When I was in high school, I would look around at my friends and there was always a glaring difference between us. They were considered pretty: I was not. They were thin, petite girls with thick, blonde hair and skin just the right shade of ivory. The world told me over and over again that they were what I should aspire to look like. It told me I was wrong because I didn’t look a certain way.
The world wanted me to hate myself. Yet, when I looked in the mirror, I loved what I saw.
My body isn’t a prototype and it hasn’t been adjusted to fit any mold.
Freckles dance across my face. There’s scars on my legs from the time the elliptical got the better of me. I’m not skinny, but I am strong. My legs are too long and my torso is too short. My hair is dyed just the shade of brown I like it and I have to wear glasses or contacts to see two feet in front of me.
Needless to say, I’m not going to be on the cover of a magazine any time soon.
But there’s a bigger question here: Why do we aspire to be pretty? There a thousand other things I would rather be called then pretty. I want people to look at me and say, “She’s so smart,” or, “Look at her determination”. I want people to recognize me for the things I worked for and accomplished, rather than what my genetics gave me. I am more than what I look like and I know we say this all the time, but we need to start meaning it.
For the little girls out there, destroying their bodies because they believe they aren’t beautiful, listen to me. First of all, beauty is not one, concrete thing. Flowers are beautiful, but so are Christmas lights. It’s all in the eye of the beholder and so many people will find you beautiful. And secondly, let people love you because of the things you do and the way you touch the world. Real love and love that stems from lust are two very different things, and yes, one is superior to the other.
Placing outer beauty above inner beauty can be traced back to the Greeks. I guess you could say it’s part of the human condition. We all know the story of Achilles; the war hero who died after being shot in the heel with an arrow, but most of us haven’t read The Illiad ourselves. In the book, Achilles is described as beautiful; with golden hair, glowing skin, and piercing eyes. Sound familiar yet? And I guarantee even fewer people know about Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend. Let me lay it down for you: Patroclus dressed up in Achilles armor and went off to fight in a battle he knew he would die in to buy Achilles enough time to win the whole Trojan War. Patroclus was the hero of the story and Achilles was the pretty face. But who do we remember?
I guess you could say being pretty has its perks. For Achilles and most modern celebrities, it got them fame. But adoring crowds only last so long. What happens when their beauty fades? I’m sorry but it’s just a fact; you can’t be pretty forever. That being said, we should be encouraging others to be beautiful people inside more-so than outside. And yet, we don’t. Society is messed up, but it’s standards of beauty and what happens to you when you don’t fit that mold is downright criminal.
I want to be the Patroclus of my story; not the Achilles.
I want to look like me, not anyone else.
Because whether you believe it or not, I am beautiful.