We all know “those girls” who are just naturally pretty. The ones with the symmetrical faces and gorgeous hair, that have to do very little to leave the house and still be considered attractive. You remember them in high school – every town has a couple of them, the head cheerleader, the Prom Queen. Chances are you were not one (and neither was I). As a matter of fact, 99% of us are not “these” women.
It takes me quite a bit of prep work just to be considered “adequate”. Me without makeup is a scary picture, me with minimal makeup is almost accceptable. When I go out, it takes TIME and EFFORT to look “pretty”. As is the case with most women, I’m sure.
My daughter is in the throws of being 14. Being 14 in 1988 was hard, I can’t even imagine how difficult it is in the era of the Miley Cyrus’s and the Miranda Cosgroves and Selena Gomez’s, who every time our girls see them, appear PERFECT in every way. And I know, media and photoshopping and blahblahblah – everyone KNOWS that celebrities are photoshopped, it doesn’t help a little girl that spends inordinate amounts of time on her appearance, only to be pretty much ignored by everyone to know that these girls only look as beautiful as they do with the help of many, MANY people. The fact is, the average girl doesn’t have those types of resources to help her achieve what they see in front of them at every turn.
My fiance’s niece, Niki, falls into the “Naturally Pretty” category. She’s 16 and she’s gorgeous without any effort. She and my daughter are close, and my daughter looks up to her. Niki is also very sweet (thank GOD she’s not a bitch) and so this post is not any sort of negative reflection on her or her “type”. But the other day we all went to the Renaissance Faire. My daughter got up early, spent 2 hours getting ready, applying her makeup just so and putting all sorts of this and that in her hair, then flat ironing it, then pinning some of it back, finishing her flawless makeup with a little magical glitter on her eyelids, she invested TIME into picking the perfect jewelry to accent a brand new shirt she had just gotten the day before.
Niki, who was hungover, rolled out of bed, threw her hair up in a messy bun, put shorts & a tank top on and left the house. I am not exaggerating.
The entire day, Niki got compliment after compliment. From complete strangers!! “Oh your hair is so gorgeous!” and “Oh my God your eyes are SOOO pretty!” and my daughter got NOT ONE. I mean, from people other than us of course.
It makes me so horrifically sad, an overwhelming sadness I can’t even put into words to see her put so much effort day in and day out (and I am talking focused, 2 hours a day minimum EFFORT into her appearance) and be seen by others as average in the beauty department. She has so much going for her (including being very pretty), none of which matters when she thinks she’s ugly. She is smarter than most adults, she can draw like there’s no tomorrow, and her writing skills are comparable to some published writers. She gets almost straight As. She is the sweetest, kindest person, who would never hurt a fly and would give the shirt off her back for a stranger.
And no amount of telling her that she is pretty helps. She doesn’t want to hear it from her parents, or her family for that matter – in her eyes, we’re SUPPOSED to think she’s beautiful. She’s like most 14 year old girls that want to be pretty to everyone, to boys and to other girls, to strangers and to schoolmates. When we try to focus on all the areas she overwhelmingly excels in, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t cheer her up.
And I KNOW what she’s going through. Most of us do. Most of us know the pain of not feeling good enough, or pretty enough in this case. But as a mother, there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching my daughter’s heart break day in and day out and be able to do NOTHING about it. I painstakingly watch as she puts meticulous detail into every single aspect of her appearance, only to still feel slighted by her peers.
One of the women who complimented Niki at the Ren Faire the other day, was a 40-s0mething year old woman who worked at one of the booths. Niki, my daughter and I were looking thru those flowered hair crowns with the ribbons, looking for one that would match what Haley was wearing. Haley tried on 4 or 5 and we finally settled on one that looked sooo cute on her. Niki didn’t have money to get one, so she was just helping us pick one out. After all the rigamarole surrounding picking one of these flowered things out and my daughter running to and from the mirror with each one, and twisting and turning, and changing her mind, she finally settles on one and I reach in my purse to pay. Niki hadn’t said a word the entire time, hadn’t tried even one thing on, she was just along for the ride. The woman went on and on about how pretty she (Niki) was, never once saying anything to my daughter who had been trying on her overpriced $25 flower hair crowns for 20 minutes. She never even said the one she picked looked nice on her…..NOTHING. Just complimented Niki and took my money for a trinket that my daughter was desperately hoping would make her look pretty.
It’s so devastatingly heartbreaking so see such sadness in such pretty, pretty eyes, and not be able to make one ounce of difference. I wish beauty didn’t mean so much to her (or society). I wish I could help her to see what I see when I look at her – a gorgeously beautiful girl inside and out, with the world at her fingertips.