Was there ever a time (including currently) where you weren’t happy with the way you looked?
Every day. When I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror and see this girl staring back at me. Some days I can point out things I like about her, and other days, it’s a battle to keep looking. Every day is a struggle to accept myself. I often feel like an imposter in my own body. After high school, things changed for me so fast, my mind couldn’t catch up fully. I realized I wanted to unsubscribe to whiteness, stop hating myself, and feel good. I started doing things on my own terms and not because I thought others would approve or like it. I started defining what pretty was for myself. I went from feeling like an ugly duckling to this girl people only seem to notice today for being “pretty”. It’s such an odd feeling. When I leave my house or go online, people define me as pretty, model, beauty. But it was not always this way, in fact it never was. I was always the opposite of pretty. When I look in the mirror to this day, despite how many people tell me they think I am beautiful, I still see a girl who never felt pretty. Mental battles are always the hardest to fight. You’re always your worst critic and I’m still learning to change that today.
THE POLITICS OF PRETTY:
Using my personal struggles in social activism has really helped me learn to accept myself though. I understand that beauty grabs attention, a pretty face sells. But for me, it’s about being more than pretty. It’s about pushing the limits of pretty. If my face and beauty will grab people’s attention, it’s then about what I will do with the attention and power once I have it. You see my photo. You see a pretty face. I have your attention now. In that moment, I know I can forward any message I want, a message beyond pretty, and I can say what needs to be said, and what others are afraid to say. I can use the voice behind the face. That how you make personal, political. That’s how you make pretty political.
Pooja Patel is a Psychology student, content creator and fashion enthusiast. You can follow her work on IG and Twitter @thepoojaproject or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org