pretty privilege

What I’m going to talk about may not resonate with everyone but just stay with me. You know the saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” well you might think it’s about a love interest but it’s not, it’s about pretty privilege. If you’re wondering what pretty privilege is, let me explain. The Urban dictionary definition of pretty privilege is: “when being pretty/ beautiful gets you better things or opportunities.” If you’ve been insecure your whole life you might not relate, this is more for those of us who have lived on the other side and know the grass is in fact, greener. I’m not saying I haven’t been insecure my whole life about my weight, because I have, but there have definitely been times I was more confident. When I was younger and thinner, I felt like I exercised my pretty privilege fairly often.  I was talking to my old college roommate recently and we both reminisced on our party days when we never thought twice about getting hit on at the bar or having our drinks paid for, we knew these things would happen. Well, fast forward 8 years and 60lbs later, these advances are few and far between. Now, my mentality has totally changed when it comes to dating, I’m much more reserved than I used to be and I’m also oblivious to most advances. I went out with someone this summer to a Phillies game and didn’t realize that we were on a date until he kissed me. I honestly thought he just needed someone local to show him around Philadelphia since he was only here for the summer. Years ago, I would have expected him to ask me out, but that arrogance is gone now.

I did a therapy exercise the other day where I had to think of the last time I felt attractive. After reflecting on this for a while, I could pinpoint the exact occasion. Three summers ago, my friend Kelly and I spent a weekend at the beach right outside Ocean City, New Jersey. One night during our stay we drove across the bridge to find alcohol since Ocean City is a dry town. After dinner and drinks, as we headed back to the hotel Kelly told me that our server had left his phone number for Kelly to give to me when I was in the bathroom (sir if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I never called you). Now to paint y’all a little picture, Kelly is prettier AND skinner than me so when I’m out with her I’m used to getting the “who’s your friend” line from most men. This was a real moment, and not because I need outside validation to feel attractive but also, SOMETIMES I DO. Every person on this earth has wanted to feel desirable to someone else at one point in their lives and I’m sorry, but you won’t convince me otherwise. This got me to thinking, why did I feel so attractive in that moment, was it a weird unspoken competition I had won being pursued by the waiter? No, it’s because 3 years ago I was the thinnest I have been in a long time. I went back and looked at pictures of myself from that summer and was shocked at the differences between then and now.

So what’s wrong with admitting that I feel better and more confident about myself when I’m thin? We’re supposed to love our bodies and accept them for what they are, but I don’t agree with that all the time. I’m not saying you should hate your body but if you gain 50 lbs and it makes you feel awful and you have the ability to lose that weight, what is so bad about doing that? I know it’s really trendy to say that losing the weight isn’t only about the weight. But, what if sometimes it IS about the weight? Sometimes confidence IS tied to appearance, why is that any different than confidence being tied to intelligence? (This is not directed at anyone with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, if you suffer from any of those conditions please, I beg you, go to therapy and work through it with a counselor.) There are obviously exceptions to everything I say, maybe my perspective doesn’t help you or maybe you can’t relate but I can only write about my personal journey with weight loss, from my own perspective and experience. It’s not always losing weight either; some people are more confident when they gain weight. I watched an interview that Beyoncé did a few years ago right after she filmed “Dreamgirls” where she talks about losing 20 lbs for the role so the character progression looked authentic. After filming, she gained the weight back because she said she feels more confident with her curves and that she wanted to represent the average woman because not everyone is a size 2. Losing weight isn’t always a good thing but we as a society seem to always celebrate weight loss, no matter the reason. One of my best friends deals with severe anxiety and when it gets really bad, she can’t eat and will lose 5 lbs in a week. She is naturally petite, so the weight loss is usually really noticeable. It’s not healthy weight loss, its anxiety induced and very concerning. HOWEVER, people always compliment her, why are we trained that way? I’m no exception, I do it too. I’m trying to be better, but I know my first instinct when one of my friends has lost weight is to congratulate them.

If you’ve been around me in the past year since I’ve been at my highest weight, you’ve probably heard me say “when I used to be pretty” in conversation. I realize this is a fairly annoying self-deprecating statement but what can I tell you, sometimes I’m pretty annoying. I feel like I realized overnight that I had lost my pretty privilege but looking back, the process was anything but instant. It happened so slowly that I didn’t realize what was taking place; my friends stopped asking to borrow my clothes or inquiring where I bought something, I would be on a trip and no one would offer up a cute outfit for me to wear to dinner. While no one consciously brought it up, I started to feel isolated from the group, like I wasn’t welcome at the cool kids table anymore. I’m going to be a bridesmaid again for one of my best friends in a few months and I really want to feel confident at this wedding. Does anyone remember when I said before that I shouldn’t set goals for specific events? Well, I’m being a hypocrite again so if anyone wants to jump ship, now’s the time!