having bad days doesn’t make you weak. having moments of complete despair doesn’t make you any less of a person. the strongest people I know are the ones who acknowledge their humanity, who understand that it’s okay - necessary, even - to have days when all they can do is cry and cry like their heart is breaking into little irreparable pieces.
I don’t think you’re unloveable for believing yourself to be fragile. I think you’re the most beautiful human being I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Pretty is a six-letter word that can’t encompass your entire being in its arms. You were born to a mother who wore pain like trees wear their rings, as marks of fierce bravery and battle cries. You almost split her insides open coming out, wailing so hard the plaster cracked, but she grinned and bore it like a champion, even though the walls of her womb felt like one giant cigarette burn that no one cared enough to put out.
You are Icarus incarnate, with a body stitched from wings, flying toward the sun every day no matter how low the storm clouds hover. Pretty is not a synonym for learning how to put together a body that fights itself every day with pocket knives, like assembling letters to form words that flame in the mouth. That’s called survival. Pretty is an ugly word. It leaves behind a bitter residue that apologies cannot erase. Pretty is just an excuse for playing darts with a woman’s confidence.
When told you are not pretty, always remember how your body expanded to fit its widening cage, its blooming hips, how the growing pains were less like pain and more like cracking fault lines. How your body turned itself inside out and spilled over and over again. Getting emptied is not pretty. It is dark and wounding and it requires strength enough to move mountains.
On your worst days do not look in the mirror and call yourself pretty. Call yourself trying, call yourself surviving, call yourself learning how to get through a day, a week, a month or year. Call yourself still learning. Pretty is just six letters for lipstick, false eyelashes, combs for hair that never gets tangled, not for women who earn a victory every day just managing to exist.
When told you are not pretty, do not suck in your stomach. Pretty is a discriminatory word, but having a body that knows what it wants and gets what it wants is not a hate crime. It’s a healing hymn.
Don’t forget how trees shake their last leaves in winter like they’re shedding skin from the old year. Shed pretty. Shed it now. Teach yourself to replace it with heart-wrenching, brilliant, clever, artistic, unique, understanding, fighting. Always living.
When told you are not pretty, don’t fall in love with the ground. Get back up. This is not an apocalypse; this is not the end of the world. A six-letter word doesn’t have the power to burn down every building in site or freeze the entire world in epic proportions. Your body is not wreckage or refuse left over from a world on fire. Your body is just fine.
Look in the mirror. Tell yourself, Pretty is not me. Pretty is an ugly concept. I am more.
Say it. Say it.
1. Love so hard it feels like anchors opening up your skin from the inside out.
2. Don’t practice knife-throwing unless the target is your ex’s heart.
3. Self-immolation is useless unless you’re able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix after the burning is done.
4. Drive through fields of fog in the early morning in order to understand how sometimes love is blind; turn the radio on full blast in order to understand how every once in awhile, it can be deaf too.
5. Never fall asleep on a stained mattress because the last couple left their sadness and bad luck spilled all over it.
6. Don’t ever force a budding flower apart before it’s due to open. You’ll realize the significance of this once you take a look at your veins, then a second look at the razor.
7. Every New Year, tear your old self from its hinges and leave a new one swinging from them with a freshly-oiled lock.
8. Every time you walk over holy ground, give thanks that you’re not buried beneath it.
9. Dissection comes before resurrection. If you want to be somebody new, you have to pick apart the old parts of yourself and throw away the rotting ones.
10. Climb only the mountains you could lift and carry on your back, until your spine evolves into something worth bearing weight.
11. Have compassion for the racoons that scavenge in the dumpsters behind your house. They’re only looking for something spoiled to love, just like you after the first four lovers.
12. Don’t hold your breath unless you plan on letting it out.
13. Newsprint leaves ink on the hands like your grandparents will leave ripples in the pools of your life. Don’t erase them. They made you.
14. Kiss until the birds fall from the skies, no sooner, no later.
15. Don’t let grief eat at the table. Send it to the backyard instead.
16. Love yourself down to the bone, down to the roof of your mouth. Leave no stone unturned, no cell unwanted. Love down to the blood no matter how fast it boils.
17. When the beaches crust over with salt, let your thirst guide you to the waves. Step under them only with the intention of surfacing. If you drown, you’ll never learn how to float.
18. Only date men that ask for your name before pulling out the condom.
19. When someone you love undoes their veins with a seam ripper, stitch them back up no matter how painful it is to hold the needle.
20. Don’t forget to try thriving before merely surviving.