A.k.a Breaking the “Pretty Girl Complex”
Written while listening to: “Ophelia” — Lumineers
You never hear anyone say that Middle School was the highlight of their lives. Because 1: those people are clearly psychopaths, run away. Run away fast. And 2: Middle School tends to be the absolute freakin’ worst.
None of use have quite grown into our bodies. We’re all sweaty, pimply, greasy messes. It’s kind of like puberty is actually a demon possessing all of us and Middle School is the only way to exorcise it out.
Like most people, I blocked out most of middle school about an hour after I graduated. But I have this one very distinct memory from when I was in 7th grade that’s always stuck with me.
One of the popular girls — let’s call her Lauren because my class probably had more Laurens than there were kids in the actual class — was sitting on her boyfriend’s lap. She was a raven-haired beauty who looked like she should be on a Billabong ad that made me question my sexuality. And he was attractive in a way that I don’t remember because at that age, I avoided eye contact with any marginally attractive male.
I remember pausing for a sec to watch these 7th grade royals, much like a wildlife documentarian — just trying to understand their behavior…or like Ariel in The Little Mermaid: (“Wish I could beeee, part of that worrllllld…”)
And it was then I remember my little 13-year-old brain thinking VERY nonchalantly, “that will never be me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” Like it was a fact.
I wasn’t one of those kids who made it their life goal to be popular. I mean hell, my bowl cut, crooked bangs and low ponytail that looked like a British Soldier’s back in the Revolutionary War or a very advanced rattail oozed lack of giving a shit.
But this memory stuck with me because it was the moment I kind of accepted that I didn’t think I ever could be “one of them.” In my mind, I wasn’t a cool girl. I wasn’t a chill girl. And most importantly, I wasn’t a pretty girl.
I call it “The Pretty Girl Complex” — which is the opposite of what it implied because I said so.
The Pretty Girl Complex | (State of mind • and adjective maybe? Sure, adj)
The mindset that there are the pretty girls out there, and you are not one of them.
You cannot have what they have, or do what they do, not even if you own a pair of velour Juicy sweats.
No, you can’t grow your bangs out long — you’re just a bangs girl. You can try…but it won’t change anything I promise you (see “Juicy Sweats.”)
I weirdly wish the popular girls in my middle school years had been dicks to me. I wish they had been the biggest jerks, like cool-kids-in-an-90’s-movie characters you just want to see fall in front of a bus.
Fact is? They weren’t. But I weirdly wish they had been. Because that would mean my lack of popularity and this negative self-image I developed was “justified” and noticed by others too…not self-inflicted.
Because fast forward to now after puberty was very kind to me and I learned how to manage my sweating: Looking back at the popular girls who seemed to have been blessed by Aphrodite herself and the god-of-social-skills back in junior high and high school? They weren’t these great beings I thought they were.
The kids who I thought were too cool to even think about talking to in high school? Actually…we could have been good friends, and I’ve since made friends who are at that same “level” of social hierarchy. And all the guys I self-sabotaged myself around because I thought they were way outta my league? Turns out not only were they in my league? But they also weren’t above me socially. I was just putting myself below them socially.
But that pretty girl complex is something powerful, man.
Whenever Im told I’m good looking, I mentally snort-laugh.
Anytime I get asked out — because yeah, that somehow actually happens a lot these days, don’t ask how, I don’t know — there’s still that pang of, “…wait, me?”
Whenever I’m in a mutually flirtationship with a guy, I either sabotage it or psych myself out, just waiting for them to drop me for someone better, someone wittier, someone prettier.
Because I may be a pretty girl on the outside. But on the inside, I’m still stuck with that Pretty Girl Complex voice in the back of my head:
But you’re still never the pretty girl.
I’m combatting this voice more and more, a voice that either sounds like myself, Frank Underwood, or Danny Devito depending on the day.
Because the Pretty Girl Complex is a state of mind; not a fact, not an end-all-be-all, and hell, not even a state of appearance.
And more than that? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy meant to keep you down. Because you can be a pretty girl, but have a dull or shitty personality that makes you about as attractive as a garbage bag.
It’s a hard mindset to break. But I’m working on it. I’m breaking the “Pretty Girl Complex” by finally believing, yeah: I like the way I look — I guarantee it. And Im starting to get there. Because the fact is? It doesn’t matter where on the “pretty girl” spectrum you are physically. Have the confidence of one? And you’ll be the prettiest goddamn girl in the world.
Originally published on Medium.com
Featured image made by me! ©hiyeshello