I’ve been typing and re-typing this article for an hour now.
I’m not a “pretty” girl.
But who cares?
I don’t have straight hair and a skinny waist. I don’t look like the girls on Instagram selling fit tea and I don’t have start-up companies asking me to model their clothing. I don’t have a delicate tinkling laugh and I don’t bat my eyelashes at boys.
But who cares?
I’ve always felt at odds with the concept of beauty, especially physical beauty. From young adolescence, it was blatantly obvious to me that my soft belly and muscular thighs didn’t fit in. It’s human nature to want love and acceptance, to seek community and want to fit in, and the one thing that garnered my acceptance – my appearance – was lacking.
It bothers me. It still bothers me. It still makes me think that I am less than somehow because I don’t fit into the category of “pretty” girl. Sometimes, I can escape it, but I am consistently reminded of why I am “less than” because I don’t look like the girls posting their workout routines on social media or wearing crop tops to the club.
It seems like this all boils down to one thing: social media with a dash of low self-esteem.
But it’s much more than that. It’s something much larger than me, and the other women who experience the same feelings.
It’s the consistent diminishment of women to only physicality that we are constantly bombarded with every damn day and every damn hour. It’s the consistent reinforcement of beliefs that women should fit into a tightly wrapped box with no exceptions.
It’s the competition, especially between women, to be the most “wanted.” To get the most “DMs” or “likes” on social media. It’s the constant battle to prove our worth, especially through the attention of men.
It’s the notion that you can only love yourself if others do too. It’s the toxic habits and patterns that die so hard that make you convince yourself that your only purpose here on this earth is to be pretty, to be an object.
Whenever I feel down and out because I can’t keep my hair straight for more than an hour, because I’m not posting my fitness routine on Instagram or because I can’t wear most “popular” fashion trends because my hips are too thick, I remind myself this:
There’s fire in my stomach. There’s lightning in my thighs. There’s electric in my eyes.
I am a home. A woman. A human. A caretaker, a friend, a lover, a sister, a daughter.
I am an explosion of color and the soft sigh after a kiss. I am a hurricane and a warm spring morning. I am words and thoughts. Grief and joy. Anger and compassion.
I am every woman, starving herself to fit in or eating too much to drown the feelings.
I am every woman prodding and poking and picking at her beautiful, sweet body because someone convinced her that it wasn’t worth.
I wasn’t born to be pretty, and neither were you. I wasn’t born to make others comfortable, and I wasn’t born to be comfortable here either.