Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Sadly, my Crohn’s disease has started becoming active again, and the pre-symptoms are hellish. Fatigue, anxiety, depression, joint pain, etc. Now I’m moving into the active phase and get fun things like nausea, vomiting, and esophageal spasms (OUCH) and abdominal pain. Anyway, what I’m saying is: I’m sorry I’ve been absent, I’m just so tired.
Regardless, today I want to talk to you about something that I’ve been stewing over for a few days. It’s one of my biggest hurdles to TRULY accepting my body, and maybe it is for you too. I have an overwhelming need to be pretty. Call it what you want: Attractive, sexy, fuckable, desirable, hot…. I have a need to be seen this way in order to feel worthwhile as a woman. I’m in a happy, loving relationship, and I’m not looking AT ALL. My husband finds me to be all of those things, in my jammies, no make-up and food on my shirt. Yet this feeling persists.
Now, if you, dear reader, came to me expressing these feelings I would jump to tell you that your worth has nothing to do with how attractive other people find you, that your worth is so much more than the judgement of your outer shell, that you are a complete, amazing person who has worth, and value, and so much to give to this world!!
But I can’t seem to say that to myself. If I go to work feeling, well, less than cute, I’m down all day and self-conscious. When I was a kid, and I wore something that I felt was too tight or too short, I would get a stomach ache until I could change. I was mortified someone might think I wasn’t cute. As an adult I still get that same stomach ache when I don’t feel really put together/sexy/desirable etc.
Logically I understand that the way I dress my body, the way I do my hair, the way I put on my eyeliner have literally nothing to do with my worthiness as a woman. So where does this come from?
I’m not 100% sure, but I know a lot of it has to do with my own insecurities with men (I don’t feel this way around women even though I identify as pansexual) and my deep-seated need to be liked. Both of these issues come from my childhood. My dad passed away when I was 2, and my mom didn’t remarry. She didn’t even date until I was 18. Lack of a father figure, and growing up in an incredibly patriarchal church and community, gave me this almost god-like view of adult men. They held the power, and their approval of me was incredibly important. I craved male attention from a young age, and loved my male teachers for this reason. I was good at school and this gave me a big dose of Man-in-charge approval that I sought.
As for needing to be liked, that might just be my personality type. I’ve always been afraid of conflict, and prefer being liked. Combine that with my need of male approval, and as I became a woman, that need shifted from “Be good at being a kid” to “Be good at being a woman.”
In our society, being a good woman means being feminine, soft, small, passive, gentle, quiet and most of all – sexually attractive.
I know this is a long post about my own fucked up brain and why I feel the need to please the male eye, but in unravelling all of these issues, I figured I can’t be the only woman that feels this way. I can’t be the only woman who is fighting to love her imperfect body, and keeps hitting the wall when it comes to letting go of pretty.
Don’t get me wrong, a perfect state for me does not include never dressing up or doing make-up. I don’t see anything wrong with those things, and I LOVE them. I LOVE wearing make-up and dresses and sparkly things. What I’m looking for, is to not feel like worthless shit when I choose NOT to do those things. I want to feel comfortable going to the store without make-up on. I want to feel comfortable at work in a really easy outfit that doesn’t hide my fat as well as others. I want to give up “flattering” and wear what I love.
And this is what I’m working on going forward. I am a worthwhile human being, regardless of my fuckability (I know that’s not a word but it should be). I am beautiful no matter how that guy who passed me feels about my jiggly belly. I am amazing.
And so are you.
5 thoughts on “Screw “Pretty””
I struggle with this as well. Add to that the extra “burden” of being fat, if you aren’t totally put together, you’re seen as a slob. My house actually burned down a few months ago, and I went to work in the what I had on when the fire started at 4:30 AM. No makeup, glasses and my hair tied up. I felt SO uncomfortable all day. Not because, you know, house fire and losing all of my belongings but because I looked so unkempt. It’s a daily struggle and something I’m working on. Thank you for addressing this kind of thing. I love your blog and Instagram!
Wow thank you so much for the compliment! I know exactly how you feel! Fat and unkept means looking like a slob. Or worry one someone will take a pic of you and you’ll end up on people of Walmart or something. Those sites make it even harder to let go of being put together all the time!
I just discovered your blog and want to say thank you. Thank you for being the voice I need to hear right now. I’ve been body-positive for a decade or more now…but lately with two young kids, new health problems, and no money (for new clothes, haircuts, exercise that makes me feel strong and good…) I have been feeling the Not Pretty. And it hurts because I kind of thought I was past this. But reading this I realize it’s always a process, there are always bad days…and most importantly, I am not alone. Thank you.
I’m so glad you found me! I am also glad my words have helped you. It’s a constant process, and new hurdles and challenges appear daily.
I’ve written a few blogs on this very subject. I was raised in the same community and state as you, and I ‘get’ it. However something does puzzle me…from the photo of you as an adult (without makeup etc etc)…I would say you aren’t “fat” at all, but you do look healthy. In my opinion, the cause of our (women) need to be attractive to men stems from media exposure. On TV, in magazines, in books and stores and on billboards and everywhere – the women are portrayed as thin, big chested, pretty or beautiful, flawless hair and skin and a buncha other crap that bears little resemblance to reality. Me? I’m too old to buy into it any longer and I prescribe to the school of thought: those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. Works for me.
Shameless plug for my blog (a couple of the posts about this idea of ‘pretty’ versus unlovely: