The Meaning Of Being "Pretty"
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

The Meaning Of Being "Pretty"

What does the construct mean to us as a society?

The Meaning Of Being "Pretty"

I remember the first time a boy called me "pretty." It was the summer of my 16th year and I was wearing a pair of American Apparel high-waisted shorts and a lace crop top with my hair in a topknot on a warm August day. I felt anything but pretty in the hot, humid moment, though my skepticism over the statement stemmed from something other than my appearance. I couldn't help but think about a more vivid memory: the first time a boy called me "ugly."

That happened when I was 11, over an AIM conversation a friend of mine was having with a guy about the girls in our sixth grade class. The guy doing the judging wasn't very important to me, but having him type out an exuberant "EWWWWW" when my name was presented followed by an explanation of my unattractive and fatness was jarring. It left an indelible mark on a young Rachel.

These memories lead me to think about what value "prettiness" has in our society. While we have increased our efforts to tell young girls they should not require the validation of young men (or anyone, really) to feel good about themselves, how whole-hearted are we in these efforts? We still continue to produce stories where attractive individuals — whether in the physical sense or the personal — win out. But is this decision based on our own selfishness, or is it just art imitating reality?

The labels we place on people will always be important because what we preach is so rarely practiced. No number of body positivity campaigns or words of kindness will stop the inevitability of mean middle schoolers or the basic truth that "pretty" people will experience some advantages in life. And while, yes, there is something behind the "if you believe it, you can achieve it" ideology, it's kind of hard to force people to fancy you if they aren't attracted to your aesthetics. So how do we handle this issue of dwindling self confidence?

Well, again, I turn to myself, to compare what I looked like when I was "ugly," when I was "pretty," and now, which is probably somewhere in between:

Looking at these pictures, the differences I see are less in the appearance (though I certainly don't miss my glasses or braces) and more in the person I was. The girl in later years has a plan and a passion, neither of which are dependent on what someone thinks of her. She is interesting, and she cares more about that than others' opinions. "Pretty" is a combination of internal and external factors, which is the reason I'd argue it falls second to confidence, something you can have regardless of and even in spite of others. Confidence is what gets you places, maybe even gets you to being considered "pretty," if you want to be.

OK, so maybe the scars of my not-so-pretty past will always be there, and perhaps I'm still not sure if I'm "pretty" or not, but here's one thing I do know: there are definitely some things about me that are pretty freaking cool.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments