Why My Parents Never Called Me Pretty

Throughout my 19 years of life, I've been called many things by the couple who raised me: funny, perceptive, hard-working. Not to mention the nasty ones, too, at times: irresponsible, clumsy and careless. But the word "pretty" has never come out of their mouths, and it's starting to become as foreign as Mandy Moore in the music industry. 

It's not that they're two illiterate adults who can't seem to pick up an Oxford dictionary and understand the meaning of what these six letters mean. I know, because they have praised gorgeous movie stars like the classic Audrey Hepburn or the elegant Angelina Jolie for their endless beauty. They have certainly whispered to me how beautiful and elegant the woman sitting next to us on a train was. 

It could be because my parents themselves don't think of themselves as physically attractive. On top of that, their having studied biology for many years does not help either, as they might think that the chance of getting better-looking offsprings would be one-in-a-gazillion. 

As a college student, this might come off as a childish and unconfident way of thinking. But to be honest, it's a truly hidden concept that we can never walk away from. We are constantly bombarded by movies, songs and social media that emphasize the importance of physical attraction. We've seen how beautiful girls are the quickest ones to find love in Hollywood movies, as they have more fishes in the sea to fish from than the rest of us. We've seen how sexy girls are able to travel and have more fun while earning the big bucks on social media. Or even how the most badass looking singers on Billboard Top Charts could cry over a beautiful girl as they're describing the depth of their ocean-blue eyes.

I had no issue with the mundane need to be called "pretty" until my teenage years started and the boys in my high school started confessing their cringe-worthy, puppy love feelings to my prettiest friends. I could tell that my friends were living out a romantic film set in the 90s when they went on dates after dates and as they received good morning texts from their new baes. While I, on the other hand, could only imagine sitting on a beach while watching the sunset with Cody Simpson in my head.

"You should never be proud of being pretty. I think that the world needs more than just pretty girls to touch people's minds and save lives."

Until one night, while I was laying in bed, and my mother laid her head down next to me and spoke the most powerful words that changed my views of this superficial world. She whispered softly, "You should never be proud of being pretty. I think that the world needs more than just pretty girls to touch people's minds and save lives." From that moment on, I brushed off all of the "if onlys" that I had every time I witnessed a cute guy talking to a pretty girl at a party. 

I now have realized that a part of why my parents never called me beautiful is because they don't want it to be the only thing that I can offer to this world. Rupi Kaur mentioned in one of her poems, "i am sorry i made it sound as though something as simple as what you're born with is the most you have to be proud of when your spirit has crushed mountains."

While being born to this world with a good symmetrical face and perfectly shaped eyebrows is not sinful, it's not as powerful as making an impact on this world. If the women who made remarkable changes to this world like Rosalind Franklin, Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai stressed so much about their outward appearance, young intelligent girls today would not believe that they could become something more than just beautiful faces on papers.

We as women should not feel less perfect than we already are when no one has told us that we're not pretty or even hot. We are all wonderfully made with remarkable skills, intellectual capability and unique strengths. Some of us have the power to influence people through our silver tounges, some of us can cure people of their sickness and some of us can create the most beautiful images that touch people's hearts.

At the end of the day, it's never wrong to do our hair or put on the brightest color of lipstick in the morning before heading out to the concrete jungle that's filled with millions of opportunities. It's never wrong to take compliments from people around us who tell us we look beautiful (just not dudes out on the street shouting from their white vans). But it's certainly wrong to let people treat us as if we're just beautiful objects when we are, in fact, so much more than that. 

Images: 1, 2, 3