Shaney Irene

On Faith, Life, and Being the Church

Because “I’m Not Pretty” Came Too Easily

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It started with a question.

If I could be in the remake of any movie, my boyfriend had asked me, which movie would I choose?

Not sure of what my final answer would be, I started throwing out ideas. Fantastic Four definitely needs a remake, but I don’t think I could play Sue Storm very well. I could be in the remake of Mean Girls, but not as Cady. I can’t do sweet and innocent convincingly. I could be Janice, the goth girl (maybe), or maybe even Regina George.

“No, not Regina George, I’m not pretty, so I couldn’t play that part…”

The look on my boyfriend’s face was enough to make me stop.

“Well, I’m not pretty in the way that popular girls are pretty.”

Later, I started wondering, “What defines the way that popular girls are pretty?”

And I thought back to the four-way call scene, where Regina says that Karen should have been nominated for spring fling queen because Karen is pretty and Gretchen is not. I started thinking, “Why is Karen pretty? Gretchen has beautiful eyes, hair, and skin color. Karen is so pale and looks like a blank canvas…”

The next though was “What the h*ll am I doing?”

I felt awful. I knew that I was taking what God had wonderfully made and judging it based on some arbitrary standard that I had decided was “pretty.” I was tearing the actress down, and why? To make myself feel better?

Thing is, that’s exactly what I was doing. Trying to make myself feel better. The reason that “I’m not pretty” had rolled off my tongue so easily earlier is because I believed it.

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Growing up, I was told by many people that I was pretty, but it wasn’t a common occurrence, either. For the most part, I’m glad for this. Overall, I’m a very self-confident person, because I learned to take a healthy pride in my skills and accomplishments, and not base my confidence in how I looked.

But yet, that one moment still sticks in my head, still haunts me.

The moment when two of my guy friends said right in front of me, not in so many words but very clearly in meaning, that I wasn’t pretty.

It’s the only incident I can remember, ever, being told I wasn’t pretty. All other comments I have in my memory about how I look are very positive.

So it’s scary how, when the memory of this moment and the memory of my boyfriend telling me “You are beautiful,” clash inside my head, the negative memory wins out and “I’m not pretty” slips right off the tongue with no hesitation on my part.

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It’s really easy for me to talk about recognizing beauty when I am talking about other women. It’s not difficult for me to say that every woman is beautiful because God uniquely designed her with features unlike anyone else, and that we need to train ourselves to recognize that. It’s easy for me to say that women are beautiful based on so much more than the virtue of being female. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to have written this post about how having an attitude of “everyone is beautiful” without making the effort to recognize individual beauty sends the message that no is really beautiful.

But when it’s about me, it’s suddenly not so easy anymore.

When it’s just me alone with myself, I can easily become like this classic Mean Girls clip.

This isn’t what I want. I want to be an uplifting influence to the women around me. I want to remind them that the are all uniquely beautiful. I want to raise my daughters to be confident because they know that God designed them.

But I wonder if I can ever help others believe they are beautiful when my language betrays that I don’t believe it about myself.

So I’ve realized that I need to do better. I need to celebrate the unique beauty of the women in my life, including myself. I need to speak against the lies that are told, including the ones I tell myself. I need to remind myself that being a girl isn’t easy, that other girls need me to support them and I need them to support me–and trying to label who’s pretty and who’s not only tears down, it doesn’t uplift.

And I also need to remember Cady Heron’s famous words:

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier.

Does your view of yourself ever affect how you think of others? How do you avoid negative self-talk? 

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One thought on “Because “I’m Not Pretty” Came Too Easily

  1. Pingback: Links for Learning, October 20 « Shaney Irene

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