After becoming pretty

Nobody tells you about the hours you still spend in front of the mirror poking at your imperfections, still finding flaws.

Nobody tells you about how sometimes you cry yourself to sleep in tune to the old thought of being ugly

Nobody tells you how a million compliments are still worth nothing versus that little ugly voice that’s still alive inside of you

Nobody tells you how, when people tell you “You’re pretty!” you still assume they’re saying it out of pity, or it’s just a lie.

Nobody tells you becoming pretty has a terrible aftermath

Life was hard when I was ugly. The voices of my peers telling me I was not attractive were as loud as the one inside my head saying the same. But when the outside voices quieted and the ones in my head could repeat the same thought louder, I can say that my life truly became a living hell, with myself as my worst enemy.
Back in the day I had never been allowed to groom myself. My eyebrows were always bushy, my hair tied in a low, dorky ponytail and my head always down. My mother refused to put braces on me because she thought that my smile should be kept terribly crooked, because if not, boys would start looking at me. "You're not ready to be a lady yet!" she would say. All my classmates were dressing up, making guy friends, flirting, having little sweet high school romances, and overall, enjoying those youthful years. My hopeless-romantic self wished so bad to be noticed. And it killed me little by little how I was being restrained from all that.

My friends were my safe heaven during these times, until them, too, started aspiring for boys’ attention. To the point where being funny, caring and nice was just not cutting it to keep being friends with me. I had no men to offer. And they moved on. My group of friends pushed me aside. They were better looking without me. And my best friend went on to befriend a pretty girl that could get her all the attention from boys that she wished for. That year I had lost it all socially.

I had an entire summer alone with my thoughts. I wasted hours of my hot summer days looking in the mirror wishing to be prettier, and repeating to myself how ugly I was. Back at school most of my classmates had wonderful stories on how they spent lazy days at the pool with their friends, went to cool summer parties, took on a new sport, or got into art classes, while I had nothing. All the time I could’ve been going to parties, reading, exploring my passions… were wasted by standing in front a mirror looking at my flaws.

Those years I pretended to be friends with some girls, never getting too close to them in fear of them leaving me as my other friends had. And then came my daily repertoire: wake up, go to school, pretend you’re into whatever basic things my ‘friends’ were into, go home, half-ass my homework and spend the rest of the afternoon feeling ugly.
When I turned seventeen is when I took the matter in my own hands. A whole lot of Youtube videos and big stashes of Seventeen magazines later, I decided that I was in for a change. I plucked my eyebrows, took care of my hair, threw a little BB cream (I wasn’t allowed makeup at my school), and pretty much manipulated my parents emotionally to get me those 6-month smile transparent braces (oh yes, the manipulation was strong on this one).

And there I was. I got what I wanted.

An older guy started texting me. I felt pretty in parties. I made great friends. I felt that my voice was being heard. I got into a big art project at my school. I aced my essays and test. I was not afraid to speak up. I stopped texting this other guy because I stopped liking him but I figured someone else would eventually come along. And eventually someone did.

The braces came off.

The jerk-face in my physics class said “DAAMN” when he saw me. My peers complimented me for my smile and told me how pretty I had turned out. That someone who came along asked me to be his girlfriend. Whatever superficial high school things I had wished for were in my hands by the end of senior year. I was in my peak. But whatever goes
up must come down.

Fast-forward to senior prom, wearing this tight, long dress, with pretty makeup on, arriving late to our class group picture. As I embarrassingly asked the photographer where I should stand in the picture, all my classmates cheered and wooed for me once, and then a second time for my boyfriend, who was standing among them, his friends pushing him and making noises. I was told I was too beautiful that night. Even the prettiest girl in my school approached me to give me a compliment. People told me I must’ve felt like a queen, but I didn’t. The dress wasn’t my personality. It hugged my body too tight. All the attention startled me. I didn’t feel comfortable. And once again the voices in my head decided to make an appearance.

The next months started to feel like a blur. I felt ugly for no reason again.
I noticed one of my teeth to be smaller than the other. The fact that my hair is not light as all the pretty girls’ started bothering me. I started thinking my head was too big. That my shoulders were too bony for my head. That my eyes weren’t as stunning as other girls’. That my skin wasn’t porcelain perfect. That my front teeth were a little big. That some guys didn’t think I was stunning as other girls.

And all these thoughts may have been of a superficial, attention-seeking bitch, and they may have not mattered if they wouldn’t have interrupted my life as a whole, but they did. As if I had gone back in time, I regained my older destructive habits: spending hours staring at myself in the mirror to pick on my flaws, obsess over little imperfections, crying myself to sleep. I wasn’t enough, I thought, and I didn’t want to tell my best friends because I thought they may accuse me of only seeking attention. But I needed help. I reached a point in which I was constantly thinking that my boyfriend was going to leave me for a younger, prettier girl, even though he is the most loyal, honest person I know. When he told me he thought I was beautiful, I unconsciously talked myself into thinking that was a lie and that I was not pretty enough. Nobody did anything. I was beating myself up by myself. And I can say that I hit pretty damn hard.
Nobody tells you what it’s going backstage in the play of our lives. And certainly not when everything seems to be going fantastically on the show outside. I was dealing with the aftermath of the unhealthy mental habit of putting myself down. And the reason I’m writing this is because last week I found myself crying my eyes out while lying on my bathroom floor. I had spent hours feeling ugly, picking some whiteheads on my face and bleeding because I was too harsh on my skin. Looking back to it today, I know that I don’t want anyone to feel that way ever in their lives. But mostly because, besides the pain that I felt, I realized how big the amount of time I was putting on it. Hours I could’ve been doing what I love and being with the people I love were invested on bad thoughts.

And I wish someone would’ve known.

flowers, red, and nature image