Monday, April 23, 2012

U is for Unpretty

Mother always said I'd be very attractive
When I grew up, when I grew up.
"Different" she said, "With a special something
And a very, very personal flair."

"Different" is nice, but it sure isn't pretty
Pretty is what it's about.
I never met anyone who was "different"
Who couldn't figure that out.
So beautiful, I'd never live to see.

The above are lyrics from the song "At The Ballet" from A Chorus Line and ever since I first saw the movie (no, I've never seen it on stage), these lyrics pierced me through the heart because it conveyed exactly how I felt, and the words have stuck with me after 27 years. 

I have never in my entire life felt pretty.  I don't ever remember being told I was pretty growing up and I thought (part of still thinks) the reason I never had a boyfriend in school and have remained single is because I am not pretty.

I understand that some of you might be thinking that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  While that can be true, there are also some realities.  Reality: attractive people make more money. Reality: teachers call on attractive students more and deem them smarter. Reality: in movies and TV good things generally tend to happen to the attractive characters while bad things happen to the unattractive ones. We live in a superficial society where the standards of beauty are narrow indeed. Or that's the way it feels when one is on the outside of pretty.

However, I am trying to take my power back. I have gained much strength and a bit of calmness about things from this video: Katie Makkai - Pretty. It brings me to tears every single time I watch it, but it helps me feel less alone in my unpretty world and helps me to see that this is something that a lot of us struggle with. I'm not sure I'll ever conquer this feeing of being unpretty. I hope I can. I hope I can be confident in who I am and accept that perhaps everyone (me included) is really beautiful in her own way. I see it in others. I just struggle to see it within myself.


  1. I never felt particularly pretty either. I was too tall, had frizzy hair and freckles. I didn't date in high school and my low self esteem made dating in my early 20's a nightmare. If someone liked me, I thought that's all that mattered. Never did I think, well do I like them?
    Yes, our society is geared towards what the media moguls deem as attractive and it's constantly changing. I don't think you're "unpretty." You have great hair, sparkly eyes and a winning smile. But, I could praise you all day long, but it won't matter until you believe it yourself. It wasn't till I was in my thirties that I took out pictures of myself and said, I was pretty cute back then. Why was I so hard on myself?
    Be gentle with yourself. And if you want to read a wonderful book about accepting your fabulousness that doesn't conform to society's standards, it's called "Read my Hips" by Kim Brittingham.

  2. I've never felt 'pretty' either. Mary is a really cool name. :) But I think your photo is beautiful. I think we need to learn to redefine what pretty is.

  3. The Eric Clapton song with the line "darling, you look wonderful tonight" always makes me cry because I wish someone would say that to me, mean it, and have me believe it's true. I hear you.

  4. Society is SO messed up to put such confining bounds on what they think is pretty and what isn't. Can't wait for Heaven!

    A to Z co-host


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