So right now I’m in the library sipping on a green smoothie, typing up revision notes and trying not to panic about my upcoming exams and the conversation on the table next to me inspired me to write this post. (See my Staying Healthy during Exam Season post).
Side note: Please don’t come to the library to gossip about boys and show each other photos of vixen weave. It is very distracting and annoying and there are other places for such activities; the ‘chicken shop’, costa and maybe even the bus stop. The saddest line in their whole conversation? – “I wanna pass my exams but I love man too much!”
So these college aged girls (16-18 years old) are showing each other photos of different girls and asking, “Do you think she’s pretty?” and the others will respond “Nah she just takes good photos,” or “Nope, it’s the lighting” or even “No, she just has good eyebrows.”
The amount of time they’re spending gazing at each photo is worrying; is a selfie that serious? Will analysing another girl’s photo and finding a flaw make you feel prettier? Is being pretty important? Sadly, for some of us the answer is yes. For some girls, being pretty is the ultimate life goal. I know, sad right? But I think most of us have gone through a phase, some longer than others, where all we wanted was to be pretty. We wanted other things too, good grades, the latest Primark jeans and the ability to eat anything we wanted without gaining weight, but being pretty was towards the top of the ‘goals list.’ Here’s why I look back and see how silly that was:
1. What is pretty anyway?
Pretty changes! Throughout culture, history and people, the standard of beauty changes. Right now it may seem that if you don’t have 20inch Brazillian weave, Mac lipstick, ripped Topshop jeans and Nike trainers then you’re totally not pretty but you’d be surprised what women considered pretty over the years.
In the late 19th century, ankles were sexy (I know right, ankles!), in Victorian times, bright and bold make-up was reserved for prostitutes, in the 1920s breasts were not in fashion (women taped them down to hide their curves!) and in the 1980s it was all about the bushy eyebrow.
Eyebrows on fleek?
The popular 1930 eyebrow vs the 1980 eyebrow
What is in fashion today, will not be in fashion next year, or even next week so relying on what other people think is pretty or beautiful is dangerous. You have to feel pretty from within, no matter what you’re wearing or what is current. Letting your self-confidence rely on a trend or what somebody else says means that it can easily be snatched away from you. Pretty has no ultimate definition so don’t you’ dare let anyone’s opinions of your looks matter because at the end of the day, what is pretty anyway? Pretty according to who? What is pretty to Sarah might not be pretty to Latoya because we all like different things. But, who cares what Sarah thinks and is Latoya God? Your standard of pretty should come from your Creator because it is He who created beauty.
Pretty changes but your self-confidence doesn’t have to. Feel pretty in your flexirods, headscarf and dressing gown at home, feel pretty covered in sweat in the gym and feel pretty in your standard jeans and t-shirt. If you don’t feel beautiful at home without your make up and nice clothes then nothing anyone says or does can make you truly feel good. Feeling good on a night out in a nice dress is temporary but feeling beautiful from within is a permanent feeling that nobody can shake.
2. Pretty doesn’t pay the bills
As much as I’d love to look like the drop dead gorgeous girls I see around me, I have to realise that being pretty can only get you so far. Sure, they might get an extra chicken wing at Sam’s or more attention at a party but what’s a chicken wing when the gas bill needs to be paid? At the end of the day it’s your brain that matters. Your exam candidate number does not reflect how slick your edges are so looking good will not get those A grades.
I want to be successful and I want to be comfortable. I want to be able to go on holiday every year and buy strawberries from Marks and Spencers and we all know that being successful in this world, career wise, comes down to brain power. You don’t have to go to Uni to get a good job but you do have to have some sort of intelligence and a great work ethic. Your CV does not have your photograph attached and yes, whilst research has shown that women are judged in interviews by their appearance, at the end of the day if all you have to show for yourself is your face then there is only so far you will go. A pretty girl is nice but a girl with brains? She’ll go far.
Stop focusing on looks; there is so much more to life. Likes on Instagram do not equate to job prospects (unless you want to be a Video girl or a ‘model’) so think about the bigger picture. Ten years from now are you going to wish you bought more bundles of weave or that you spent more time in the library? Will you be able to put the amount of times you got chatted up on the street corner on job applications? Smart people are forward thinkers; it might be hard to ignore the trends and hypes because that’s what everyone is talking about but thinking about your future and what will put food on the table is what will be the real trend when you’re 30. Look past the mirror and think about what will determine your success, your contouring skills or your qualifications?
3. Nobody marries “just pretty.”
Sure, looks matter when finding a mate but it’s just a part of the package. If simply looks secured a husband then why are not all of your beautiful aunties and church sisters married? A man wants more than a pretty face to wake up to; he wants a woman who can motivate him, support him, compliment him, challenge him, have fun with him and mother his children. Not to mention throw down a good meal – pretty doesn’t boil rice ladies! So if your ultimate goal when fixing that face is to find a man then make sure you’ve fixed up your personality traits too.
A pretty girl with no ambition or intelligence is good for a one night stand but a pretty girl with drive and goals? She’s the one that will make a good life partner. Anyone can get drinks bought for them or millions of private messages promising the world but not everyone finds an amazing husband. Amazing husbands want amazing wives and being good-looking is only part of that so before you spend all your money on ASOS, have an internal makeover too. Fix those habits that you know are not kind, loving and gentle. Challenge yourself to be a better woman .
4. Looks fade
A lady at church told me that you have to learn to love yourself now because as you grow, your body changes and you might not like those changes. She spoke about the menopause and how it can make you feel down about yourself because it can cause weight gain, changes in your skin and other physical changes. You’d better love those thighs now because when you’re 50 you’ll be wishing them back!
Looks fade; you will not look like this forever and so it’s important to hold your worth in more than your face. Will you still love yourself if you have wrinkles and swollen ankles? I hope so. Will you still feel beautiful if you need a walking stick? I pray you do. Will you still look in the mirror and smile at 65? I want you to.
Being pretty won’t make ageing any easier; staying healthy and active will. When your young skin changes and your abs disappear, your healthy heart is what will matter. You can use all the anti-ageing creams in the world but if you’re stuck in a hospital bed then who cares about your tight skin? Your body is precious so take care of it whilst you can so you can be one of those cool grannies dancing at church parties and not stuck in a residential home colouring in pictures of flowers.
So she’s pretty? So what? Pretty changes, pretty fades and pretty doesn’t pay for trips to Barbados. Ladies, I know it’s hard to feel good and see past the hype of looking good but be different and seek the bigger picture. Focus on what will matter in the future and most importantly what will matter in Heaven. There will be no catwalk to the pearly gates; God looks at our heart so focus on grooming that instead. Aim for a beautiful heart and it’ll reflect on your actions, success and opportunities. Pretty is temporary but inward beauty is lifelong.
Stay beautiful in God’s eyes and He’ll grant you a place in His paradise better than any VIP lounge in the club or a million likes on Instagram. I hope you all feel pretty in His name.