When a girl is no longer afraid to be ugly, she is liberated.
In high school, the thought of going to school or any social event without a full face of makeup was unfathomable. Everything from the shoes I was wearing to every strand of hair on my head had to be perfect. Between classes, I was constantly touching up my makeup or hair, making sure I still looked passable. Even when I was just hanging out with girlfriends, I was desperate to have perfect makeup and hair.
“You don’t have to be pretty all the time,” I remember my mom saying, exasperated because I was taking too long to do my makeup before school.
I wasn’t obsessed with being pretty, however—I was obsessed with not being ugly.
Now, I’ve notice little changes in myself, like how I don’t sit up straight all the time to prevent rolls on my stomach anymore, how I’m very liberal about who I send double-chin Snapchats to, how I’ll show my face in public for longer than necessary after going to the gym. Now that I’m no longer afraid to be ugly, I feel a huge weight off my chest.
In our society, the terms “ugly” or “fat” are especially troubling for any person struggling with issues of low self-esteem. Perhaps it’s because of the sexualization of women in the media or the outstanding growth of the porn industry, but girls really value their appearance, especially at a high school age. As I’m sure we’ve heard many times before, however, we are more than just our appearance. Truly believing that will set you free.
There is no need to add, “Sorry I look like a mess,” to your on-the-way texts. Looking like your most natural self isn’t a mess. It’s you and it’s okay. You don’t need to provide an explanation to anyone. Stop stressing out over your breakouts, which will just lead to more breakouts. Stop forcing yourself to wear heavy, sticky makeup if you hate the way it feels on your face.
Everyone has bags under their eyes, rolls on their stomachs when they slouch, chipped nails, and acne. It’s all normal. If you learn to accept your normal self, you’ll learn to appreciate the best qualities of your personality that don’t center around your appearance. These qualities comprise the purest form of yourself. Your weight, or your hair, or the color of your lipstick are not you.
You don’t owe anything to anyone—you don’t have to be pretty for anyone. The function of your existence is more than being something pretty to look at. So, by all means, look pretty, but don’t think you aren’t just as great of a person if you don’t. By looking like “a mess,” you’re not offending anyone. Trust me, no one will notice, let alone care, if you aren’t wearing makeup or if you’re waiting in the omelette line in your sweatpants on a Sunday morning. The people that really matter in your life are those who value your beliefs, your sense of humor, and your kindness.
For example, Cady in the movie Mean Girls escapes the mentality that her new physically-obsessed friends forced her into. After recognizing that true beauty doesn’t come from your weight or what shoes you wear, she became a healthier and happier person. Another example is Emma Watson, who is arguably one of the most beautiful celebrities. Rather than preoccupying herself over maintaining her beauty by participating in fad diets, she uses her celebrity to campaign for feminism.
By ceasing to worry about how pretty you look all the time, you can focus on your more important attributes. You will be able to laugh loudly and freely without worrying about whether it sounds cute. You won’t be afraid of making that funny face. Yes, looking amazing feels great, and putting effort into your morning routine can be very beneficial. When it becomes a negative part of your life, however, it’s time to step back and prioritize. Being the incredible person you are far outweighs any type of physical characteristic you might concern yourself with.
Perceiving ourselves as purely physical can be dangerous to our self-esteem and can detract from our everyday life. We must relinquish ourselves from the restraints of physical beauty. Despite what society pressures us to think, there is nothing wrong with being ugly. It does not detract from your value as a person. Allowing ourselves to be liberated from the physical expectations we set for ourselves can save us time and, more importantly, stress.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphcis