Let’s be honest; we live in a society that stresses appearances. Is that actually a surprise to anyone? We are always trying to be thinner or more muscular. We get keratin treatments for our hair, Botox, laser hair removal. We go tanning and get our teeth whitened. The stress to “look good” can be unbearable. But who decides what makes us beautiful? And is it really worth it?
I spent about seven years, from sixth grade through high school graduation, as the “ugly” girl. Every day I heard nicknames like “rat girl”, “mighty mouse”, “Master Splinter.” One particularly dedicated classmate actually used to draw pictures of cheese and tape them to my locker. When I would walk by, he would make little mouse noises. The most creative name I heard in high school? That would be the person who nicknamed me “pirate”. Yes, that’s right. Because pirates have sunken chests. Badumbum. Looking back, these nicknames are so stupid and small-minded, except for pirate. That one was actually creative. At the time it was happening to me, though, I cried every single day. I have never been the type of person to pick on others and I couldn’t understand why people were being so mean to me.
Now, coming from such an “ugly” place, I think I have earned the right to say that I am a “pretty girl”. That’s such an unpopular thing to acknowledge in our society. We’re not supposed to admit that we think we’re beautiful or “hot.” But why not? What’s wrong with that? No one says we shouldn’t admit to being kind or generous or smart and those are things we actually had to do something to accomplish. Sure, the right make-up, hair style and going to the gym can certainly add to our attractiveness but for the most part, you’re either born with it or you’re not. As women, we’re trained that when someone compliments our appearance, we are supposed to look demurely at the ground, tuck our hair behind our ear and say something like “oh, stop” or “no, no, my hips are too big.” Why is it wrong to just say “Thank you”? I spent way too long being the ugly duckling and trying to figure out how to make my ears smaller and my boobs bigger. Now, I will admit that my ass looks great in that dress anytime I want to. If that makes me a stuck-up bitch, than so be it. I’ve been called worse things. Within the past week, in fact!
People always say that “pretty-people” get unfair advantages in the world. Look at Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. They’re famous for…what exactly? And let’s be honest, Paris has a smoking body but the face? Leaves a bit to be desired. But I digress. There are studies done that attractive people are more likely to get the job they want or to make more money. We all know about the women who date or marry wealthy men just for the perks. And because of this, we are trained to hate the beautiful people.
I will never forget when I was in fifth grade and we took a field trip to Fire Island. Seriously, fifth grade and I remember this like it was yesterday. One of my overweight classmates who was bunking with me started picking on me for being “scrawny” and calling me anorexic and bulimic. I was so hurt by her taunts and I replied in typical fifth-grader fashion and called her a fat cow. She ran to the counselor and I was the one who got in trouble. I stood outside with the counselor in tears trying to explain how much I had been hurt by the things she said to me but that counselor didn’t care. She explained that everyone wants to be thin and I shouldn’t be insulted by that. The grass certainly is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? The thing is, that “skinny” girl you’re jealous of? She may have struggled with her own weight issues that you don’t understand her whole life.
I was born a “fat” kid. So fat that my uncle nicknamed me “dump truck.” Eight years of gymnastics helped to even me out a bit but then I became the “skinny” girl. Until my last year of college when I became the chubby girl. Yes, that’s right, I was overweight. I had chipmunk cheeks, got the nickname Chippette (which I loved), and actually had boobs. Until I got mono and lost over twenty pounds from living on ice pops for a month. Truthfully? I think I was much prettier as a chubby girl. Okay, so I had a muffin top and could store nuts in my cheeks for winter (get your minds out of the gutter) but so what? Who decided that thin was what’s pretty? Some of the most beautiful women I know shop in the “misses” section. They have big hips, big butts and big hearts. Their smiles could light up a room and their eyes sparkle. They are “big” because they were born that way or because they have brought life into this world and they are absolutely stunning.
Audrey Hepburn once said “For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.” The bottom line? It’s who you are inside and what you do for those around you that makes you beautiful. And I believe that. Beauty radiates from inside and that is what will attract people to us in the long run. You can be the hottest woman in the world but if you are a cold-hearted, self-centered, manipulative brat, people will eventually figure that out and won’t stick around for too long.
As someone whose close friends have always been male, things can get complicated sometimes when girlfriends or wives come into the picture. A few years ago, I was supposed to go to Florida for my birthday to visit my best friend in the entire world, who is like a big brother to me. We were roommates when I lived down there and have known each other FOREVER (actual time is about ten years.) He is the Will to my Grace, except he isn’t gay so he hates when I call him that. I say I was supposed to go because his girlfriend forbid me to. Despite him having a guest room in his house so I clearly wouldn’t be sleeping in his room with him or lounging around in my panties on the couch. The explanation for why this woman who had never met me wouldn’t let me visit? She had jealousy issues. When I complained that this was ridiculous, a co-worker said “She probably saw your picture and that’s why.” Um, what? First of all, I’m only a few inches taller than a midget, have a big Italian nose, stretch marks on my butt and still have no chest. Those pirates hid it well. But, okay, she thinks I’m pretty. So what? I’m also kind, compassionate, funny, smart, trust worthy and above all, I respect other people’s relationships. None of that mattered to this girl though. I was being judged by a photo; judged that I must be a homewrecking whore.
One of my closest friends for the past sixteen years, a man who helped me survive our mutual friend committing suicide eleven years ago, is now married. I have met his wife on several occasions, before they were married. I attended their wedding and held their son. And still, when I was going through a rough patch and wanted to have dinner with my friend to talk about things, I was told that she would have to come. She wasn’t comfortable with him and I spending time together alone. Because, let’s be honest, if I had wanted her husband, I would’ve acted on it sometime over the course of the past sixteen years of our friendship. Pretty girls can get their own men right? So why would we need to steal yours? The truth is, the pretty girl often does sit at home alone on a Friday night. (I blame men with no… you know, for that!)
Most recently, one of the most beautiful women I know got married last weekend. She is beautiful because she has a heart the size of Texas. She is loving, loyal, giving and kind. She is like no one else I know and her wedding was as beautiful as she is. She has struggled with her own body image issues for as long as I’ve known her and actually almost died as a result. If only she could see what I see. The one negative to my enjoying her wedding? The rumors that were suddenly going around that I slept with a guy I had been seen talking to at the wedding. We “disappeared for about an hour.” Actual event? We sat outside by the pool, in plain view of over fifteen people, and talked. When he left to go home, I stayed behind at the hotel with my friends. And when I went to the hotel bar afterwards, I was greeted with shouts of being a slut and having had sex with this guy. I certainly hope it was good but seeing as neither him nor I remember it, I’m guessing it wasn’t all that. I worked hard that night to prove to the people who mattered to me that it wasn’t true. The person saying it, no one cares what he thinks. But to those new people I met whom I did care about, it wasn’t easy to get them to open their minds to think that maybe I wasn’t that girl after all.
Society may give beautiful people some advantages. I’ll be honest though, I certainly haven’t gotten any award-winning, high paying job. I’ve worked incredibly hard for everything I have in my life. And what does society actually think about “pretty” women? Well they must be dumb, stuck-up, selfish and easy. That “skinny” girl who people hate so much because of her small frame? She cries every time she goes shopping for pants because NOTHING fits her right. She has to have every dress she ever buys altered and she has been trying to gain weight her whole life. I know some people are still rolling their eyes reading this because that’s what we’re supposed to think: skinny is good, beautiful and not-skinny is bad. Well, Marilyn Monroe was a size 14 ladies and gentleman.
The moral of my story? It’s as cliché as don’t judge a book by its cover. People are people. Looks come and go and some people have it and others don’t. But what someone looks like has nothing to do with who they are. Whether they are skinny, fat, tall, short, pretty or ugly. At some point, we are all going to wrinkle and shrink and succumb to gravity (already my ass sits about two inches lower than it did when I was 20.) What will remain the same? Our hearts. And that is where our beauty truly lies. Oh yea, and until then, if you got it…there is nothing wrong with flaunting it.
“When I walk in the spot This is what I see Everybody stops and they staring at me I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it I’m sexy and I know it” ~ Sexy and I Know It, LMFAO