance on my looks than any other part of myself. They became my cushy place to land when things didn’t go my way. My thoughts morphed. They changed. They became “I didn’t get that job, but at least I’m pretty,” and “I fucked up in my relationship, but I know I’ll find someone else who likes how I look,” and “I didn’t get off, but I think I looked good to them in bed.”
So imagine the messed up existentialism that comes for the pretty girl when she has a rough year. When she’s overloaded at work and can’t make it to the gym as much as she once did. When she’s cramping and bloated and her skin is breaking out. When she sees a picture of herself from an unflattering angle. When she deals with a six month-long bout of insomnia which dons her face with little purple circles.
Shit ain’t sweet.
When you and every other person you come in contact with unknowingly puts unsurmountable pressure on looks, you start to feel worthless when you can’t perform. When you can’t show up meeting the expectations you think they’ve set for you.
When you think being pretty is who you are, what you’re known for and why you have the friends, possessions and attitude you have, you spiral at any inclination of them going away.
It is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous but consistent worry of our generation.
And, besides climate change and ass-backwards politics, something we should think about working on the most.
And, I’m trying.
I voice my worries to the supportive people in my life who never fail to bring me back down to earth and remind me of all that I am. I write what I’m feeling down. I keep a running list of everything I’m thankful for, another running list of everything I’ve accomplished. I read, I write, I work on the parts of myself I love the most and I get a little smarter for it everyday.
I laugh at the pure nonsense of the shallow pressures I’ve put myself under. I still want to be perfect. But, I continuously remind myself that no one is.
In fact, everyone’s a little ugly — even the people you think are perfect.