It would be simple, saying it was my parents who didn’t tell me I’m beautiful. But they did. Or it was my lovers that didn’t say it enough. But they did. Yet… I never believed it.

It would also be easy, saying it’s because I don’t fit into some standards. Too short. Too round. Face not the right shape. Hair indistinct colour. Body changed by bearing two (not small, may I say) babies, illness and surgeries. Genetic predispositions that may not be in my favour. But I have to be honest, not just for me, but for all other women I know – it is not just that.

Furthermore, the shame of it is that it’s not also the lack of education or consciousness. Or keeping in mind all the teachings of what really matters. Oh no. There is hardly anything more it could be done on the conscious level. Yet, it can never shut down the insecurity. The self-consciousness. The shame of not being beautiful.

Yes, of not being beautiful. Because no matter how hard I try, wherever I look, I’m reminded that social standards are not met by me. Never were. Never will be.

And maybe for myself I could just forget it. But I have a daughter. I have a mother. And I see how it carries on, from generation to generation, the damage of always thinking you lack something essential, because you don’t look good enough. And you never do. I know that. Even women I think are gorgeous always find something wrong about themselves. I’ve had friends that I thought are just perfect. None of them though it themselves.

Can it be something we just push aside, saying it’s vain, when it poisons such a big part of humanity? I don’t like mirrors, because they remind me of how I look. I don’t like my pictures because of the same reason. I look at the clothes that I like and I don’t like myself in them. And, to be honest, I’m doing ok. I don’t really care. I have no reason to. I have noone to charm with my looks. I go nowhere where I would be expected to look beautiful. I only have myself to please with my looks. And it’s enough. Enough to be aware.

If I, with all my knowledge, all my training, all my tries and good experience, don’t feel ok and am alarmed every time looks are mentioned, how can I not think of women less fortunate than me? Those who maybe are told openly they don’t look good enough. That they must loose weight or gain it. That their hair colour or style is not modern. That they are too old or that they show their age. They have boobs too big or too small. They don’t dress the right way. Walk the right way.

I cannot forget them. They are in me, every moment when I’m aware of my own insecurities.

And every time the looks, the beauty, are what essentially means – am I lovable?

Alenka H., 2021

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