You’d be prettier if…


adjective: pretty; comparative adjective: prettier; superlative adjective: prettiest
(of a person, especially a woman or child) attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful.
“a pretty little girl with an engaging grin”
I’m pissed off. Extremely pissed off and I’ve been seething about it all bloody day. I’ll warn you now, this might not be safe for work given that when I’m this pissed off, my language becomes peppered with expletives. Never the C word (although that has its time and its place) but the rest is fair game. In the past I’ve written about body image, about my own fluctuating weight and subsequent self belief/worth that seems to be intrinsically linked to the numbers written in the label of my knickers. I’ve written about how some media streams seem to perpetuate images of women that are either overtly and overly sexual when they don’t need to be (selling showers – get a naked woman in the ad) or have images of women so obviously edited to make them look thinner/taller/blonder/whiter (delete as applicable). Sadly, I’m now used to this having grown up with it happening around me. I’m used to looking at a picture of a woman and thinking knowing that the image I’m seeing is heavily edited. I’m used to products being advertised to make me have plumper lips, fuller lashes, smoother skin, shinier nails and I like that I mostly ignore them because I don’t really like wearing make up. I wore minimal make up on my wedding day and that was a very special day so I’m sure as shit not going to faff around like that every day! All that being said, I love a bit of face paint. Paint is soothing and having someone take the time to paint you is quite therapeutic. I loved the sugar skull I had painted on me earlier this year – and the body paint we did later was also awesome fun. I loved being stroked and caressed and patted. Call me a pleasure hound if you will but who doesn’t like a good back rub or a massage?
Oh yeah...

Oh yeah…

What got me fucking livid today isn’t the marketing or the adverts. It isn’t some new celebrity image that has been manipulated to make an already slender woman look skeletal. No. It is the frankly, fucking rude, comments I have had heard over the last two days by a colleague. I work in an open plan office so there is nowhere to hide or shut the door even if we wanted to. I’m used to it having worked there for almost 2 years. I’m sure most people in such an environment will agree that you get pretty damn good at getting on with your business and give everyone else little to no attention unless engaged in conversation or meetings. Yes? Good. So, picture the scene if you will: sitting at my PC and I have an eyelash in my eye. It hurts and I need to get rid of it. The only way to do it is to slip my glasses off and have a damn good rub of the affected eye to rid it off the jagged piece of steel that is masquerading as my eyelash. Glasses on the table and my vision is shot. I’m blind as a bat without my glasses and I’ve worn them since I was 11. A colleague, on seeing my face sans specs exclaims “Oh! You shouldn’t wear glasses – you are so much prettier without them on”. What. The. Fuck? Not only was the comment unwarranted and unwanted, why would I decide whether to wear glasses (that I need) on the grounds that they might make me less “pretty”. Sure, I could wear contact lenses and in the past I have done. I don’t like them – they make my eyes itch, I have dry eyes and I’m not a fan of the whole process of taking them out. I stuck my unpretty glasses back on my nose, made some comment to that effect and got on with my job.
Girls who wear glasses...probably can't see without them

Girls who wear glasses…probably can’t see without them

I’ll admit, I had a whine to The Husband last night about the specs comment. He has always known me with my glasses (and when I wear lenses, he knows there is a damn good reason for them) and after a short debate I wore them when we got married. I looked fucking gorgeous on my wedding day, glasses and all. Glasses comment done, I went to bed not really thinking any more about it. Now, my routine in the morning hasn’t really changed in the last 15 years. Get up, pee, have a shower and wash my hair. It’s my thing, my wake up plan and I like having clean hair especially seeing as most nights I sweat like a 300 pound swamp monster and I wake up looking, interesting, shall we say? This morning was no different. Swamp hair went into the shower and 15 minutes later it was clean, towel dried and up in the ponytail plait. I can’t be arsed blow drying my hair for a couple of reasons. I don’t have the patience, or the time to sit there and comb out the sections, pin it up and point the dryer at it. I also leave before The Husband is awake and while he can sleep through an industrial fire alarm (seriously, he can and did in his old house) I’m not keen on stumbling round in the dark and getting his grumpus before the caffeine and nicotine have kicked in. So, dressed, bespectacled and breakfasted I drove to work.

Yeah – I suck at sight tests

Work is casual. Jeans, long T’s and a long line cardigan is my uniform of choice. I might stick boots on and I’m wearing my wedding earrings seeing as I love them so much. But I’m presentable, comfortable and professional. No butt skimming, cleavage bearing for me – besides, it is November and I prefer being warm. Once I’ve had tea, checked my email and answered about a dozen phone calls I have 5 minutes to catch up with other team members. Aforementioned colleague is round my side of the desks for a stapler and on their way past, taps my ponytail and says, without any hesitation “You shouldn’t wear your hair like that, you looked much prettier when it was down yesterday” and then continues back to their seat. Nothing could have prepared me for that comment. I’m guessing my face went into another WTF expression because someone else asked me if I was ok. In true British fashion, I answered that of course I was ok and set about a slow burning fury. HOW DARE THEY! It’s my fucking hair, I’ll do with it what I please.

Rocking a pigtail at the Louvre with The Husband

After a good hour, my fury boiled over. I did what any self-respecting mardy arse would do – I posted my fury on my Facebook account. Not because I wanted sympathy and certainly not because I wanted anyone to tell me I was pretty (I’ll come to that in a minute) but because I needed something to vent my anger at. I probably could or should have responded to the comments but an open plan office isn’t conducive to such things and in truth, I hate confrontation. I get wobbly legs and my voice goes all shaky…and I cry. I wasn’t expecting people to post quite such levels of support and agreement. Some of the comments were like this:
  • It would be like approaching a colleague at a social occasion and suggesting ways they could be better at their job!
  • You should have thanked them for pointing out how they would like you to look and from now on you will endeavour to try to please them further…cock womble
  • You could have suggested that him/her would look better in leather underwear, but you leave your opinions on people’s appearance out of work. (Also a favourite)
  • On the glasses comment…that’s like saying someone would be prettier without their hearing aid!! Not cool…
  • It’s ridiculous, I get it a lot. I have so been told that out of my uniform and in my regular clothes I look much more attractive etc.

Thank you lovely friends. I’ve not posted all of them – they are there if you feel the need to look but I have awesome friends.

However, the fact still remains that I’ve been told on two occasions that I could make myself prettier by changing something about my appearance. Prettier. Why does this upset me so much? Because I like how I look. I don’t really care about being perfectly turned out every single minute of the day and I really don’t think that my life would be that much different if I did take up the “advice” I was given. I know a couple of things though – my hair when loose is a pain. Its fine and flyaway and gets fluffy and messy and distracts me from what I go to work to do: run a building. I also know my hair is just the fur on my head – it is not a daily fashion accessory. I like my glasses. They help me see, allow me to drive legally, I can negotiate crowds and stairs without feeling like I’m going to fall or be knocked over. I can see my husband singing and my friends smiles when we demolish cheese and biscuits. At the end of the day, I take my glasses off and fall asleep, I don’t have to fart arse around in the bathroom in front of the mirror taking my lenses out. And I don’t have to stop everything if a lens falls out. Why? BECAUSE I WEAR GLASSES!

Husband still able to kiss wife despite wearing glasses

Husband still able to kiss wife despite wearing glasses

So, as a final word, hear this. All the people who feel the need to comment on the appearance of others when an opinion has not been sought, I have some advice for you. DON’T. Keep your mouth shut. There, it’s not difficult. Your opinion, when required will be asked for. I don’t dress for work in the morning thinking “how will people cope with my lack of prettiness with my ponytail and glasses” and I’m pretty sure most people dress for themselves and how it will help them do their daily tasks. When I feel like dressing up and I come into work in a dress, if you think I look good, say so. Pay a genuine compliment. Keep the sleaze out of it (no need to feign shock and express your surprise that I have legs – they have been there before and stop my arse from dragging on the floor). If I look rough and it happens, keep your comments to yourself. Maybe ask if I’m ok or just shut the fuck up and bring me tea, that will mean more than a platitude or a snarky comment.

4 responses to “You’d be prettier if…

  1. Pretty, according to the dictionaries I have to hand, also means ‘moderate(ly) or fair(ly)’ as in ‘it’s pretty good, but not wonderful’. It originates in Middle English – prate – which means cunning, gallant or fine. That came from Old English – praett – meaning a trick, wile or prank. Would you wish to be fairly good at being a wily, cunning trickster? Nope – nor me either.

    PS: as I write, my hair is tied back and I’m wearing my specs. Not pretty – thank goodness!

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