You’re lucky you’re such a pretty girl
My orthodontist once said to me, “You’re lucky you’re such a pretty girl—otherwise you’d need plastic surgery, for sure.”
He wasn’t being unkind. In fact, he was being very helpful. I’d just had a car accident that left me with a mouth full of broken teeth, and it was excruciatingly painful to open my mouth. I also had some facial lacerations that were certain to heal with very visible scars.
What he was saying was…those scars could have ruined my face. On another face, he would have recommended plastic surgery for them. He was just being honest.
When I was younger, I took my looks for granted. Statements like my kind orthodontist’s about my looks just reinforced my beliefs. I was attractive, objectively, according to society’s standards.
Fast forward 23 years, and I still think of his words. Not because I am objectively pretty anymore (I don’t believe anyone would make that leap other than my sweet husband), but because being looks-conscience all my life has made me painfully aware of every blemish, every scar, every wrinkle and every sagging body part.
I am no longer beautiful in the way of an 18 year old with a face full of scars. Plastic surgery can’t correct what is wrong with my face.
But I do look deep within myself sometimes, when the outer image makes me cringe or pout, and thank God I am still a pretty girl. Thank God I am such a pretty girl. My face is pocked right now by one of the worst rosacea outbreaks I’ve ever had. My wrinkles are numerous and my hair is silver. My facial scars now number over 50. Am I pretty?
I am. Thank God I am still pretty.
My teeth need work. I am overweight, saggy, lumpy, and stretch-marked in ways you would never like to know.
Am I still pretty?
I am. I am.
I am not objectively beautiful anymore. I know I am not. I know I didn’t trade upon my looks nor did I let them define me.
And that is part of why I am pretty now.
Smarts and looks are things you are born with. You can transfer them into wisdom and beauty if you really want to. It’s a matter of your choices.
You can also turn them into vanity and pride if you want. Your ego will encourage you to do so.
I can’t give wisdom credit for all my choices. I had a lot of fear and lived a very conservative life because of it. In some ways that was wise, but in others it was silly. Like most pretty girls my age, I’m sure, I often regret that I never tried to be an actress. Maybe I would have failed, but maybe not. Who knows? Maybe I would have destroyed my life with drugs and alcohol and sex. One never knows.
I am happy with my life. I am happy with my face. I am okay with not being beautiful.
I don’t get the respect I used to, when people see my pocked and reddened face. People make assumptions. None of them are flattering (except the ones where they assume I’m a teen with horrid acne!).
But I know who I am and I am so fine with me. I am so okay with me.
I am lucky I’m such a pretty girl.
Thank you, Dr. I can’t remember your name! I sat in your chair once a month for 7 years and I can’t remember your name. Shame on me. But thank you so much for your kindness.