There will be days where I am so drenched in my own insecurity that I will forget how to breathe without suffocating on it. But, not matter how consumed I am by self-loathing, don’t you dare tell me I’m beautiful.
No matter how many Dove campaigns you have seen, “You are beautiful” will never be the answer when it in itself is the problem.
You cannot eradicate the insecurity of feeling insufficiently attractive by backhandedly reinforcing the importance of physical attractiveness. It creates a twisted pedestal for women by indadvertedly saying “It’s okay, but it’s only okay because you are beautiful.”
Even if it “works,” even if you are able to inspire some confidence about my appearance, those three words still aren’t even close to a solution. Why is it so important to be beautiful? Why are millions of dollars spent on campaigns to make girls feel beautiful? Why do we hang up post-its in girls’ bathrooms and sharpee it on walls? Is society saying that beauty is the highest thing a girl can hope to achieve?
Because when men are insecure, they are not told that they are handsome. They are told that they have the world at their fingertips. They are told that they can accomplish anything.
So why do we tell girls that they are beautiful?
I would rather you tell me I’m kind. Tell me I’m funny or intelligent or thoughtful or insightful. Tell me you love the way I read the New York Times, not the way my eyes crinkle when I smile. Tell me you love how I care about our GDP (it’s up 4% this quarter so can the fed please raise interest rates now?). Tell me you like the way I hold doors open or pick up trash on the streets, but don’t tell me I’m beautiful.
Tell me I am worth more than my image.
Maybe, just maybe, girls wouldn’t be so damn insecure if we stopped perpetuating the importance of beauty.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with the martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it.