Growing up, my sister and I were noticeably opposite of each other. She was very studious, read a lot of books and always got good grades in school. On the other hand, I was a blonde haired, blue-eyed little rascal who never did well in school and couldn’t care less. The idea of her being the “smart” one and me being the “pretty” one was always told to us by relatives, family friends and so on, but it wasn’t until years later that we separately realized the effect that sort of judgment had on the other sister. I grew up believing that because I was pretty, there was no way I could have be smart as well. My sister was being told she was the “smart” one making her always feel less than to me when it came to looks. The reality of the situation is that she is beautiful and I am not an idiot.
As I got older, I began to push this notion aside, challenging it in any way possible. Whether it was getting into the program in school that I wanted, having my writing published online, or graduating school with a GPA that not even I could have ever imagined. I worked harder to be more intelligent because of my looks rather than to compensate for them. Meanwhile, my sister was always hiding her beauty behind with her dorky t-shirts and glasses while out smarting any man that got in her way. In the end, the thought that these people had been putting in our heads was affecting us both just in extremely different ways.
Since I moved to Los Angeles, I’ve been asked many times what I want to do with my future, or rather why I chose to move to LA. When I reply that I am a writer, without a beat every person responds that I am too beautiful to not be on camera. While I appreciate the compliment, that’s not what I am here to do. This notion of my looks being all I have to get by in my life is always thrown in my face when the truth is that I don’t look at myself in the mirror and think I’m so pretty and perfect. I look in the mirror and think more along the lines of what the fuck is going on with my face and hair right now. I am insecure and anxious about everything, just as any person could be.
It continues to come up lately, you’re the pretty one, and sometimes it challenges me to work harder and continue to educate myself in any way possible, but there are other times that it devastates me into thinking I am not good enough nor will I ever be. Now more than ever I think about this question of whether or not a person can be both pretty and smart. It’s something that I have always wanted to challenge, to make people see me not just as a pretty face, to see me as the person inside the body. I want to be able to be seen for who am I and not what I look like because I believe if people got to know me, they’d see that my mind is an essential part of who I am.
As I continue to think about this, I know there are other people who struggle with the same problem or they struggle with the opposite side of the issue. They struggle with being told that they are smart and not beautiful. My sister once said, “high heels can’t unread all the books I’ve read” and with that we realized that we can overcome the obstacle at hand. As two very different people, we are both beautiful and smart in our own unique ways. You see, the whole time I was struggling with the idea of not being smart enough, my sister was struggling with the idea that she was not pretty enough. While I was always jealous of her smarts and success, she was jealous of my looks and confidence. Neither of us had noticed the effect that this thought was having on the other but the truth is that it was having negative effects on our overall lives. Pinning us against each other in silence until the issue was finally brought to life.
My whole life I grew up believing I was less than in comparison to my sister, I could and would never be as smart and talented as she was. I felt that no matter how hard I tried to be successful, it would never be enough. What I didn’t realize was that while I was hiding in the corner panicking about my future, she was hiding her true beauty behind these smarts that I was so jealous of. Equally detrimental to our confidence, this comment that was always told to us made us be jealous of the other sister without realizing what had made us feel this way.
I want all girls who struggle with either side of this thought to know that they can be both. It’s possible for the girl who gets straight A’s in school to also have a gorgeous face and great personality. Or that the stunning girl you met at the bar has an intelligent mind inside her head. As I continue to oppose this idea every time it comes up in my life, I hope that people can realize that I am not what I look like, and that no one should be judged by their looks. I may be pretty but I am also smart.