The Pressure to be Pretty

26 Jun


“You Don’t Have to be Pretty”

It sometimes takes me around 35 minutes to pick out an outfit. It seems I am never satisfied with the first few I try on—so I try on more and more clothes. By the end of my fashion rampage, half of the clothes in my closet are on the floor, my room is a complete mess, and I’ve gone through at least six outfits. Eventually, I have to throw something on, dash off to wherever I’m headed and hope to arrive on time. This used to happen 4 or 5 times a week.

Sound like anyone you know?

I don’t always leave the house proud of what I have on. Sometimes it’s just not good enough. I sometimes don’t feel stylish enough, edgy enough, or pretty enough.

Recently, I came across this quote:

“You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”

 -From Erin McKean, creator of the blog A Dress a Day

I have always felt the pressure to be pretty—haven’t we all?

That is why many of us spend so much time getting ready in the mornings. In my mind, its like: I must leave the house looking fabulous or else…

We are taught (often at dangerously early ages) that we are supposed to be pretty. And if we do not, we will have less fun, we will never date and get married, and we will fail as women. Of course, most people don’t say that out loud, but it’s part of our society’s consciousness. No one comments on the bags under Bill Clinton’s eyes, yet everyone has something to say about Hilary’s pants suits. No one cares how handsome or not handsome Bill Gates is, but everyone wants to comment on how Oprah is looking older and older these days. Male rappers can have F-ed up teeth, hideous clothes, and protruding stomachs covered in tattoos (gag), but current female rappers must fit a certain sexy mold. A woman can be politically, creatively, and monetarily successful, but at the same time,  she is always expected to look pretty.

But feeling the pressure to be beautiful all the time is exhausting. More important than feeling pretty is feeling free—and I can’t feel free if I feel like I can’t walk out of the house until I am perfect.

Two years ago, I was inspired by words from author and autoimmune cooking expert Mee McCormick. Visiting our class one day, she told us, “I don’t get dressed for anyone else.” She explained that when we dress for others, we feel trapped in the many opinions of other people telling us what to wear. There is a freedom that comes with doing things for ourselves.

That element of freedom: doing things because you want to do them and not caring what anyone else expects of you kind of reminds me of this:


Finally, I have to add: there is more than one way to be pretty. So be pretty or don’t be, but you probably can’t help yourself…you’re always pretty (unless you don’t want to be—then you don’t you don’t have to).

Shout Out: Thanks Erin McKean and Mee McCormick for inspiring this post!

Related posts: On Wanting to be a big Booty Hoe: The Definition of Sexy

5 Responses to “The Pressure to be Pretty”

  1. Anonymous June 26, 2013 at 1:16 PM #

    That cat is swell!


  2. Mee McCormick June 26, 2013 at 12:39 PM #

    LUV this, adore you & your journey & thank you for hearing me – so I could re-hear it via you…Praise authenticity!


    • awomynsworth June 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM #

      Thanks Mee! We really enjoyed your talk in class that day. It was great to hear your travel and writing experience. Thanks for all of your advice that day.


  3. Kai T June 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM #

    Mad that I can’t like this page cause I don’t have a wordpress account.. but keep it up! loved the article



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