She looks prettiest when her skin is soft and her cheeks are a little rosy, when her lashes are dark and long, when she looks natural and honest and dewy. She feels prettiest when the sun’s been out and she’s had a lot of genuine laughs and enough sleep and a little bit of fresh air. And who knows, maybe it’s the cold weather or how it gets dark so early or that she’s been sleeping too much but she hasn’t been feeling pretty lately.
Sometimes she’ll go out and get all dolled up and spend time on her make up and on her hair. She’ll put on a fun outfit and her big chunky black boots that make her feel tall and confident. She’ll play drinking games with her roommates who’ll rush off at exactly 10:30 to get to a party where it’s too dark and too foggy and she doesn’t know anyone there. She’ll feel too awkward or too drunk or too sober or too tired. On her way out someone she hardly knows will say hi to her and hug her and tell her she looks pretty.
Every once in a while she’ll go on a date. Her roommates will pick out her outfit. She’ll shower and blow dry her hair. Her friend will curl it for her. She’ll get picked up. Some guys will take her to dinner. Others won’t. It doesn’t matter, they will always end up at his place with a bottle of wine. She’ll feel lonely or excited or apathetic or nervous, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s right away or sometimes it’s after 2 glasses of wine or sometimes it isn’t until the next morning when they wake up half naked and half hungover, but he’ll always tell her she looks pretty.
Her roommates will come home drunk from a party to find her at her desk cutting her own bangs. A youtube tutorial will be open in front of her. One or two of them will try to help. They’ll look at her surprisingly not entirely botched hair and tell her that change is good – that it suits her. She’ll feel frantic and insecure and irresponsible. She’ll post a selfie to instagram that she doesn’t really like, but it doesn’t matter. She knows strangers will tell her she looks pretty.
She’ll come home for spring break while all of her friends are away on white sand beaches or exploring Europe or sailing away on extravagant cruises. Her mom will laugh at her new bangs. Her dad will talk to her about tuition and loans and rent she can’t afford. Her parents will come home from work and find her in bed. She’ll feel tired and bored and overwhelmed and in the way. She’ll pull her hair back because it’s greasy. At dinner her mom will tell her that with her bangs pinned back she looks pretty.
And she likes hearing it. It makes her feel good for a minute or two. She looks prettiest when her skin is soft and her cheeks are a little rosy, when her lashes are dark and long, when she looks natural and honest and dewy. But she doesn’t feel it. She feels prettiest when the sun’s been out and she’s had a lot of genuine laughs and enough sleep and a little bit of fresh air. She doesn’t feel pretty. She feels tired. She feels bored. She feels unmotivated and lazy. She feels uninspired. She feels lonely. She feels crowded. She feels lost. She feels sad. And she feels stupid for feeling this way. So she cries and she cries and she cries, but none of it matters. She looks pretty when she cries.