You don't owe us pretty.
In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about the benefits of being nobody and how our desire to be somebody has us focusing on perfection instead of practice. We avoid failing—an imperfect act—and, thus, miss out on our only true shot at doing work that matters.
So being nobody can be a great place to begin. There are fewer eyes on you as you figure out the art you want to create.
A few days ago, I said to someone that I don’t think I’m attractive by today’s fleeting beauty standards. They fairly did a backbend to convince me otherwise.
I’m not and that’s okay. And my vocalization of that fact was not intended to draw out a counter-argument or reassurance for some deep-seated insecurities. It was a statement about the ways that I am able to appreciate myself beyond the limits of being pretty.
Because I don’t owe the world pretty and neither do you.
Just like you don’t owe the world whiteness, thinness, being able-bodied, being neurotypical, wealthiness, heteronormativity, or any other of the limited set of ideals that have been created for no other reason than to control–and capitalize off of–imperfect bodies.
I recently taught a marketing masterclass titled No, You Don’t Need a Photoshoot: Where to Begin When You’re Ready to Build (or Uplevel) You Coaching Business.
The premise was simple: know who you’re creating something for.
And know that feeding into the cult(ure) of pretty—or whiteness or thinness or wealthiness—is an act of violence. It is using your platform and awareness as a coach to make people feel bad about who they are and what they have.
Of course, this is a great way to make money.
Everywhere we look there are reminders of how we could be better versions of ourselves. Not by playing up the features that make us interesting. Crooked noses, and flabby bellies, and lilting walks, and strange brains, and dark skin, and gender-queerness, and clever money practices.
No, by watering ourselves down to fit into “pretty.”
By prioritizing—with our money, attention, and time—something that we have little control over and, what’s more, will probably not be what we’re remembered for.
So we need to unlearn our desire to be pretty. We need to bring ourselves back to a place where what matters is the art we create. Where what matters are the people we can serve at the edges doing interesting and essential work.
Of course, we are aesthetic creatures. And need to dress and groom our bodies as we see fit. That is fine.
And we get to define what is worthwhile in those practices. What allows us to feel most like ourselves. And, in doing so, give other people permission to do the same.
You don’t owe us pretty.
So what else do you have to offer?