Thursday, 10 January 2013

A few thoughts on (not) feeling pretty

For the past four and a half months I have not felt pretty. It's living in a cottage with no plumbing. It's hanging around all day wearing physical-work-appropriate clothing due to the renovation work at the house. It's not bothering to wash my hair or my clothes as often because I am covered in dust or other crap most of the time anyway. It's about feeling tired an awful lot. 

It occurred to me recently that I have not not felt pretty a lot in my life. Not that I've always felt beautiful, I just haven't actively felt not-beautiful. Apart from the occasional bad-hair-bad-skin-bad-whatever days and the times here and there when I've felt self-conscious about being too skinny, I've been okay with the way I look for a long time. I realize that I've been very lucky in that sense, that I've made my peace with the way I look, that I'm comfortable in my own skin. 

Both Chris and I have let ourselves look like crap while our lives have been stuck in the summer-cottage-limbo. Most days I wear really ugly clothes. I haven't had a haircut in months. I feel like I look like crap most of the time. But considering the circumstances I look perfectly presentable in the outfit pictures I've posted here and there. Heck, I've even looked pretty in some of them. But you know that feeling, when you're not looking good to yourself, because you are just not feeling good? That's where I've been at for way too long now. That's the worst kind of not-pretty. The kind where you're just not bothering to take care of yourself, the kind that makes you think "what's it for anyway". It's not that I don't believe, to borrow the much-used phrase from a mega-cosmetics-company, that I'm worth it. I just can't be bothered, and it's a bad cycle: why bother leads to feeling like crap, both physically and mentally. 

Self-appreciation is really important. Prettiness is important. Not the type where we compare ourselves to others, not the type where we try to achieve mindless standards of beauty. I'm talking about the type of prettiness that radiates from within. Pretty because we're enough, pretty because we just are. Prettiness is so, so much more than just looking like the part.

Things will get better soon, once we move in to the house, once we get our lives back. Once we have access to running water 24/7, once we are done sweeping sawdust from our floors every day. I know things will get better, that I'll feel better, that I'll look pretty to myself again. Chris had a haircut this week, and he's already looking like a real boy.


Anonymous said...

Guess who is going to see Teea soon! Aaah, bye-bye "jesus-hair"!!! And I know, I commented your hair when you were here... "hair of a politician from 1970's"... But still, I don't know anyone else who can look stunningly beautiful in 1970's politician hair!!!

Miss you,

Montsette said...

Thanks for this beautiful post. I have been reading you long before you move.
You are pretty, pretty girl and pretty person, and I am not only talking about appearance.
I understand that in times of changing or when we need to change something in our life, we take some time to insight what we're enough.
Hope you will soon be feeling pretty!

Hippocampe said...

I agree that "pretty" is a feeling, not an objective set of physical traits.
Clothes and grooming don't make me feel "pretty" though. For me it's about dignity : feeling self-respect and feeling strong enough to voice my opinion, to stand my ground in the world.

Robin said...

Waves, this is absolutely wonderful.

You know what I think is pretty? A badass woman who can use power tools, renovate a home with her own hands, and isn't afraid to sacrifice a little glamour to take care of business. That's downright beautiful. That's you.

anne b. said...

'prettiness' is such an interesting notion! to me, it is a subtly different notion than beauty. being a badass, capable woman is beautiful, yes! but I can understand the need to dress in clothes that you didn't just pick because of their usefullness or warmth, the need to do your hair... to take care of yourself, to prettify yourself, just for its own sake.

jo said...

Yes, how we feel will definitely reflect on how we see ourselves, and also how we actually look! If you're busy and affected by a major lifechange for example, you will be tired and will look tired and not as pretty as when you're in better condition. That all right! I've gone through some really serious shit and at the same time worried about my looks. You could tell that I was ill by my looks. That's ok - I think we should have empathy for ourselves when we noticed that. "Oh I look like shit...but that's because I'm really exhausted/ill/depressed. Poor me! I'll be better soon!"

Then there is the thing with not feeling pretty and feminine when contantly wearing practical clothing. It's frustrating to never be able to dress up and make yourself look nice...but there is also those feelings that are influenced by society, that a woman must look like this and that in order to be pretty and that pretty is so darn important.

Anyway, cheers and good luck with the house! Been following your blog with interest.

Madeline Quaint said...

I hope your renovations are getting along and you'll have running water soon! It really is difficult to feel relaxed in your skin when taking a shower is impossible or when you don't feel comfortable in the clothes you wear... However I do think that beauty isn't necessarily what everyone else thinks beautiful - one might rejoice in the most practical boots and jeans and coat that most women might think rough. It's just the feeling of being relaxed and confident that can make you feel OK about what you _need_ to wear, and see it as part of yourself - and thus love it all. I know it's not easy though. :)

JBee said...

You know, when I was an aeroplane mechanic - which meant 12-18 hr very physical workdays, and having grease so deeply ingrained in the skin of my hands that a week off was not long enough to get rid of the black completely, and sometimes just being too utterly exhausted to take a shower despite the level of dirtiness, and occasionally when under pressure being addressed by my workmates in the male form - I used to find it helpful, sometimes, to paint my toenails a good strong pink colour. it was just a tiny little secret reminder, noticed for the short moment of changing one's socks before replacing one's workbooks, that not-prettiness is a temporary situation, that the pretty is still inside. Maybe it could he you too, a little perk?

Anonymous said...

I know how you are feeling, dear...and I will say that you are always beautiful, and even now, despite our lack of access to running water. Love you Pie!!! CR

Dauphine said...

I’ve felt the same since I’ve moved in my new (and cold) apartment, but I couldn’t have said it so well. When taking a shower is everything but a pleasure, when you wear 3 pairs of socks all the time, when your muscles are contracted because of the cold, it’s difficult to feel pretty. But you, in any case, look as pretty as always!