They say it’s in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes the beholder is everyone else. How many times have we seen those campaigns by marketing companies trying to convince us that their idea of beauty is something we should attain to have. Or the opposite like the anti- campaign that every type is beautiful. And it’s easy to say to yourself I am beautiful if you have had it reaffirmed to you in some way in your lifetime. Yeah I know everyone has insecurities but there are some people who have never been told they are beautiful. Have you thought about what they feel when our culture values a woman’s beauty as the ultimate achievement. Because being smart is one thing but if you’re smart AND beautiful well then you really made it. 

And now we live in a time when conventional beauty can be bought. I was reading the cover of a book by this beauty vlogger whose tutorials I used to watch. Part of the flap read:” she constantly reminds you of the most important thing of all,to be exactly and unapologetically who you are.” I stopped and laugh, this coming from the woman whose had a nose job and removes all her female sideburn. Yes be who you are, while conforming to conventional beauty standards. 

And nothing describes the ideal image of beauty better than Tina Fey’s description: 

“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

A whole industry thrives on the insecurities and vanity of women. And don’t get me started that men wouldn’t even know how to deal with how much makeup those women with #nomakeup #natural selfies really have. 

It’s like when I discovered my freshman year that most of the international girls used BB cream and circle lenses. Their skin and eyes didn’t naturaly glow like that. 

It’s one thing to want to look good. I just got a haircut today and I felt fabulous afterwards. I picked a hair cut that was me, no bangs, kept most of my length and gave me the ability to style it how I traditionally like to do so, down or in braids. But it’s another thing when we’re obsessing if we look good enough rather than focusing that effort into learning something that will add a whole lot more value to our lives. I’m certain 20 minutes of a light jog will do you and your life much more good rather than obsessing if you don’t have a pointed nose.

And I’ve been there. Apparently I went through a stage when I wanted a Mexican Anchor woman nose. My sister horrifingly reminded me. I didn’t know what to make of my nose its not severly bulbous but it’s not small and well angled either and I always felt it was disproportionately big to my small head.  But over the years I’ve realized it’s MY nose, with a history of indigenous people and conquistadores and who really know what else. I had to finally stop the hate because the thought of plastic surgery just makes my stomach turn and I later realized I was agonizing about a nose that most people are just pretending to have by playing up their angles. ( I eventually learned what’s my most appealing angle). So I’ve made peace with my nose but it took a while. 

Which is sad and ridiculous. Because at some point someone made me believe that my value to this world is held in my ability to look appealing to others. (I can’t even see my nose unless I look in a mirror!) Not in the work I do, not in the relationships I build, not in the ideas I have. 

I think too about how we reinforce this idea. How many times have you heard someone say specifically to a little girl “stop acting like that, pretty girls don’t act like that” maybe it’s a Latino thing but I hear it all the time, I’ve been guilty of saying it myself. 

So I have to do better, because there aren’t enough women coders, and we don’t have any history of women presidents in this country, and women start-ups don’t get funded as well as mens, and for a whole set of reasons that we need to rally women’s efforts into. 

It’s like the girl in the song “Whatever will be, will be”:

“Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?”

Her mom answers “whatever will be, will be”.

That’s reassuring. 

I would like to think if I’m ever asked that I would know what to say. I would say beauty is fleeting, money can all be lost, if we get lucky we’ll grow old. I hope that you’ll have more in your life than the memory of beauty and the lonliness of money. I hope that you find passion, and friendship, love and meaning. And I hope if I’m asked will I be pretty? I’ll say you are a creation of God and were made for so much more than to simply be pretty. 

So you’ll notice my featured picture is me all dolled up. Because that’s the face I choose to show the world on most days (it’s even a good angle)

But as  proof of my conviction behind being more than pretty here is what being unapologeticaly me actually looks like:

It looks like not enough sleep, unslicked baby hair, retainer, stubborn zits, undone eyebrows, freckles, scars in unappeling light. 

What you don’t see is the 4 weeks of counseling I’ve been through and the work I’m putting in to heal. 

What you don’t see are the conversations I had standing up for myself and my needs. 

You don’t see that I’ve started going to the gym Friday nights because that’s when I can. You don’t see the podcasts I listen to so my brain doesn’t turn into mush. And you don’t see the sacrifices I’m making so that my son and I survive and get through this period. I am working hard to build my stregnth back so that when I look in the mirror I can say: “you are intelligent, you are strong, and you are capable”. 

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