Being Called “Pretty”

We live in a society that heavily bases a person’s worth on how attractive they are. People seem to believe that more attractive people have the upper-hand in life, and that they “have it easy,” but this past summer I learned quite the opposite.

Growing up, my weight was always a huge struggle for me. At the tender age of ten, I was told that I was overweight by my pediatrician, and I never looked at my body the same way again.

While I have always been self-conscious about it, I never found the strength to make a change until this past summer, when I was going through a particularly bad break up.

I made the decision to let my break up build me up, instead of tear me down. With a little inspiration from Khloe Kardashian’s own “revenge body,” as she called it, I decided to get a little revenge of my own. I was going to prove everyone who ever called me fat wrong. I started hitting the gym hard, and eating a lot healthier. Fast forward a few months, and I ended up doing exactly what I set out to do; I got my revenge body, and am currently in the best shape of my life.

While getting in shape has certainly had its benefits, like giving me more energy, boosting my self- esteem, getting sick less often, etc., it has also resulted in some very unexpected disadvantages—the most important one being harassment.

At first, compliments were nice. Others were noticing all of my hard work. It was nothing crazy; just things like, “Oh hey, you look like you lost some weight! Good for you!” It made me feel good, but compliments soon turned into remarks, and remarks quickly turned into insults.

For starters, some people began to believe that because I was now in better shape that I thought I was better than them. I brought my own food to work in order to stick on this path of healthfulness, instead of eating the less healthy options offered at my job. Soon though, coworkers began to make negative comments about what I was eating and my new lifestyle. “Ew, who do you think you are?” and “Don’t you eat real food?” are statements I began to hear regularly.

Just to be clear, I absolutely do not believe that I am better, or that I look any better than anyone else because of my transformation. I do not think that anyone has to live the way I have decided to in order to feel confident or beautiful. Everyone is beautiful, and I truly mean that. So, I was surprised by the hate I began to receive.

I also began to get bombarded with perverted comments about my body and my looks, and I have even been groped by men. One day I asked a customer to see his ID before agreeing to serve him the drink he ordered, and I was met with the statement: “Let me see your ID, so I can find out where you live and stalk you.” Excuse me? He later apologized after his friends, surprisingly, yelled at him for saying something so disgusting, but why did he think suggesting something like that was okay to begin with?

In venting to others about the harassment I have faced, I have also been told, “Well, you’re a pretty girl. This is just something you’re gonna have to deal with.” That statement dumbfounded me, and my confidence quickly diminished. Comments that belittle a human being or make them feel like they are of lesser value are not compliments and do not build them up, let alone give them the upper-hand.

What does the word “pretty” even mean, and why do we all try so hard to be it? I for one, am over it, and if being called pretty means that I deserve to be harassed and/or treated negatively, please do not call me pretty because that is not a compliment.