I don’t need to be told I’m beautiful, and this is why.
You don’t need to tell me I’m beautiful. I would rather be complimented on making a good cup of tea.
I am not ‘beautiful’.
I’m not. I don’t want you to argue with me. I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m short, I’m flabby, I still get spots, my face is full of scars from old spots and a sibling-related incident in my childhood. Some days I don’t brush my hair, I never wear foundation, I hardly ever ‘dress up’. I could probably be ‘beautiful’ if I wanted to be.
But do I?
Will having perfect hair make me a better writer? Will wearing foundation make my parents love me more? Will wearing tummy-sucking underwear make the weather in the UK a bit kinder? No? Then why on earth should I want to be beautiful?
Like it or not, beautiful is a word that people throw around to describe many things, but generally the most beautiful is something unobtainable. Pale girls want to be tanned, tanned girls worry about their moles and freckles, freckly girls get out the lemon juice and attempt to bleach their ‘beauty spots’. Please, don’t try and call my freckles ‘beauty spots’. I don’t have portions of my face (and entire body) that are more beautiful than the rest. They’re pigmented patches of skin that turn darker when I’ve been in the sun, but only if I somehow manage to expose them without burning lobster red.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of person who is past caring what they look like. I sometimes am. Some days, going out and getting shopping in is more important than putting on my eyeliner. But when I do make the effort to brush my hair, put on mascara, wear something that I’ve chosen for reasons other than proximity to my hand when I was dressing, I don’t do it to be ‘beautiful’. I want to look like just one thing. Myself.
I don’t want anyone to think that the thing that will make my day is telling me I look pretty with my hair up. Did I not look pretty yesterday, and every other day this year when I didn’t put it up? Did I care, yesterday, that you didn’t tell me I looked pretty?
If you want to make my day, compliment something I care about: not that you think I probably want to hear. Tell me you read one of my daft articles and liked something about it. Tell me I made you a nice cup of tea. Tell me you appreciated that I held the door open for you, or hold the door open for me! Everyone likes to be a little bit lazy from time to time.
Right now, I’ve got the One Direction song ‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’ in my head. Now you probably have as well, and I’m sorry for inflicting that upon you. The song starts off with the major red flashing light of ‘you’re insecure’. As it happens, I’m not. And when I was, it didn’t make me beautiful. It made me so ashamed of being what I was, pale for example, that I wanted to change myself. I spent a full hour putting on bronzer before a party once, and then spent most of the night hiding in the corner in case people could tell or it started to wear off.
I can’t honestly say I’d have felt beautiful if I went barefaced. I could have gone in for a million pound makeover in the hours before that party and arrived primped and perfect with hair that didn’t budge from beautiful and the perfect hair, skin, nails… everything. And I’d still have looked different to the others, felt left out because now I was overdressed. I’d have spent the night hiding in the corner protecting my perfection from the world. If I’d gone barefaced, at least I might remember something other than actively avoiding all the people I was supposed to be there to see.
I used to want to go back in time and tell the younger me that she was beautiful… but the younger me wouldn’t have listened and the older version would have felt uncomfortably lying to herself in such a literal way.
Now, if I could, I’d go back to both those versions, sit them down and tell them that the less time they spent worrying about their hair and if lilac eye shadow was ‘the one’ to make them beautiful, finally, the more time they could spend doing things that were really important to us. Things like riding Walter, our recently-retired purple bicycle, and writing stories and poems under a depressing bridge that actually led to a power sub-station. Things like lying in bed on sunny mornings doing nothing but daydream.
Then again, we did eventually work that out, and now all those past versions of myself have made this current version. And, frankly, me myself and I don’t want to be beautiful, we want to be ourselves.
Thanks anyway for the nice compliments. One day I’ll make you a cup of tea and you’ll have something to really call beautiful.