“Suffer to be Beautiful”
If there was one thing I remember from growing up, it was this saying.
Mostly, because my mom would say it as she brushed through my knotty, tangled hair.
It made sense.
Detangling knotty hair. Waxing your eyebrows. Getting cuts from shaving your legs. Running that extra mile on the treadmill.
By age 15, I fully understood what my mom was talking about all those years.
Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until recently that I began to rethink this old and familiar saying.
When I was little, I wasn’t pretty.
I was adventurous, brave, and daring.
I spend the majority of my days playing in the mud and creating imaginary worlds.
I was wild, creative, and a little bit of a tom boy.
I loved every minute of it.
When I was little, I acted in my community theater.
I was a performer and I was funny.
It wasn’t until I entered middle school, that I became pretty.
I played softball.
I wasn’t the best on the team, but I was pretty.
I didn’t play a lot.
But when I did, I was encouraged to give a princess wave to our team’s fans.
I had a pink glove. What else would a pretty girl have?
I was never mad I didn’t get to play.
I knew my place.
I was the pretty one.
In high school I was pretty.
I didn’t get amazing grades or even try very hard.
But, no one really expected me too.
I was a cheerleader.
That wasn’t always pretty. My junior year, I was voted Captain.
At that moment, I wasn’t pretty.
I was a leader.
But don’t you worry, I became pretty again soon after that.
The end of senior year was a turning point for me.
For a while, I stopped being pretty.
I got accepted to an amazing college.
I was a high school graduate.
And I was in love.
I had always lived in the shadow of pretty.
And for a while, I thought I had escaped it.
For the first two years of college I was living in a fool’s paradise.
The other day this glass shattered right in front of me.
The truth was revealed.
My relationship was built on pretty. If we looked pretty, went to pretty places, and took pretty pictures that meant everything was okay.
My job was even based on pretty. Sure, I looked good on paper, but I looked prettier than the other candidate, too. Guess who got the job.
Then this thought crossed my mind: the only award I’ve ever received was for being best dressed.
I was pretty and it was greatest accomplishment.
The problem with pretty is that it limits you.
The problem with pretty is that it traps you.
The problem with pretty is it makes you settle.
The problem with pretty is that it defines you.
Suffer to be beautiful.
I had to make a choice.
I stopped being pretty and started being me.
I wasn’t pretty when I ended my relationship.
I was strong.
I wasn’t pretty when I applied for the summer internship of my dreams.
I was smart.
But, don’t worry.
Next time you see me and tell me I look pretty,
I’ll graciously accept your compliment.
Because I am pretty.
But, I’m so much more.