He calls me beautiful when I have my hair tied back because I was too lazy to take the curling iron to it. He calls me beautiful when I step out of the shower with razor burn and without any makeup on. He calls me beautiful when I’m wearing thick, flannel pajama pants and a tank top that should have been in the laundry days earlier.
I shake my head every time he does it. Even after all of the compliments he has given me since we have met, I struggle to believe the word pretty could be used to describe me. I look in the mirror and see someone with flaws. A forehead that’s too big. A nose that’s too big. Boobs that are too small. An ass that is too small. Like Goldilocks, it’s always that way. Too big or too small. Never juuust right.
I will never feel right, not even on the days when I actually put effort into my appearance. I will spend forty minutes doing my makeup (twenty of those minutes concealing and reapplying my eyeliner until the wings match). When I finish, I might look okay. I might smile back at my reflection because, for once, I don’t feel like a total and complete mess.
But when he watches my emergence from the bathroom, when his smile widens until teeth show and he tells me how beautiful I look, I will still refuse the compliment. I will pick out the one thing wrong with my appearance. Maybe my bangs are overgrown. Maybe my dress is wrinkled. Maybe my stomach is bloated. I will pluck any insult from that little voice in my mind in order to make myself feel like shit again, because the idea of feeling beautiful makes me uncomfortable.
I am used to hating myself. I am used to considering myself ugly. I grew up that way. I look completely different now that I did back in high school but my brain hasn’t come to terms with that yet. I feel the same. I feel unattractive and unlovable, even though he swears I am the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen.
I have heard him use the word beautiful hundreds of times but it will never fully sink into my brain. I will always pingpong the compliment away before I let myself believe it.
I never learned how to look in the mirror and feel satisfied with what I saw staring back at me. I only know how to criticize, to condemn, to complain.
Even though I have trouble accepting the idea of someone else considering me pretty, I am glad he hasn’t stopped saying it. I’m glad he is so adamant about having me see myself the way he sees me. I appreciate every kind word that comes from his lips to my ears or his fingertips to my phone. I am thankful I have someone to remind me that I am not as worthless as I sometimes feel.