I recently happened upon this blog post and was struck by the line, “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.'"I realized that a lot of my uncomfortable feelings about my forty-year-old face and body came from a feeling that to some extent I owed it to people to be pretty. To my mother, to my children, to my husband. But why?
Pretty is like the shallow cousin to beauty. The Lady GaGa to Madonna. The Lindsay Lohan to Elizabeth Taylor. The Rihanna to Michelle Obama. In real life, I don’t go too much for pretty. I've always been more attracted to, found more beauty in things that are a little worn or off-center or unmatched. I’m a fan of pied beauty.
|GLORY be to God for dappled things—|
|For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;|
|For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;|
|Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;|
|Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;||5|
|And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.|
|All things counter, original, spare, strange;|
|Whatever is fickle, freckled, [fortyish] (who knows how?)|
|With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;|
|He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:||10|
When I look at older women—and lately I've been doing that a lot. Checking out jowls and necks and brows, comparing, trying to figure out how some women manage to look old but beautiful—I admire most the ones that are more than pretty. The ones whose faces show strength of will, force of character, life. And when I look at young women—Those smooth foreheads! That glowing skin!—sometimes the prettiness looks a little unformed. Those unlined faces look to me literally incomplete. And I think there will be more beauty when time seasons a little of that pretty.
It felt like a revelation and a relief (and okay, maybe a bit of sour grapes) to just let go of pretty. Elegant, handsome, stylish, beautiful, confident, striking, fit, attractive—these I’m hoping for a lifetime supply of. But pretty, my stores on that are running low. And maybe I’m okay with that.