Unpretty

Usually, I try to write my Heavy blog in a way that appeals to both men and women on some level. This one’s especially for the girls, though. Sorry guys.

I had a friend say to me the other day, “I just don’t feel very pretty lately.”

I can relate, and I’d bet that most of my readers can too.

All of the primping and preening that we girls do to ourselves in the quest to feel pretty is overwhelming sometimes, especially when it feels that none of the work is enough if you are overweight.

We scrub, pluck, file, wax, paint, laser, exfoliate, moisturize – and I haven’t even mentioned what we put our hair through yet. We spend countless dollars on beauty magazines and products, tanning packages, salon visits and spa treatments. All to feel, and hopefully look, pretty. It’s really about attraction – we want to be attractive to others.

You see, the media – magazines, television and the like – have spent decades molding what we as a society considers a pretty woman. Despite the recent grassroots movement to use more realistic looking models, stick thin runway models still grace the covers of fashion rags at every news counter. Even movie starlets strive to be thin, lest they end up the next Kirstie Alley, hounded by paparazzi looking for the least flattering angles to publicly slay an otherwise beautiful woman.

Of course, I’m not really saying anything here that is new or enlightening. I’ve heard the too-thin media debate too many times to count over the years. People seem to want change, but social change takes much time and energy – just ask any woman who was part of the women’s rights movement of the 1960s and they’ll probably tell you that, although great progress has been made, we’re still strides away from true equality. The fact of the matter is, women’s rights have been a social issue in this country since the mid-1800s when land ownership, voting and higher education were all difficult, if not impossible for women. Here we are, nearly 170 years later, and social change in the women’s rights movement is still occurring.

And so, with society generally accepting that thin equals beauty, it doesn’t help that some men perpetuate that notion to obnoxious proportions. I say “some men” because I truly know some wonderful, supportive men out there who have an amazing ability to see beyond the fat. My husband is one of those. But I also know far too many men who are, frankly, just plain jerks.

A (surprise, surprise) single male acquaintance likes to make rude comments about how he likes his women “Size One.”

Another man, a (thankfully) former boss of mine, had a hard time keeping his thoughts to himself when he saw a thin, pretty woman.

Admittedly, there were days when I was happy to be the fat girl sitting in the corner who never had to worry about being the subject of his sexist remarks. But every once in a while, and I’m almost too ashamed to admit it because I know I’m supposed to be above all of the superficial nonsense, it would be nice to be seen as something other than obese – I want to be pretty.

When I was a teenager, I met a boy at an Upward Bound program. We had a lot in common and quickly became friends. He wasn’t particularly hunky like some of the other guys I knew, but we flirted and always had fun together and I really thought he liked me.  I weighed perhaps the lowest I had in my entire high school career, but at 156, I was still overweight. One day, I mustered all of my courage and asked him out.

His answer was simply, “I really like you, but maybe if you could just lose some weight first. Right now, I just don’t find you attractive.”

Regardless of the saying, words do hurt.

I felt unpretty in that moment, and I have spent far too many moments feeling unpretty since.

Sadly, I’m unsure how to stop that feeling. I wish it were as simple as flipping a switch.