I’m Not Going to Your Pretty Party (But Thanks for the Invite)

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When I was 5 years old, I went to a friend’s house with long curly hair and left with the Dorothy Hamil haircut. With little to no convincing, my friend put lotion in my hair to prepare me for “my wedding” or “school” or whatever engagements sound grown up to  a 5-year-old.

I never questioned what the scissors gracing my scalp had to do with impending adulthood. I was young, trusting, and promised a strawberry fruit roll up.

I remember looking in the mirror and feeling nothing towards my new appearance. The fear only set in when my mother rang the doorbell and I found myself underneath the table, tightly clutching said fruit roll up.

I went to school the next day and a kid told me I looked like a boy. I cried because I assumed this meant I was ugly. I cried because, at 5 years old, I was already a failure to my gender.

Cut to the present and my hair is almost as short, and almost as styling, as Dorothy Hamil’s. I barely wear makeup, I only respect a utilitarian handbag, and I find shopping to be a frivolous chore that is better left to my boyfriend.

Needless to say, I don’t feel pretty on the day to day.

Needless to say, I don’t really try to.

As a “woman,” I resent society’s pressure to tell me what traits I should care about. I resent that the admittance of not feeling pretty is immediately met with well-meaning  but generic coos of “yes you are.”

I appreciate your insistence that I have value, people in my life, but that’s not really what I’m questioning.

Because, in my mind, pretty is a pretty thing that exists in pretty people. It affects the way they move, speak, and stylize themselves in ways that are both put upon and inherent.

I do not move prettily. I move like you should get the fuck out of my way.

I do not speak prettily. The word “fuck” is not a curse word to me. It’s a second language.

I do not stylize myself prettily. Again, I repeat the phrase, “utilitarian handbag.” Also fuck.

It is not self-deprecating to see pretty as an adjective that belongs more strongly to someone else. It is self-deprecating to cry when some kid on the playground asserts that your appearance is wrong for both your gender and your identity.

It is self-deprecating to believe that because of your genitals, you have to feel pretty or make an effort to be so.

I feel no ill will towards pretty or the friend that cut my hair almost 18 years ago. She knew me before I knew myself. She knew that I was something other than “pretty.”

Planning on Planned Parenthood (And Other Womanly Concerns)

Planning on Planned Parenthood                                                            (And Other Womanly Concerns)

Growing up, I always loved to think about the future:

What I wanted to look like, who I wanted to marry, the job that I wanted to have, and what I hoped to earn.

I was a smart kid and I knew the world wasn’t perfect. I knew that women earned less than men, were less safe walking down the street, and even had to defend their use of South Park references from time to time to ignorant teenage boys.

Or maybe that was just me.

Needless to say, I knew the world was getting better. I knew that progress was inevitable and it was only a matter of time before my sisters and I could get that metaphorical corner office and “have it all.” The First Wives Club was a favorite flick of mine and if Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn could recognize that the patriarchy didn’t “own them,” then so I could I.*

And I did. Until I turned 23 and realized that I only had three years left of my father’s health insurance. Only three years left having the assurance that I can afford a gynecologist.

Only three years left of not needing Planned Parenthood as an affordable option for female healthcare. Of having $20 copays, free birth control, and the safe feeling of knowing that my decisions as a responsible female adult aren’t punishable by death.

Or at least, subject to incredibly hostile twitter rants.

You see as society progresses, the Fearful fight harder to keep things the same. To dial it back to a simpler time before gender was fluid, non-satirical race jokes weren’t racist, and women were getting black market abortions and dying from complications.

I guess it’s selective memory that made America “great.”

If I sound angry it’s because I’m scared shitless and being scared shitless doesn’t warrant a pleasant “feminine” response.

It doesn’t warrant electing leaders who defend terrorists. It doesn’t excuse consumers who can’t tell the difference between a doctored video and actual news.

It doesn’t stop people from having daughters/mothers/girlfriends/wives who might someday need assistance from Planned Parenthood if they don’t already.

It shouldn’t change your priorities as a decent person because it doesn’t change mine.

And I’ve never been to a Planned Parenthood.

*Reference to the scene and Lesley Gore song that made me a baby feminist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_oFL_b719g