Do you consider yourself to be pretty or beautiful? I know that at first glance this question appears to be self indulging. It may even make the lady in us shy away from answering it, but Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton, shifted my perspective on this. Regardless of whether we want to answer it or not, the world around us has no problem answering it for us. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone around us knows there’s a definite difference between pretty and beautiful.
Since birth, most girls are dressed in ruffles and lace, with pretty pink bows in our hair, so that we’re wrapped up in a pretty package for all to admire. And as long as the ruffles and lace keep coming, and we mind our manners, the admiration continues.
However, once we’re allowed to roam the outside world, we realize that society’s definition of pretty can be all consuming, as we begin to feel the weight of the responsibility. Whether we like it or not, pretty means that you can never gain weight, age, have bad skin, walk out of the house without makeup, or wear anything that isn’t considered fashionable. Just look at the way celebrities are scrutinized if they appear to have gained weight, or are seen looking less than their glamorous selves. While they are definitely scrutinized on a larger scale, that level of scrutinization has made it’s way into how we value ourselves and others in our daily lives.
This of course is not to say that men don’t have their own societal pressures, but their predetermined P for Provider is harder to gauge than our P in Pretty. Marketers have definitely picked up on this, which is why there’s always a new product or company willing to help us lose weight, stay young, be fashionable, etc. It’s this continuous bombardment to be pretty that leaves women feeling less than because a lot of its requirements go against the natural process of life. From the time we transition from girlhood to womanhood, many of us begin to experience problem skin and weight gain. That’s when we begin to feel the world shift. We begin to realize that pretty pink bows, ruffles, and lace aren’t going to be enough to keep us in with the pretty crowd. So in our efforts to get back in, we begin to hate everything about ourselves and turn to the outside world for answers. We try the latest diet, potions and lotions, etc. that promise to get us back in with the pretty people we see in ads, on social media, and on TV. And while some of us manage to get it together enough to get back in with the pretty crowd, most of us just end up feeling like failures because we just can’t. So we sit in wait for the next thing that promises to make us pretty again.
FIW…I’m exhausted just thinking of everything we do to stay pretty.
But, what if instead of allowing these outside forces to distract us from doing the work to find out who we really are, what we really value, and what we really want, we just let go of the responsibility of trying to fit in and embrace who we are right now? What if we learned to love our perfectly, imperfect flawed selves, regardless of whether we’re at our ideal weight, or looking as young as we feel? Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying let yourself go and stop worrying about your health, or worrying about finding the perfect outfit, haircut, or makeup. I’m definitely not stopping my own desire to look good or my journey toward a healthier me. All I’m saying is that instead of putting all our energy into trying to keep up with the perfect, pretty Joneses, that we take some time to get to know and love ourselves. To find out what brings joy, happiness, love, and overall positivity into our daily life.
It’s this positivity, lightness, and general sense of gratitude that makes it easier for us to offer it up to those around us. As someone who’s been on this journey, I have to admit, it’s a great place to be. I also realize that sadness, loss, deteriorating health, etc. can keep you from being in this place 24/7, because that’s exactly what happened to me last year. The beauty of this process is that every breath is a new opportunity to stop and think about being compassionate, kind, and loving to yourself and everyone that crosses your path. It’s this conscious awareness of the energy we radiate onto ourselves and to the world, that takes us beyond just being pretty, to being beautiful.
That’s why beautiful people always manage to catch our attention, regardless of what they look like, dress like, etc. Their confidence, welcoming spirit, and bountiful love shines as they take time with everyone that comes into their light. And the interaction can be as simple as a brief warm smile or touch, or it can be as deep as a soul to soul conversation. The beauty of it all is that being in the company of a beautiful being is all encompassing. You get filled because you are actually being seen and heard, and they get filled because they have allowed themselves to gift that to you. A win, win I tell ya. So why not begin diversifying your pretty portfolio before your stock begins to plummet with age, and choose to add positivity, kindness, compassion, and love to become a beautiful person, inside and out?
How are you diversifying your pretty portfolio toward your beautiful self?