I had a thought just now. What if, instead of wanting to be “pretty” we wanted to be smart? We wanted to be compassionate? We wanted to improve the lives of ourselves and of others? What if, instead of spending thousands of dollars on makeup, clothes and hair to make ourselves look like what we think society wants us to look like…we spend the money on getting clean water for towns in Africa? We donated to charities helping to find a cure for AIDS, cancer and muscular dystrophy? What if we spent it on travelling the world and learning about our fellow human beings or even just doing simple things like having fun with our friends? What if, instead of trying to be “normal” or be like everyone else, we embraced our differences and our uniqueness? What if we told ourselves that our flaws are ok? What if we were ok with our situation, no matter how different from other people’s it might be.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the amount of money I spend on makeup, skin products, hair products…all things to try and make myself look “better.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look your best. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing makeup completely or liking clothes (though sometimes I do get so overwhelmed with it I just want to throw everything away and be rid of it). It’s finding that line and ensuring we’re not doing all of the above in an attempt to be considered valuable by the world. It shouldn’t be a mask to hide who we really are or because we think we’re not enough. I’ve said many times before how living with a disability has made me try and overcompensate by like 1,000% to look a certain way to everyone else. I’ve used makeup and clothes to try and portray an image of myself to the world…the image that I’m not disabled; that I’m just like everyone else. When the reality is, I’m not. I have something that makes me different. I have something that, on the outside, makes me “imperfect.” And you know what? On top of that, I don’t have clear skin, I have bloodshot eyes because they don’t close all the way at night when I sleep (because I have MD), I don’t have the body of a model. But you know what else? That’s ok. I know I’m pretty but if pretty was a person I could talk to I would say, “You know what, I’m ok with not having you.” Looks fade and if you define yourself by those and spend your life trying to look perfect or be considered beautiful, you’ll find yourself looking in the mirror years down the line realizing you haven’t really lived. Finding that the only beauty you ever really needed to find was already there…inside of you.
And wherever I’ve just said “you” or “we” here, I mean myself. I’m the one who needs to listen to my own words more than anyone and constantly remind myself true beauty comes from within, disability or not. I may not totally believe it right now but really, no, I don’t want to be pretty. I want to be a lot more than that.