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!