It’s only in recent years that I was able to build my self-esteem.
I felt unpretty. I would sulk a little bit whenever I see beautiful girls on the covers of magazines, on the street, on tv, and anywhere else. I don’t look it, but I do sulk. I wished I was pretty like them and it hurts that I am not and will never be as pretty.
I would feel irrationably threatened that my boyfriend will cheat on me or will drop me like a hot potato as soon as someone artistahin comes along. It’s embarrasing. I am not proud of it. But it’s true.
I’m not the type to just sulk though. I googled for ways to help me with my situation, to build self-esteem, and to make me feel good about myself.
A lot of them centered on grooming, prettifying, and convincing myself that I am beautiful.
So, as it said on the internet, I would look myself in the mirror and tell myself “I AM PRETTY.”
Then, I would do prettification activities. I’ll be able to convince myself that I am pretty almost to a point of believing it but I don’t.
As soon as I see someone really good-looking, all the sulkiness and feelings of low self-esteem would roll back inside.
Every now and again, someone would give me a compliment and tell me I’m pretty. I will always say thank you, give a genuine smile like I’m some a sort of confident person, and then brush it off afterwards.
I know that someone might find me pretty, but not that type of pretty that would break necks, or stop cars, or get offered a job at a modeling agency. No, that will never happen.
Then, I began to think…
There must be something wrong with convincing myself that I am pretty to be able to build my self-esteem. It’s kinda like having a skinny body and telling yourself, “I am curvy.” Or it may be the other way around: telling yourself you’re skinny, when you’re every inch athletic.
It’s LYING to myself.
I am born with a specific body type and a set of facial features: and despite prettifying, I know there’s a limit to how pretty I can get. It’s bound to stop somewhere. Hanggang dun na lang talaga ang igaganda ko.
No matter what I do, this is what I’m born with, no amount of skin care, make up, clothes, or whatever can make me look like I just stepped out of a VS runway show or whatever stereotype it is that is considered really stunning.
And don’t even try telling me, “But Rae, those girls are glammed up, airbrushed, and photoshopped!”
I know that. But there are still people who are drop dead gorgeous without effort. The thats-just-makeup way of making someone feel good is not sustainable. Just as convincing-yourself-you’re-pretty wouldn’t be if you don’t actually believe it.
So, I tried something else.
I looked myself in the mirror again and told myself, “I AM NOT PRETTY”
Ouch. Hearing it from me, out loud, for the first time hurts so bad.
Then I followed it with, “I am not a pretty girl and THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE.”
I have a big nose, I am pimply, and my eyes are somewhat uneven. I made peace with these things and all the other things I don’t like about me.
I began to realize that true confidence comes from accepting yourself and how you are created.
Something like: “I am born like this and I’m ok with it.”
I decided to love myself and my flaws. It came to a point that my physical flaws don’t bother me anymore. My respect for myself and my self-esteem was no longer reliant on how I look like. On bad skin days, I still feel good. And now that I’m back to being overweight, I still feel confident.
If there’s something I can improve on, I will do that. But I’ve accepted stuff about me that I can’t change, like my height and my bone structure.
If I can’t be a pretty girl, that’s ok, it doesn’t I don’t have worth. There’s a lot more in me than un-prettiness.
When I see myself now, I don’t see pretty. I don’t see ugly either. I see ME. A person and not an object to judge as this or that.
The feeling-pretty strategy might work for some. But it’s just not for me.