Saturday, February 13, 2010


Some people are born pretty.

Some are late bloomers.

Others grow into their looks.

I think I was a fairly cute baby.  Some say 'cute' means ugly but adorable.  (I don't, cute just means adorable to me!)

But I was not a pretty child.

In fact I looked like a boy, and not a pretty boy, either.

My mother always kept my hair cut short.  I don't know why.  Her's was always short, I guess she just didn't like long hair.  I always begged for long hair but she just kept cutting it.

I remember when I was in primary school and a visiting teacher from another school on sport's day refered to me as, "That boy over there."

I remember asking my mum once at the dinner table, "Am I pretty?"  I don't remember her exact response but I clearly remember it was not 'yes'.  She probably said something like, 'Not everyone can be pretty,' or 'Well, you're not ugly.'  But she definitely did not say I was pretty.  Never did, never has.

My mother is a very practical, no nonsense person.  I guess she thought she was protecting me from becoming vain or conceited, two major sins according to her.

But I could see for myself, I had mirrors, I saw photos.  I wasn't pretty.

Until I turned about 17.  I grew my hair, dressed how I wanted to dress, became more confident.  Then I started to see myself as pretty.  If anyone ever told me I looked pretty before then I never believed them.  But around 17 I could look in the mirror and see 'pretty'.  I saw 'pretty' in photographs.  And I began to get a little bit more attention from the fellas so that confirmed it for me.  I was pretty.

Until I turned 40.  I was still breastfeeding baby number two, I had put on a bit of weight, and my face and body began to show significant signs of aging.  Now I look in the mirror and don't see pretty.  I see photos of myself and definitely do not see pretty (unless it happens to be a rare fluke from a very flattering angle).

I feel I had a 'window of pretty' from 17 to 40 and it has now closed.  Twenty-three years was a pretty good run though.  And don't get me wrong, I don't all of a sudden feel hideous.  I just feel my looks have faded (wow, that makes me sound like a movie star!).

Some people never lose their looks.  Some people (probably those who are born pretty) are always pretty, like my 65 year old aunty who is just beautiful.

But as much as I'm hoping that it will come back if I got more sleep, lost some weight, did more exercise, I know I'm clutching at straws.

My mother would be horrified by how vain and conceited I must appear to be even worrying about such things.

But here's the thing.  I believe all women should feel pretty.  I tell my daughter countless times every day that she is pretty and beautiful (and I tell my son, too...not pretty of course but gorgeous, beautiful boy etc.).  I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling pretty.

Two nights ago I changed my profile picture on Twitter because I was feeling frumpy and dowdy and felt the need to feel pretty for a bit.  So I'm using my wedding one at the moment because nothing makes you pretty like talented, professional hairdressers, make-up artists and photographers!

I had a lot of comments about it from my lovely tweeps.  And one from the loveliest of 'younger' girls who said she has never felt pretty.  I hope that's not true.

Pretty is a feeling, not necessarily a physical attribute.  I do think I can get some of my pretty back when I have more time for myself.  Because I know if I ate better, dressed better, exercised more and did more for myself I would feel prettier, without having to look in a mirror or take a photo of myself.

Everybody can be pretty.  I truly believe that.

And mums (and dads), please tell your little girls (and boys) that they are pretty, every day.

By the way, would you believe my first word as a baby was 'pretty'?  It's true!


  1. I've never felt pretty either Thea. I know I'm not ugly but I was the target of so many comments from my sisters when growing up, telling me I was the fat,ugly one... I can recall my father telling me I was beautiful but never my mother (she never told me she loved me either as far as I can recall) but my sisters' taunts are the ones that stay. It's amazing how we always readily believe the bad stuff but almost can never be convinced of the good. You are not suffering from fading looks from my perspective, maybe fading self esteem :) Of course I have only seen very few photos of you and we are all our own biggest critics.

  2. From a guy who has never been good looking, I can't say I'm troubled by everyone moving post-pretty!
    Finally I don't have to care about this stuff, I'm just a Dad with two gorgeous daughters and people like me for other attributes than looks!
    Colour me happy.

  3. And obviously, I can tell you're a good person from your blogs - looks don't come into it.

  4. Oh I totally get this. As much as I hate dwelling on appearances it has been a lifelong struggle for me. My best friend all through high school was an incredibly beautiful girl. The kind who will always be beautiful. Tall, slender, perfect thick sandy blonde hair, huge blue eyes with black lashes. In fact, she became famous in Australia - at least in part - for her incredible looks. This was all a bit hard for a rather short, strawberry blonde, quite young-looking best friend to take. I was always known as 'cute' but I knew I wasn't a beauty.
    This meant that for a lot of my adult life I have spent probably too much time worrying about my looks and my size (both height and weight). I stay clear of cameras but did have the photographer who shoots all my magazine's covers to do the photo that I mainly use for my social media. It is me - but I don't always look like that. When I wake up I have messy hair, sleepy eyes, and sometimes I have a big crease across my face.
    The thing is, when you talk about such issues people mistake it for vanity, when in fact it is the reverse. I still hope and pray that one day I will be rid of my worries about my apperance and be comfortable in my skin.But it hasn't happened yet.
    I do find that when I exercise I feel better about myself and there are times when I scrub up ok. But I am far from a 'natural beauty'.
    Strangely, my own daughter is almost the image of my once-was-best-friend (although you may have read on my blog about her debut as an 'ugly' baby :-)). The sandy hair, the big blue eyes, the lashes, the skin. I always told her she was beautiful, but came to a point where I had to wonder what I was teaching her. Her experience is almost the opposite of my own. I'll post a piece I wrote about the subject up on my blog tonight.
    But I do agree that girls need to feel pretty sometimes - as long as they know that prettiness isn't all there is.
    Thanks for an honest and thought-provoking post.

  5. I looked like a boy TOO! In fact, we wore shorts (boys and girls did) in first years at school and I often got called Bradley by my very own teacher. What the fuck? I struggle with it too. I mean I know a lot of people who just are pretty. Straight up. Then some surprise me and the more I get to know them, the more attractive they are. I guess that means prettiness is atheistic, it's what comes out from inside. If that makes sense. Which means yes, you are are freaking gorgeous. Inside and out. x

  6. An Idle Dad - Phew, I thought for minute you thought I was vain and conceited! Thanks for your comments. :)

  7. I'm not sure I've ever felt pretty. Ever.
    My father made it his business to tell me what an ugly horrid person i was.
    It's hard to get past that sometimes.

    I tell my kids every single day they are beautiful.

  8. Jayne - Thank you so much for that comment!! And I did mean to put in that maybe my mum did have something in that I don't want my kids to think looks are worth more than other things. It's such a fine line, isn't it?

  9. Bern - we all wore shorts too!! How were the teachers to know?? lol (Stubbies?)
    And back atcha babe!! xx

  10. Tiff - I'm so sorry you had to hear than from your father. Hearing that is worse than hearing nothing. You must be beautiful if you tell your kids they are. x

  11. I think your pretty! I think you're a gorgeous loving parent! And I think you are a beautiful person with a beautiful soul! I have never been the prettiest, and I have always been the short fat one. My parents tell me evrytime they speak to me that they love me. But they also tell me that I should lose weight, and I should be healthier. I think it is such a fine line. I think that I am lucky to know you.

  12. Have you been watching too much botoxed, filled, nipped and tucked tv?
    Your post has made me sad! I remember that you were a flower girl because you were the pretty one. You looked like our pretty auntie. I was the plain one who had a boy's nick name from grade 1. I looked like mum who was definately not pretty - just ask her.
    But thankfully I'm married to someone who thinks I'm beautiful!
    I watch women a lot - I see that 'beauty' is different to 'pretty' beauty emanates from the inside, I see beautiful 70 year old women.
    I have noticed when I watch a lot of TV and look in the mirror I feel really old and ugly - but when I talk to real people around me I look normal.
    Read my poem I wrote at the end of last year...

    Your post is a great reminder to tell our children how beautiful, pretty, spunky, gorgeous they really are. Which we both do. xxx

  13. Emily - You are just so lovely, thank you! xx

  14. Michelle - I'll be chatting with you on the phone soon. I thought you were the pretty sister! You were too little to be the flowergirl, you were 2!! xx

  15. This was such a thought provoking post. I've never really worried about my looks BUT I've always been worried about my weight. All my life my parents told me I was beautiful and while I accept I'm not ugly I don't see myself as beautiful either. But I think that positive life long message now constantly delivered by my husband has well has left me feeling comfortable with my looks.I make a point of telling my children they are gorgeous. Like you I feel better about myself when I make the effort. All the training I'm doing for the bronze and the training I'm going to do for the half marathon makes me feel pretty and strong. I just felt very sad when I read what your mother said to you. And truthfully, the window hasn't closed for you. you know that in your heart of hearts. You just need to wedge it back open! xxxx

  16. Seraphim - Thank you, that was a beautiful thing to say! I'm looking for my wedge!!

  17. Thea what a great post you've written! Straight from the heart. I'm forever giving my boys compliments. I think it is so important for them to regularly hear positive comments from their parents. As their Mum I think they're beautiful and gorgeous in so many ways. I hope hearing this often will assist them in developing positive self esteem and confidence as they grow.
    Like you I often think if I slept more, ate better, exercised more would I feel and look 'prettier'. It's a tough one to answer!
    I'm a couple of years off turning 40, the biggest mind challenge I have is that I'm not physically the girl I was at 20 or even 30.
    Thea you're an exceptional and beautiful woman, wife and mother. You give so much. You are an amazing role model for your family and so many others.
    I love that blogging has meant our paths have crossed xxx

  18. I don't feel pretty a lot of the time, I think that's why I use my wedding photos as profile pictures for many websites because that was the prettiest I ever looked.

    But, I think you are gorgeous - I liked your old profile pic and I like your new one too.


  19. Great post Thea. I've def been there too. When I was about 14, I had a really bad hair cut. It was too short. I was riding my bike, and this kid chased me saying, "hey boy! hey boy!" I was wearing a SKIRT for goodness sake!

    For quite a number of years, I wore my hair kind of shoulder length. Then I went even shorter (not short, short - but above my shoulders). I kind of liked it, but then I had a photo with Jennifer Hawkins one time ( i know - BAD move) and I thought I looked SOOOO old and SOOOO ordinary next to her. I started to grow my hair. Then I coloured it a couple of years ago for the first time in about 6 years. Now, I feel more feminine. But I still look in the mirror now and see more wrinkles, and my teeth bother me now (one front tooth was nerve damaged when I was 14 - and is slightly out of kilter with the other). I think I get more vain with age! But I think, like you, I would probably look younger and better if I exercised more and ate better.

    It's an old, cliched kind of saying - but it's true that beauty comes from within. If you're a good and happy person, then it will shine thru. You are that. You're also fortunate to have beautiful eyes and a gorgeous, happy smile. I've seen many different shots of you on your blogs, Twitter pics and you've always looked gorgeous to me.
    But more than that, you seem to me a very beautiful person on the INSIDE. That tops it in my book.


  20. I am continually concened about my daughters self esteem, I want them to know they are pretty but I fear them becoming vain and to be pressured to maintain their looks above all else. The media these days portrays such an unrealistic view of girls and how they are to behave(especially those music videos)

    Remember aaron spelling bought Tori her first set of boobs when she turned 16.

    I want layla to know she is loved and any imperfections make her unique, not an outcast. And also make her a nice person, concerned about others not just herself.

    but then again i think we all judge ourselves by how we compare ourselves with others.

    Have you read the desiderata? there are some lines i think are appropriate
    As far as possible, without surrender,
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even to the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
    they are vexatious to the spirit.

    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain or bitter,
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Sorry for this long comment

  21. This was an amazing post! I have so many emotions running through me right now that it's hard to organize my thoughts to comment. I guess the feeling that rises to the top is anger. We live in a society that places far too much emphasis on physical appearances. Who created the measuring stick that we all compare ourselves against? Why is Easy Beauty so sought after.

    I don't consider it vain or shallow to worry about how others see us. It's simply human nature. The problem is the beauty we are looking for isn't in the mirror. It's in the eyes and hearts of those we come in contact with everyday. What's pretty to one person...could be unremarkable to the next. We all have a different set of filters we look through to see the world and I believe that for a lot of us a persons inner-beauty is another filter that affects how we view someone.

    For me, a woman with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye...can never be considered anything but pretty. Your inner-being shines through. That doesn't mean you'll win a beauty contest...but in the end...would you really want to?

  22. I think it's all been said Thea - fantastic subject for a post and you've articulated it beautifully (no pun intended).

    Apparently I was quite an unattractive baby, had a pretty phase from about six to ten, then a horribly awkward phase from 11 to 17. Since then my degree of feeling pretty has been directly proportional to my self-esteem. Funny about that.

  23. life and the memoirs - Thank you! I'm very glad our paths have crossed, too. xx

    Jade - Your wedding photos are lovely, as are you. xx

    Jodie - I think exactly the same of you! Thank you. xx

  24. Excellent post, Thea. As Kelly says it's all been said- but I do find that the older I get the less I worry about my appearance (though admittedly I was never an obsesser anyway). maybe that's just wisdom and acceptance, but I also think it's got a lot to do with feeling comfortable in my skin and what's happening in my life. The happier I am (and I'm pretty damn happy at present, touch wood) the more attractive I feel- even now I'm in my (early) 40's. Let's hope that continues.

  25. Fantastic post, Thea.

    What I find interesting is the difference in how you perceive yourself compared with the way other people see you. Reading your post and then your sister's comment was really interesting. Because my sister and I are like that too! I wrote a piece recently about this type of thing and my sister had the same reaction. She never knew I felt that way.

    Writing really makes you release a lot of those thoughts, doesn't it?

    And by the way, I think you're very pretty. xo

  26. great post. it was quite funny to read this whilst at the 21st last night and i started crying. hehe. the boyfriends immediate reaction was "has someone written crap about you again". and i just said a simple no and that it wasnt mean.

    i remember when i was younger and i would ask my mum if she thought i was beautiful/pretty. and she would laugh and say yes. it never done anything for me.

    and so i only think im 'okay'. im nothing special and have never really thought that i was. i look at me and see fat. a huge nose. too many freckles. red hair. i dont see pretty. sure i post a lot of a photos about myself. but i take a billzillon and post one or two.

    even the other day when i had a skinny moment {which has SO passed} i showed my face in two of the four. i guess half isnt that bad. but i didnt feel pretty. i felt skinny. and i have never thought that skinny equals pretty.

    i ask my boyfriend and he tells me he loves me just how i am. which is great to hear. he calls me pretty and beautiful too. but i dont believe it. same with when he calls me 'babe' sure it makes my heart skip little beats to hear it. but i dont feel it.

    but thanks x

    maybe il be pretty later on.

  27. That was a nice post Thea. I think you are a gorgeous person, inside and out.

    I always looked like Mr Fluffy head when I was a kid because my Mum kept my hair short. Consequently I ended up with a big fluffy afro. It was not pretty.

    I dealt with the usual teenage angst with my looks but have settled into my body nicely and love it. I'm short. Curly, flat chested. My face is OK. After two babies, the wobbly tummy takes some getting used too, but I hope to book myself in for a TUMMY TUCK SOON! xxx

  28. My children are still young (5, 8 & 10), but I hope that they message they are getting from their parents and the other significant people in their lives is one that will build their self-esteem rather than leave them feeling negative about themselves.

    I always struggled with my appearance as a child and teen thanks to weight issues and very prominent glasses.

    I liked Michelle's comment about the difference between pretty and beautiful. I tell my children not only that they look beautiful, but that the things they do are beautiful too - helping a friend, praying for someone in need, sharing their things, standing up for someone else.

    Hopefully my husband and I will be able to bring our children up believing that beauty is about more than physical appearance. I want them to be confident with how they look, but I also want them to place more value on good character than prettiness.

    On a lighter note, keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My children recently told me they thought I looked beautiful at a time when I felt more than a little frumpy. I had my hair piled on my head covered in hair colouring goop to hide the greys and each of the kids independently told me that they thought I looked beautiful. Hearing those words from someone you love means more than a clinical assessment of prettiness gained from looking in a mirror or at a photograph.

  29. So many words of wisdom. I loved the comments from a male perspective, too. Thanks guys!

    After more consideration I think that my mother was also concerned with letting us know it's important to think of others and not all about ourselves, as Chris said. (And I love the desiderata!)

  30. I never felt particularly pretty as a child, teen or young woman. Sometimes I scrubbed up alright, but I didn't think of myself as "pretty". Now I'm in my 40's I look at photos of myself back then and think: "Man, I wasn't bad at all! I was actually pretty!". Sad that my self-perception was so warped back then. These days, I don't always like my appearance or photos of myself - but I comfort myself in the knowledge that in 20 years time I will look back and think "Man, I was hot in my 40's!" LOL

  31. Okay - have not read all the other comments - as I really want to comment but don't want to feel like I am doubling up...
    I have NEVER felt pretty. Not even on my wedding day.
    I had a mother who constantly pointed out my "faults" ( I was 'heavy', had to wear my hair infront of my ears as my ears stuck out, she chose all my clothes up to and beyond 17, my skin was bad so I must be doing something wrong (whent on roaccutaine at age 25 - no more horrible skin at least)) and it was only if I dressed like her and when i stopped eating as she has that i recieved any kind of approval, and then it was very fleeting. My father too was big with the physical put downs. so I totally get where you are coming from.
    I'm hoping one day to be happy as me, actually me, at the weight a should be, wearing what I love, instead of constant comparison.
    But I keep waiting...
    So many *hugs* many. My little girl is too told she is beautiful every day (she is) as is my boy. I think its important to like yourself and when they have qa mum who doesn't without the added inforcement why would my two believe it naturally?

  32. Wow this post certainly relates! I always had short hair (something about short hair thickens it) I lost count of the amount of times I'd go to a friends house and the parents would say to their child "there's a boy at the door for you". I always wanted my ears pierced to look more girly. Like you I was never told I was pretty and always felt ugly.

    I've spent my childrens lives telling them how wonderful, pretty, handsome, lovely they are. They've always been allowed to have their hair as long as they want.

    Now, in my late 40's I'm seeking therapy for those "ugly" "useless" feelings that still hang around. I didn't realise how those feelings affected my life, still bringing me down. Slowly I'm beginning to like me. The short, overweight, me is actually a pretty awesome person.

  33. A lot of these comments about not feeling 'pretty' seem to relate back to the person's self-esteem, the main shaper of which was their parents... so feeling good about yourself inside and out is what we want for our kids. Sure, telling them they're 'pretty' or 'beautiful' is a great way to start this, but as some have said not overdoing the purely physical aspect, and focusing also on the effort they make and their other attributes, will hopefully produce some well-balanced individuals who are able to shrug off the inevitable nasty comments waiting for them out there in the big wide world!! (Was that the longest sentence ever or what!?)

  34. There is something so deep in the heart of every women that longs to be called 'pretty' or 'beautiful'. Women were designed by God to bring beauty to the world, with their looks, their words and their actions.

    I struggled until only recently to look at myself and like what I see. Too many manipulated 'fake' photo shopped images in this society will do that to you. When I came to a place and realised that that wasn't 'true beauty', and I was beautiful - just the way I am - everything changed.

    I m on a journey to finding 'true beauty' which I have shared here:

    Thea, you are beautiful! You are pretty - you just don't realise it yet! We don't have moments of beauty - we are beauty. xo

  35. Thea, you've got my vote. This was a deeply resounding post for me, in fact only yesterday I was thinking back on my upbringing and what I used to be told and how I am diligently trying to instil justified pride and confidence in my daughter (not to place too much importance on her looks but also letting her know that she is pretty and beautiful). We've come out of an era where they kinda got it a bit wrong I think.

    I've never seen/read you as anything but beautiful.


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