Pretty Girls

Supposedly, the first step to finding love is learning to love oneself. The way well-meaning hot girls say it makes it sound so easy. But loving yourself isn’t simple by any means.

I try to look only at the good in my face. Looking in the mirror, I force myself to fixate on the brightness of my eyes and the thick softness of my hair. I keep my attention away from the overfull cheeks and the missing cheekbones.

Once in junior high, my school introduced an anti-bullying campaign. Part of the effort to was a self-esteem exercise. In our class of twenty, every student received a sheet of paper at the end with a compliment from each of the other students written on it. Sarah and Rachel and the other girls who weren’t me had cute notes with hearts drawn around them about their hair and eyes and how pretty they were. My notes were more along the lines of how funny and how smart I was.

“Why aren’t I pretty?” I cried to my father that night, clutching a crumpled tear-stained pink piece construction paper with “What We Like About Maggie Is…” written in block letters at the top.

“You’re better than just pretty,” my father reassured me. “You’re smart and kind and funny and that will take you a hell of a lot further than pretty in life.”

Now I’m in college. Smart definitely did take me far, but sometimes I still wish I could have been pretty. I have learned to draw on cheekbones, so it’s not all bad.

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