A Writing Exercise – Feeling Beautiful

[As many of you know I’m going to start grad school in January, one of the suggestions that my writing book I’m reading is to practice free flow writing… this idea struck me so we’re going with it. It’s kind of autobiographical fiction… Hope you enjoy!- Tabz]

My dad could always make me feel beautiful. Growing up I’d wear a dress or a skirt and twirl in it (I believed strongly in the power of twirly skirts when I was little), he’d smile and tell me I looked like a princess. And I felt it. Growing up I never had a lot of self-image problems, despite being overweight. Every so often it’d hit me, like a case of the stomach flu. Some kids would make fun of me, but for the most part I ignored it. Most of that strong self-image was built at home, but some of it came from a little fellow sixth grader I went to camp with. In reality, we were barely out of 5th grade, but it was the first year we could go to camp so we all felt older than we were. Sadly, being the youngest meant sleeping in cabins that were far away from the bathrooms (just another proof in my small mind that being older was ALWAYS better). This fellow bunk mate would stand in front of her bunk and get dressed quickly. You barely even saw her naked she was so fast!

“I’m part of a swim team.” She told me. “You have to dress with everyone else, and you have to be fast.”

I remember my mind trying to process that idea. Up to then nakedness had been secretive. Something you wouldn’t dare share with anyone. It took awhile to process it. But every day, she was ready to go to meet up with the rest of our fellow campers before everyone else.

“After all, you don’t have anything we haven’t seen before.” If I had been a bit older I might have realized she was parroting an adult. But to me, it had sounded like a new truth that no one else knew.

I can’t remember if I dressed in the same way, especially since I know for a fact in high school I did not. But it was the confidence she had that stuck with me. I can tell you little of that first camping experience beyond that moment, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

Yet, I’ve learned since, confidence isn’t feeling. It took a long time for someone beyond my dad to make me feel beautiful. But it’s not something you notice. It’s kind of like driving without brakes. It’s not till you want to stop and think about it that you really realize.

Then came my junior year of college, and our giant Jr/Sr banquet. Now, you have to understand, looking pretty and dressing up are not on the top of my to do list. At all. But I was excited for the banquet. Even after the mess I had with my first ever boyfriend and I “breaking up”. Instead, my friend Kevin (who I had a giant crush on) agreed to take me.

I bought a dress, it wasn’t the world’s fanciest dress. It was a whole lot of green. But it was pretty. Girls on my floor did my hair and I even put on makeup (shock I know). And I walked down the stairs to where Kevin was waiting.

And there it was, that moment where you just feel it. His mouth dropped open, like the Monopoly banker had just appeared and told him that the stack of 500 bills were now considered legal tender. Like I was the fairy tale princess meeting her prince for the first time.

And man did it feel good.

Most women will tell you that is the feeling they miss most of all when they miss things. There’s just a moment in time where a guy can make you feel extremely beautiful. And you don’t have to be wearing a pretty dress or be made up. It’s just the way they look at you. And it’s not even a dirty look. In it’s most potent state it’s almost an innocent look. A look that says, “I can’t believe I have the privilege of looking at you.”

There’s a warmth in that look. It’s a look that any man could give you. It doesn’t have to be a potential lover. I’ve felt that same warm, beautiful glow from an elderly man at a church, or a little boy, or a passing stranger. You can get it out of a wolf whistle or the legendary two syllable “damn”.

There’s a flush that comes with it. Almost as if you can’t believe it yourself. If your heart could leap out of your chest, it would. But your heart knows that really is a gross image and wouldn’t risk losing that feeling. You feel floaty, like if all of the sudden every inch of you is imbued with the power to just be pretty. When you twirl your hair, it’s not a nervous habit anymore – it’s pretty. When you lick your lips — it’s pretty. When you lose a shoe on the steps.. it’s not awkward or stupid — it’s pretty.

It’s amazing how someone else’s view of you can change your own view. Like they held up a circus mirror to you. Yet it’s a beautiful feeling when you feel beautiful.

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