Pretty: A Rumination on the Word

I’m going to tell you about my least favorite word: Pretty, a word which here means, “superficially attractive” or “to some degree but not superlatively”. I have devoted over half of my life to “pretty”, to pursuing it, to apotheosizing it, to trying to be it. Pretty thin. Pretty smart. Pretty talented. Pretty normal. Pretty perfect. Pretty. I coated my face in makeup, practiced violin til my fingers bled, splurged on clothes I couldn’t afford, and literally starved myself to death. It got me nowhere, nowhere but a hospital bed in the cardiac ward. Laying there, makeup smudged and skin sallow, dressed in a hospital gown and tangled in tubes, I was anything but “pretty”. But have I ever been, will I ever be pretty?

No, and that’s okay. That’s great; that’s wonderful. I don’t need to be pretty, and I don’t want to be. Why should I be conventionally attractive when I can be uniquely beautiful? Why should I be decent when I can be extraordinary? Why should I be a comparative when I can be a superlative? Why should I be “pretty” when I can be so much more?

Very. I’m going to be “very”. Very intelligent. Very accomplished. Very kind. Very happy. Very me.

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