Rants Women

The Problem with Pretty

So it’s Friday, and this week I did something to my body that made everyone completely freak out.

I shaved my legs.

Just kidding. I easily haven’t shaved since last Wednesday.

So what did I do? I got a fake septum piercing.

Nope, not kidding this time. That’s what I did. My parents hate it. 97% of the population of Metro-Detroit hates it. I would say that everyone in the world hates it, except for guys that are in punk rock or hardcore bands and my 3 hipster friends.

Why did I put it in in the first place? Well, it was really simple, actually, and completely not thought out. I had one of those fake hoop things that you use for an ear, and I stuck it in my nose. That was the entire process. I didn’t tell my parents- I let them notice on their own, mainly because I find it so enjoyable to freak them out when they’re least expecting it. They weren’t expecting it…at all.

Before we go further, here’s something that you should know about me: I hate being censored. I despise it. When people tell me that I shouldn’t wear certain things or like certain politicians or say certain phrases, it makes me want it even more. I wouldn’t call it rebellious because I’m a pretty straight-laced individual. I am just insanely right-brained, so the idea that somebody is trying to stifle my right of self-expression makes me want to get a face tattoo or something. Censorship is the thing in life that I hate the most for myself and for others.

So, it should be no surprise that I like this fake septum piercing. I love it, actually. I really like the way that it looks, but beyond that, I like it even more because everybody hates it so much (right-brained anti-censorship disorder. It’s a thing). But for the last few days, I have heard some responses to the face accessory that really made me think. Hard.

Let me start by saying this: We all have preferences. For instance, my sister Sarah is covered in tattoos and wants more. My sister Renee doesn’t want tattoos, ever. Sarah loves the way that they look. Renee isn’t interested. There is nothing wrong with either response. Nobody has the right answer. It’s just called preference.

I have always been attracted to guys with brown hair. There’s nothing wrong with guys with blonde hair, but if I’m given the choice of two gorgeous men, one having dark hair and one having light hair, after I get all of my awkward attempts to flirt and be funny out of the way, I will always pick the one with dark hair. Aladdin was always the hottest prince, in my opinion. Ken dolls did nothing for me. My way of thinking is not incorrect, and there’s nothing wrong with blonde hair. It’s just my preference. It’s what attracts me.

So, I am not surprised that most people just don’t like it simply because of preference. I heard a lot of people say, “I just don’t think it looks good on anyone.” That’s fine. I have never, ever been bothered by people not loving the way that I look. But there were a few comments that made me think. Not comments intended to hurt my feelings- and they didn’t. But more comments about the level of beauty that a face piercing might demote you to.

I want to say, before I go on, that this is not an attempt to shame people, but instead it made me search really deep and think about the way that I approach beauty. I want you to do the same.

Is there a definition of beauty that women are encouraged to follow? Do we assign women their beauty based on our own expectation of what beauty is and looks like? Are we guilty of thinking that somebody is NOT pretty because of a certain thing that we don’t like about them?

Hair, makeup, piercings, tattoos- these are all preferences that we have, and yes, there are extreme cases where these can go overboard, like the guy I met on a dating website who literally had SW DETROIT 313 tattooed on his face. Honestly, that’s just never recommended.

But in the normal cases…like a septum piercing…are we taking away “beauty points” from people when they do something or wear something that we don’t find attractive?

Are we letting our preferences blind us to the beauty of the people around us?

I am asking these questions because I am so, so, so guilty of this. How many times in the last year have I said, “She would be so much prettier if she just _________.” As I’m looking back, I’m so disgusted by that. I am so ashamed that I would say that about a woman. I am embarrassed that I would assume that being pretty is the very best thing that a woman could be.

Was this every single case? Am I a savage person? No. This post isn’t intended to make anyone feel bad. It’s really just intended to make you think: Am I guilty of only looking at the surface?

Last year, I chopped my hair off. I had hair down to my butt, and I cut it to land above my shoulders. In a previous blog, I told everyone why I actually did it, and it wasn’t because TSwift made the bob popular again.

I chopped my hair off because so many people complimented me on my hair. “Your hair defines you,” I was told. “When we think of you, we think of your great hair.” Now don’t get me wrong, I had the best long hair on the block.

But, I don’t know, I just remember being disappointed that that’s what people thought about when they thought about me. Leah. Great hair. Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But there was this odd part of me that wanted to take away that surface beauty and omit the part of me that men gushed over (among other things. I am amazing, after all). I wanted to almost strip myself of my sexuality and bring it down to a place where people were forced to notice me for other reasons.

I experienced something when I cut my hair: I felt like myself. I felt like Leah. I had never felt sexier. I am experiencing the same exact thing with this septum piercing. It’s the same feeling. I feel like myself. I feel like I am expressing what’s inside. Not everyone will like that. And that doesn’t bother me.

What would really bother me is if I went by the proposed standard of beauty and wasn’t myself. And what does bother me is that that’s exactly what we want people to do.

Here’s the thing: My nose ring is a thing of preference. You don’t HAVE TO like it, and that would be totally fine. But make sure in the process that goes with not liking things, we’re not encouraging people to not like themselves.

I want to stop trying to fix people to make them prettier based on what I think is pretty. In fact, I never, ever again want to talk about someone’s beauty without first noticing their heart, or their mind, or the way that their brain works.

You are so pretty isn’t the best compliment in the world. You know what is?

“You are so you.”

 

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