Uh, I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off
And you rated me a six
I was like, “Damn”
But even back then with the tears in my eyes
I always knew I was the shit
Have you ever listened to a song and as you heard the lyrics, word for word, verse by verse, one in particular captured your attention because it resonated with a either a certain time in your life or a feeling you were currently experiencing? Did you take a deep breath, exhale and then nod in agreement? Did it move you to text your friends about it because you knew, truly knew that they too “needed” to hear it as much as you did? Well, that’s what my blog is now about. Those words, those verses, read either in a book, heard in a song, a movie or speech, or seen in the beauty of an art piece, compelling and inspiring us all to speak up about something.
Case in point, Janelle Monae’s song I Like That. I love this song in it’s entirety, and if you were in close proximity, you’d hear me sing along to it as if I were a contestant on The Voice. But the verse above really tugged at my emotions. I listened to it a few times over to understand exactly why; and then it hit me! Last day of Junior High School. A girlfriend and I decided to walk the outside perimeter of the building after school hours. We said goodbye to our friends as they all headed off toward their long awaited summer vacation. She and I paused to chill under the shade near the steps of the side entrance and chatted away like young girls do. Two boys then exited and as they made their way down the steps, one turned toward me. “You’re pretty”. Oh boy!!! Two simple words that seemed to have felt like a summer gift wrapped in a big red bow and made the air I inhaled tickle my heart. But as quickly as it was delivered to me, just as quickly it was snatched away. “Pretty ugly”! he concluded, and both boys chuckled, walking away to what I hoped was their worst summer ever.
I don’t recall who that boy was. And I’m sure it’s a good thing I don’t. All I remember are those four words…“You’re pretty. Pretty ugly”. Words that can and most likely will stay with us forever. And we either let them break us in to so many pieces we no longer recognize the vessel we once were, or we can give them a mental “Fuck You” and move on as if their 5 seconds in our lives didn’t even exist.
I yield on the side of the latter and I’m sure you do too. But the problem is that when you’re a 14 year old girl, you are not fully equipped to “fuck away” a situation as if it never happened. All you know how to do is replay the words in your head and wonder what willed it to happen in the first place. Was I really that ugly? You then waste away that summer staring at the mirror way more than considered normal. You try to figure out how to reinvent yourself for the upcoming school year instead of enjoying your time off.
“Stop it, that’s silly, no way, who cares what he said”, may very well be your rebuttal, but think about it. So many women, either in past generations or the one you presently identify with, spend many of their waking hours trying to figure out what THEY themselves did to lead a boy to make fun of them, or a dude to not text them back, or a man to avoid a second or third date.
I have yet to come across a woman that will tell herself… “I was amazing last night and Mr. What’s His F’ing Name couldn’t even appreciate it!”, and then move on as if this occurrence was but a mere drop in their ocean. The wise and experienced Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman put it simply…“The bad stuff is easier to believe”.
Yet, with all the progress and strides that women have made by this century… self esteem, or the lack there of, links and ails us all despite our financial status, education, race or culture. The solution? Is there even such a thing? I can spit out the tried and true “Beauty is skin deep”, “If he was really worth your time, then he’d call”, “There are more fish in the sea”. Your closest comrades might add on “He was a deuche”, “He wasn’t that great to begin with”, “He probably had a baby momma” or “He must suffer from small penis syndrome”. I can bet money that most of you have heard at least one of these at some point and yet, they don’t seem to be helping much.
So then, what to do? What to do? If you pick up 20 self help books, you’ll probably find 20 different suggestions. Speak to your mom, and she’ll inundate you with her wisdom. Girls night out will have your besties telling you just how awesome you are. And ALL THAT in itself IS the solution. They are all correct. They all have something to say that may help you. They all have an ounce of truth. Their desire for you to see how wonderful you are is what you will need to realize just that. There are way too many women in the world, with too many internal and external circumstances to have just one “fix-it” solution. You need to allow others (be it your friends, your family, your coworkers) and even your own self to convince you just how great you are. You have to learn that your looks, your body, your personality, your interests, your abilities, your drive, your wants, and even your flaws and weaknesses make YOU uniquely YOU. We need to encourage each other, support one another, and hopefully, you’ll remember that in Janelle Monae’s words, that even with tears in your eyes, YOU ARE THE SHIT!!!
— The Pretty Platform