Please, Don't Call Me Pretty

Please, Don't Call Me Pretty

Because I'm so much more than that.

Of all the things there are to be called in this world, "pretty" seems to be the go-to compliment towards women. Almost nobody understands why I hate that word. I don't want to be called pretty because there's so much more that. I'm smart and funny and talented. I want to be told that someone likes the way I think or that I'm good at telling stories. I don't want a man thinking I'm cute before he knows what makes me laugh and I don't want to be called beautiful before I'm able to have an intellectually stimulating discussion. There's such a pressure and desire for young women to want to be beautiful that we're forgetting to want to be anything else.

For some reason, so many girls simply aspire to be beautiful. From an early age, we're taught to play dress up and play with makeup and other products deemed "feminine." Girls grow up wanting to be princesses, but settle for second best as a trophy wife. If we don't feel beautiful, we feel worthless, because beauty and excellence go hand-in-hand. We're stuck fighting this unrealistic beauty standard each and every day set by the world around us. Beautiful is what we're striving to be. Not interesting, or charming or nice, just beautiful - that's all. And what is beauty going to get us, exactly? Someone maybe mildly interesting to find us attractive for a little while? A drink or two at a dive bar? While there are so many things we can be doing with our skills and knowledge, we're worried about the way we look. We're not going to cure cancer if we're too worried about flyaway hairs.

You see, society has women constantly wanting validation that they're beautiful. So much so, that we only compliment her appearance, not her quirky sense of humor or take charge attitude. And I've heard far too many times the phrase, "ugly but nice," as if they're mutually exclusive. As if to be a decent person you have to look good as well. Often times, if we find a person unattractive, we're actually less inclined to socialize with them, as if only pretty people are worth our time. Is it because we just don't notice them, or because we subconsciously only want to surround ourselves with "pretty people?" Instead of talking about how great of a leader a woman is, we're talking about her outfit (cough, cough, the 2016 presidential election). Everyday Feminism writer, Erin Tatum, reminds us, "Every women's identity extends so far beyond the superficial, and they deserve for others to start recognizing that." Basically, beauty is only skin deep, so dig a little deeper, because women are people with thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Rupi Kaur, writer of milk and honey summed it up in just a few lines...

And she's absolutely right. As a woman, you are so much more than that. Women are the most exquisitely strong creatures on this planet, yet for some reason, we're reduced to "pretty," "beautiful," "hot," and other adjectives to describe our physical attributes. SO many people will try to say "beauty is only skin deep," but Societal values have put such a pressure on us to look a certain way that none of us are really focusing on what we should be - ourselves, who we actually are; not what we see in the mirror.

Beauty is completely irrelevant; compliment someone's confidence, enthusiasm, or work ethic. Not only is it demeaning, but beauty is a predictable compliment as well. This isn't to say to never accept a compliment on your appearance or tell someone else they look nice, but we need to keep in mind that our looks shouldn't be so prevalent in our society because in all honesty, they really aren't all that important in comparison to who we are as individuals. Because we are individuals, not just a pretty face.

Cover Image Credit: Project Inspired

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.

It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning. You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret. So here are 20 tattoos where you can't go wrong. Here are 20 small tattoos with big meanings. (But don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!).

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semi-colon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.

2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."

3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.

4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."

5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."

6.Greek symbol of Inguz: where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."

8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya)

9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty and artistic creativity.

10. The Greek word “Meraki” means to do something with soul, passion, love and creativity or to put yourself in to whatever you do.

11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from the Hobbit. It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.

13. “Lux in tenebris” means “light in darkness.”

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength & stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora” is translated literally as “Towards greater things.” It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.

16. A glyphs means “explore.” It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."

18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe & the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can reminds us of the inconsistency of life. It is also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.

SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos

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3 Powerful Life Lessons I Learned In Pageantry

How being a pageant girl grew me as a woman.

Competing in pageants has helped shape me as a young woman throughout my college career, and it has enabled me to grow stronger in my faith as a Daughter of the King. The reason why I am so eager to share my heart in this area of my life is that I hope you can walk away feeling inspired with any field and dream you are choosing to pursue.

In participating in both the Miss USA and Miss America Organizations, these programs have allowed me to be in the presence of powerful women who desire to better themselves and their communities, and they are using a crown to do the job. Whether you are involved in pageantry, are pursuing entrepreneurship, or simply taking a step out of your comfort zone, I hope these three life lessons will help you along the way.

1. Inspiration will take you farther than comparison ever will.

It’s a rabbit hole, comparison.

It will drag you down and keep you there with its lies and self-pity, forcing you to think about what you are not when you should be focusing on who you ARE. God has created me, as He has created YOU, unlike anyone else on this earth because HIS will has designed a calling that requires every detail of what He has given us individually, internally and externally. Comparison will only distract us from the direction He is calling us to walk toward.

I asked God to help me become inspired, not intimidated, by the successes of women around me. I found there is priceless value in looking up to women who have succeeded in areas I sought to be successful in. I began to take note of their success, and the strategies they applied to get to that point.

There is no greater feeling than being inspired by an individual who chooses to rise above the status quo. If you are seeking success in any arena of life, surrounding yourself with the words, excellence, and work ethic of those who have been where you want to be is an essential aspect of success.

The women I have looked up to in the pageant world are incredibly powerful, driven individuals who are too busy cheering on their sister to compare themselves to her. They are women who are so focused on building and improving themselves, that they have zero time, energy, or patience for jealousy.

I have learned to focus on who God has made me be, and how I can be the best version of myself every day. My heart is for you to feel that same way too, to reach for your own stars instead of comparing yours to someone else’s. Inspiration will take you farther than comparison ever will.

2. Opinions can only take effect with your permission.

Here’s the deal, opinions ONLY have power when you allow them to.

This is something I had to discover through the cloud of negativity that I often encountered as a Christian woman involved in pageantry. Probably one of the most powerful lessons I learned was to let go and let God defend me as He promises to do in His word (Psalms 91:1).

While I absolutely love discussing my God-given passion for women’s ministry in pageants, there have been plenty of times I have encountered judgmental criticism expressed for the sole sake of negativity. There were times when I received snarky commentary, felt belittled, judged, and stereotyped. I finally had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will see, or will want to see these dreams the same way I do, and that’s okay.

I learned to laugh and roll with humorous comments about pageant stereotypes (World Peace Y’all, and yes for the record I do like my hair so high that the angels can smell my hairspray) because to me it became an opportunity to break the negative stigmas that can be associated with pageants (that will be a different article for a different time).

I allowed the negativity I encountered to help shape me in a positive manner. Instead of feeling offended or hurt that I was being judged off the bat for being a “pageant girl” I found more confidence in being content with myself and what I was working toward regardless of the criticism.

Ultimately, this is a dream the Lord gave me, a passion, and vision that I see. I have learned that if an individual chooses to vocalize negativity, to just bless them and move on. There will always be criticism when you are working toward a goal, however, it is your choice to become bitter or to better yourself because of it. Always choose to forgive and to better yourself.

3. God will use the most unexpected platform for His most prominent ministry.

This is probably the most powerful lesson I learned overall. As I stated earlier, I have encountered views of all kinds when the conversation would come up of me being a Christian woman running in a program that scores its contestants based on performance, presentation, and physical fitness. I do look forward to going more in depth on this subject at a later time because there is so much to unpack here.

However, for right now I will say that my experiences in the pageant world have been nothing less than God-driven, and every single bit of what I have brought on stage has been used for His glory, and to honor Him. I have, on multiple occasions, had the opportunity to share the empowering and powerful love of Jesus Christ with women who do not know Him, or have a misconception of Him.

Some of my most cherished memories in pageants are the times our squad got together and prayed before going on stage in the Miss Arizona USA 2017 and 2018. I have had the opportunity to speak the light and liberating truth of the gospel to women who are walking in a field that often gets overlooked and judgmentally stereotyped by society, and sometimes other Christians.

Why wouldn’t I take Jesus here? If I have the chance to bring the freedom ringing love of Jesus Christ to a platform that gets massively overlooked because of misconception, why on earth wouldn’t I? Never allow someone else’s lack of affirmation dictate where you know God has called you to, whether that is a pageant platform, a business opportunity, a mission field, or a pulpit.

Never allow a religious spirit to taint what God has ordained for you, because I promise that if you are walking in full obedience in accordance with His word, you will hear loud and clear where He wants to take you, He will open up doors that no man can shut (Revelation 3:8), and His blessing will overwhelm you.

I can in full confidence say that God has called me into the pageant world to use me there, to speak into fellow sisters in His beauty and freedom that counteracts a society that thrives on insecurity and internal conflict. And if I win a competition? Well, I will be bringing His truth and love wherever I go. When you choose to walk in a faith-filled life, God will often call you into the unexpected in order to use you for the unimaginable. Where is He calling you?

Cover Image Credit: Michael Solberg

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