There comes a day in every girl’s life when she realizes she is not the prettiest princess in the room. I’m not sure exactly when that day was for me, but I know I was very young. Now raising a daughter, I can tell you every girl is born into this world knowing she is the most gorgeous, amazing creature ever. Every body part, including her tummy, is something to be examined (and possibly chewed on) with delight. Jelly Bean is 2.5 years old and watching her frolic after bath time tonight assures me she has not yet lost that fairy magic. But while some of us keep that wonder a bit longer than others – I think having parents who adore every inch of you helps – somewhere between babyhood and girlhood, it’s gone. Extinguished like a candle under a cup. The candle is still there, of course, but it no longer lights our way.
Before we even learn words like “glass ceiling,” we learn two irreconcilable facts: 1) Beauty is our currency, and 2) We will never be beautiful enough. And every girl (and let’s be honest, many boys, too) then has to decide how to make sense out of this nonsense.
I’ve seen a lot of different reactions to this:
- The pretty girls who are pretty enough and determined enough to try to keep climbing that ladder. Maybe, just maybe, if they work out a little longer, eat less dessert, buy a designer dress, get implants, and have just the right hair, they will be rechristened Prettiest Princess Ever. Or at least the prettiest princess in their particular room.
- The average girls who try to make the best of what they’ve got and then fight like crazy to be the smartest, funniest, or wittiest instead (never realizing these ladders go to the same nowhere as the pretty ladder; no achievement will ever be deemed “enough” either).
- The average girls who try to take themselves completely out of the game. They aren’t much into makeup, hair, or clothes. Many (successfully) just try to blend in. Tall poppies get cut down, after all. And you can’t mourn the loss of something you never had, right?
- The girls who rage against the box they’ve been put in by getting Mohawks and tattoos, buzz cuts, and f*** you attitudes — and yet are still unable to hide the beauty they were born with.
- The girls who are afraid of their own beauty. Many have been abused or bullied. Often their beauty, or lack thereof, was cited as the cause — a way to place the blame for the evil committed against them, on them. Too many believe it.
- The girls that society marginalizes for a variety of defects: too fat, too thin, too much nose, too little lip, too pale, too brown, too shy, too talkative, too too.