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My Problem With Pretty

Living in Los Angeles, I’m surrounded by “the beautiful people.”  La La Land is filled with insanely gorgeous women hoping to land either a job, or a man, based on her looks.

If you troll Instagram, you will immediately find a random ravishing Internet beauty dishing out filtered selfies. “Look at my new dress, check out the new MAC lip color, here’s my hair parted on the side…” We get it – you’re pretty.  I think about this obsession with physical beauty and wonder if it doesn’t stem from childhood.  Are we the ones to blame for creating a culture of women infatuated with appearance?

No matter where you live, every hood has that one girl who is just “sOooO” pretty. Since birth, everyone has constantly complimented her in amazement and adoration. “You’re so pretty. You’re beautiful. I can’t believe how gorgeous you are…” Before a girl can even read, she probably thinks “hi, you’re so pretty” is a standard greeting.

I was never that little girl. Growing up, I was a chubby-faced little girl with a lopsided, homemade haircut who wore hand-me-downs. That didn’t bother me. I was also smart, independent and loved to make others laugh. As I got older, my good grades and leadership helped to build my confidence, oblivious to the perils of being a short, skinny girl with braces and glasses. I was proud to be on the Honor Roll and Student Council and proud to be a 4-H Club officer.

My parents instilled in me the value of education, and I believed books, not looks, would be the ticket to my future. Because of this, I grew into a woman proud of brains and not dependent on beauty. Eventually, the braces and glasses came off. The summer before I went to college, I grew four inches and my body finally hit puberty.  I now had the physical chops to add to my resume. Although everyone around me noticed the changes, I wasn’t fazed by my 'Ugly Duckling' come up. By then, I was driven to get a good education and develop a career path to provide for myself.

There’s nothing wrong with being pretty. My thing is that we should allow young girls to appreciate and strive for attributes outside of physical beauty. Just because one is pretty, doesn’t mean she can’t strive to excel at something else, whether it's sports, academics, arts, philanthropy, etc.

My problem with pretty is that when you are dependent upon your looks, what happens when your pretty is gone? What happens when you don’t feel pretty enough, or your beauty can’t get you what you want? What else do you have to offer? Pulchritudinous beauty can almost be a curse.  Is it really your fault that every time you meet someone, the first thing they comment on is your looks?

How can a small child grow to value work ethic and achievement when the world just seems to reward her for her divine appearance? It makes me wonder how much society contributes to little girls growing up with self-esteem issues.  From almost birth, girls are instantaneously given accolades for physical beauty and surrounded by images of women deemed acceptable based on hair and makeup. I’ve really taken notice to this and try to take a different approach. Now, when I meet a little girl, instead of instantly telling her how pretty she is, I try to say something like, “I hear you’re doing well in school” or, “You have such nice manners.”

Self-image and self-esteem are such big issues for women today, and it starts at a young age.  Beauty should be an added asset, not a necessity for acceptance. If we raise young girls to value their inner worth, it will eventually radiate into physical beauty.

Photo courtesy Tumblr 

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