Pretty ME vs. Real ME

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Beyonce; yes, she’s a great entertainer, artist and any other musical connotation you want to throw in the mix, but I appreciate her gift from a distance. I think I only have one CD of hers from when she was part of Destiny’s Child…say no more.

Yesterday I watched Beyonce’s new video ‘Pretty Hurts’ for the first time.  I must admit as I watched I felt very uncomfortable, sad and quite emotional. Why? Because the struggle is very real, what she portrayed in her video is a reality for so many women (I’m sure men too), including myself.  This is what I took away from her video:

There is no room for imperfections. If you aren’t pretty then basically you have no place in this world.  The Student Becomes the Teach wrote about this saying: “Too often, our culture over emphasizes external beauty which is commonly subjective over internal richness of character.”  I totally agree! I personally know a number of aesthetically pretty girls/women but their character is on a whole other level (there is grace, we can’t have it all or can we?) In her song Beyonce’s sings: “perfection is a disease of a nation…it’s the soul that needs a surgery.” This is truth! A friend of mine said that she has a problem with accepting how she looks.  Now this woman, in my opinion, is both aesthetically beautiful and has such a beautiful spirit.  For her to say that she is struggling in this area, makes me realize that there is something much deeper in our society that is not being addressed.  The souls of men and women really do need a surgery.

Being ‘pretty’ isn’t enough. If your character is jacked up and you are not happy being pretty means absolutely nothing. Too many people, women and men, rely on their looks to get them ahead in life and granted for some that has worked.  But, they have no aspirations except to be pretty and hopefully marry a rich man so they don’t have any worries…shoot, make your own money!  Let’s get something straight, being ‘pretty’ or having lots of money does not equate to a happy life or that you are better than anyone else because you have either or both of these.  If you believe that lie, you will be very disappointed…don’t believe the hype.  I have a problem when people think that these things are more important than being a good person; I’d rather have five “ugly” (no such thing in my opinion) friends who don’t pick and choose if they like me from one day to the next (based on what I look like) and that love and accept me, over 100 “pretty” friends any day.

Over the past month or so I have deliberately done things to address my own issues of feeling inferior or simply, not enough.  For example, I don’t wear makeup everyday or I’ll only wear mascara.  I realized that I was wearing full on makeup to cover up acne scars that I felt made me look not so pretty.   Now, I am not against anyone wearing makeup, if it makes you feel more comfortable and confident go ahead, there is nothing wrong with that at all. I love makeup. For me I was using it because I didn’t want people to see the Au natural Leancia in all her glory because I didn’t think the Au natural Leancia was pretty. So, I faced this issue head on and decided to start wearing little or no makeup at all.  Was I worried about how people would react and treat me, sure I was but more importantly I needed to be convince myself of the truth, that who I am is more significant  than how I look.  I wanted to intentionally go against the status quo of what is deemed as popular in our culture in order to embrace my imperfections and not be afraid to let the world see the real me.  The thing is if I don’t accept my own flaws and imperfections a) I give power to someone else to use against me, b) I become critical and judgmental of other people’s flaws.  As a culture and as women we are so quick to point out or notice external imperfections in other people instead of looking at who people are and accepting them flaws and all.  When we realize and I mean really live in the truth that none of us are perfect, we will be a lot more benevolent to others.

Most Beautiful Woman 2014 – People Magazine

I was so happy to read that Lupita N’Yongo was nominated as the most beautiful woman in the world by People magazine.  Seriously, seeing this woman own who she is and not change herself is truly inspiring to me as a dark skinned black woman.  Previous winners included; Gweneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman.  You can read what she thought about this tribute and what her mother would say to her growing up, here.  This leads into my final point.  Parents, don’t focus ONLY (note I didn’t say, don’t reaffirm or tell them they are not beautiful), on your child’s external beauty so much so that they feel like that is all that’s important or all they have to offer the world.  The culture we live in already does that without your help and added pressure whether consciously or unconsciously.  I know that when I have a child (particularly a girl) I will not only reaffirm their external beauty but I will also inform them that it’s okay to be something other than a reality TV star, a WAG or a model.  That working hard, valuing people and making a positive contribution to the world, not only makes the world a better place but will also have an even greater impact on their own soul.

So, I’ve decided that the real me is the pretty and beautiful me, that I refuse to hide whether people accept, approve or validate.  It would be great if more of us did the same.

Leancia :) x

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Pretty ME vs. Real ME

  1. Leancia, I love that you are letting the au natural you be seen… to me that is the most naked we can get. And I really admire that you’ve turned this exploration into a practice. It’s amazing how much most of us have internalized about the need to be pretty-and even when we know better going against that conditioning can be hard. Bravo.

  2. Thank you Diahann. I totally agree, I still find it hard but it’s getting easier. I think the older I get the more I realise what things are important and what things aren’t; I just don’t want to give my power away and let external factors dictate who I should be. I really appreciate your comments, thank you :)

  3. The reality of the world we live in is that people see you before they know you and depending on how shallow people are, they will either accept or reject you based on how you look. I think the key thing is how we stop ourselves from falling into the trap of judging people (and ourselves) in the same way. I really like what you said about not wearing make-up Lea, I feel most liberated on days when I do the same. I never really thought I was pretty until I hit my 20s and it didn’t kill me – in fact it was probably the best thing for me; I grew through my teens drawing confidence in my intellectual abilities, my personality and my character rather than make up, clothes and hairstyles. Now when a man compliments me I’m like thanks, but it doesn’t get to me cause I know if they saw me 10 years ago they wouldn’t even look at me twice lol.
    The problem for me is how we can over-react to culture and then end up at another extreme. I hear people say ‘tell your daughters they are beautiful everyday’ which in my opinion is not the answer. We all know girls who have been told they are pretty too much, and have become arrogant, self-obsessed and shallow – how is that improving on the looks-obsessed culture we live in? When I was growing up my dad hardly ever spoke about my looks, yes he would compliment me every now and then but his comments to me were about the woman I was becoming; he corrected a bad attitude and celebrated good traits. He would more often praise me for being kind than for being pretty (which takes no real effort on your part).
    The world is never going to stop obsessing over looks, but as individuals we can make sure we don’t give in to that, and keep appreciating all the different aspects of what makes us who we are as women.

    1. Thanks for you comment Selina. I really hear what you are saying and agree with the majority of it lol. What came to mind as I was reading your comment was ‘balance.’ I understand your point about ‘telling your daughters they are beautiful everyday risks them becoming arrogant etc but again, that’s down to the values and character traits that parents instill into their children to keep them humble and grounded.

      Like I said at the end of my post the FOCUS shouldn’t be on the external but it shouldn’t be negated either. I agree that the world we live your appearance is judged first, (I personally don’t like shabbiness) and if you’re going to an interview or event, of course dress accordingly. Aside from those contexts a woman should be able to choose how she presents herself and not be judged whether she’s pretty enough because she did pluck her eyebrows that morning lol. I think the main point I was trying to get across was that I can only control me and manage myself. Our culture will throw out everything to make us question, change and conform but ultimately I have a choice and every woman should feel like she has a choice to display to the world what she wants. Ultimately she will have to deal with the consequences of that, but hey, she had the freedom to make that choice and I think many women don’t feel like they have that freedom and need to be told that they do.

      Your dad is a legend! I think so many women would be better off if they had dad’s, friends, mother’s and sisters who did just what your dad did for you :) x

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