At work one day, my co-worker and I were in a conversation.
I think we were talking about looking at photos of yourself, or something that makes people not like themselves and be a hater for a moment... you know that convo.
These words fell out of my mouth with ease... "I don't think I'm pretty."
With confusion, my co-worker said what?
To me, this made perfect sense... but once I heard myself say it out loud to someone else... I could understand how this might be odd, sound self deprecating, or even looking for some type of woe-is-me attention.
But I knew it deep down, I wasn't lying or looking.
I told her... "I gave up the pretty game a long time ago."
The Pretty Game:
Let's take it back a little bit.
I was raised in a family that getting food on the table was the most important thing in the world. Keeping the lights, heat, and gas on... very important. Going to school, learning... important. Just getting through the day... important.
Pretty? Not going to pay the bills so.... really really not important.
We didn't have the money for pretty... pretty much.
The right shoes, the right car, the right anything in the world of things cost money.
Once in high school... we didn't have cheerleaders... I was in performing arts school. No Saved by the Bell/90210 stereotype of pretty walking around. We had kids with messy hair from dance class, actors who were crying on the stage, goth kids in the art department who's skin never saw the light of day.
We weren't trying to date each other... the only wood anyone was putting to their mouth in sexual exploration was a woodwind.
We were the weirdos, the outcast, and we liked it.
When you gotta be at the bus stop at 6am... pretty gets thrown out the window.
Cut to life as a dancer in Las Vegas. Young adult me.
I got the part because I was actually good, and a hard worker, and not trying to fuck the castmates or the crew.
People liked this about me.
I was there for my gig. To make the money to do the things I was raised to do. Pay my bills.
But Vegas started to let me know something really really really fast.
You are not what we think Pretty is.
"You're cute Lauren." I was told.
Ok. I'm cute.
"You're so smart Lauren."
Ok. I'm smart.
"You're a great dancer."
So these were my traits. Cute, Smart, and could Get the Job done.
I wasn't enhanced, I didn't wear fake hair, my nails were mine, and I still had the same nose since birth.
Which is a lot of what the Vegas look can be. Change everything that makes you you.
Then nightlife let me know how basic I am.
I didn't have an ethnic background, I didn't have a sleeve of tattoos, and I didn't have a DJ boyfriend.
So now I'm cute and basic. And apparently really really boring haha.
Move to LA. I decided to ditch a few of the Vegas traits I had picked up. Over bleached hair was one of them. So I grew my natural blonde hair long.
Well... if I wasn't under the impression before... now I had to tie my worth to the thing growing out of my head. (I was once told I'd never be pretty without my hair... ok thanks.)
I was actually dating a guy when I was told by my reps that I should dye my hair darker because I am more of a serious type and no one would ever believe me as the girl next door or ingenue.
You know what happened?
Two things... I wasn't allowed to be me. The golden haired girl who was cute, smart, and got the job done. No, only brunettes are serious types. Blondes well... insert your own joke here.
And the second thing... I showed up to my future ex boyfriends home and he said "wow now you look like everyone else."
So not only is he not getting laid, now I'm LA basic as well.
WHAT DO YOU DO????????
Thankfully from years of dancing, no one has ever said a thing to me about my weight... but apparently on camera my "pores are too big".
My pores. Not my ass, or my nose, or my thighs... the skin that breathes and lays on my face.... is too big????!!!!
Why do I share all this... why did I look at my co worker and allow the words "I don't think I'm pretty" to roll out of my mouth... why are my pores too big... and why did I ever date that guy in the first place....
I realized something... after exhausting all the other options...
Pretty is a game that once you start to play it... you've already lost.
I was losing at life because I allowed the opinions of others to shape the way I saw myself.
The Pretty Game + Others Opinions = Sad Lauren.
(Side note: I did keep the darker hair for years, because I liked it. A lot of people did not... but that was step one in stop playing this game with everyone else.)
Pretty is what keeps you from not stepping outside because you don't have the right clothes, or nose, or hair, or eyebrows.
Pretty is what makes you feel like you are not enough as you are... you need to make yourself pretty to be seen.
Pretty is what gets you under a knife, or on the scale, or pinching the sides of your stomach, or comparing on social media who has more followers, and out at the store charging more money that you don't have to impress more people that you don't know.
Pretty is what makes you cry when the asshole moves on to another girl who didn't dye her hair dark. (Not what happened... but you get it.)
Listen.... I don't hate curling my hair and finding the right outfit. I don't hate plastic surgery, or people who need to change their look. I don't hate a gorgeous night out with friends and everyone wanting to look their best.
I do hate (yes I will use the word hate), is when you think you need it to be the best version of you. When you think you can't have love because you haven't done your make up right. When you think in order to ever be ENOUGH you have to look a certain way.
I don't want to be pretty. Pretty has landed me with assholes who never wanted to get to know me. Pretty has led my friends to the toilet with an eating disorder. Pretty has made me think I wasn't going to get the job because this girl next to me is gonna have smaller pores on camera cause she for sure doesn't have an Italian ancestor.
Pretty has landed me in a lot of pretty bad circumstances. And at those moments I really really really wished that no one even saw me at all.
You've seen the memes. I'll say it again.
Let's get pretty smart, pretty nice, pretty kind.
Let's get pretty interested in something we don't know. Pretty generous with our words. Pretty aware of the space around us.
Let's get out of the mirror and into the world with our favorite T-Shirt on and a best friend and ask what else is there.
So in the matter of Pretty as in beauty, appearance, ideas of self... FUCK PRETTY.
Cause I'm not Pretty.
Cause pretty has taken me Pretty Far away from the person I was meant to be... ME.
I hope you understand now... co worker.
All my love to you all,