Pretty Hurts … Good Does Too

A lot of us struggle with beauty.

Most of us have thought to ourselves “Am I pretty?” or “Am I beautiful?”

I’ve asked myself the same question a million times, and the answer my self gives back is always a resounding “No!”.

I used to struggle with this. Used to. I looked to men to give me a different answer; silently begged them to bless me with the title “Beautiful” so I could finally be one of the pretty girls. Part of me still does, but most of me is numb.

When you’re beautiful it must be hard to realise that there are penalties for being ugly. The last time I felt like I loved someone, I got beaten and punched and kicked in the stomach till I fell to the floor as he yelled, “I hate to see your face! You are so ugly!”

I never knew of all things in the world, I could be hit for being ugly. But there I was. It happened to me. More times than I care to remember.

I still think about it a lot, and it hurts sometimes although I’ve mostly accepted it now.

Every day I look in the mirror. Some days I think I look pretty; most days I see my ugly face staring back at me.

It’s strange.

In stories, you’re led to believe that the underdog is somehow more righteous, destined to finally triumph over those that are much better positioned, and lord it over them.

Maybe that’s why there are so many childhood stories starring the Brilliant Poor Man’s Child and the Rich Dullard, and though the rich kid has money and everything going for her, somehow the righteous poor girl eventually triumphs (usually by winning a scholarship and becoming a doctor, if it’s a Nigerian telling the tale).

Somehow though, I think that’s a lie.

Nothing about being disadvantaged makes you somehow more righteous. Your reward most likely, is not in heaven. And having come to this realisation, I have further realised that besides struggling with the question of why I am not beautiful, I also struggle with the question of why I am not good. In other words, I am plagued by the niggling suspicion that I am an irredeemably bad person.

I think a lot of Nigerians have a lot of confidence. At least the Nigerians I know.

They seem so incredibly confident that not only are they beautiful but also good people.

I’m not confident that I am a good person at all. For most of my childhood, until about age sixteen, I was absolutely convinced I was going straight to Hell.

I try very hard to be good for sure, but I constantly fall short of my expectations of basic goodness and end up feeling utterly defeated.

Part of me is convinced that I am a borderline bad person. Not the sort that would do anything particularly evil, but just fundamentally lacking in virtue.

I’m very much in awe of people more noble than I, and often a bit jealous of their apparent innate ability to emanate goodness, purity, and virtue.

I think in our society good people are treated well by others and it’s a label that true or not, you can use to your advantage to some extent.

Maybe it’s not so much that they are really good people, as it is that they play by the rules of our society so they are seen to be good by others.

Either way,

I live in constant fear that everyone can see all too easily what a bad person I am.

There are 12 comments

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  1. Ebiowe

    A very interesting piece,one we all can relate to( we who tell ourselves the truth). The concept of being goodis one with many definitions depending on religious and social background. I’ve struggled with this desire to be good my whole life and have failed as many times but I’ve learnt a few this
    1. The constant conscious attempt is more important and will eventually yield result
    2. We must apply symbolic action,by breaking down and recognising our weaknesses and taking gentle steps at over coming each one. Repetition brings habit
    3. Motivation,we must find one. Wether religious or social. A typical example is how commitment to a relationship can cause a person to want to be better. In my case I chose Jesus and my love for my partner.
    As for beauty,as our taste in food is different so is our idea of beauty. For those who called you ugly,I assure you there are twice that number who will call you beautiful. Find them and change your company.

  2. Stella

    Your blogs are always so in-depth. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You can only do the best with what you are given. Thankfully, when the time is right, we will not be judged by the same standards

  3. carol

    Wow. It’s shocking how much I relate to this. Everything you described here is exactly how I feel about myself. Actually, I relate to a lot of the stuff you write about.

  4. Joie

    As I read through I began wondering if I saw myself as good or bad. I know several years ago I used to see myself as no-good striving for good, but frankly now I see myself as neither. I am just humanand it’s unimportant to me to choose sides cos noone is on just one side. I believe I came to this conclusion a few years ago when my mortality and others flaws were made very apparent by a series of circumstances in my life. Anyway, the first comment said it all but I’ll put in my share of love. Because I’ve very recently been where you are (in your mind) I will say this without feeling the need to decode it for coherence.
    There’s a lot of darkness in this world and there are those with a crippling ability to discover it. That ability is for a purpose. To discover that purpose you must actively celebrate your little victories; those things that make you happy and alive, and you must consciously decide which of the numerous unhappy moments you will allow to imprison you. That is where you will find and keep your good which everyone but you can see.

    • sugabelly

      I’ve tried multiple times to not let the dark moments of my life imprison me, but I’m not very good at rising above it and I guess that failure also adds to my feelings of worthlessness

  5. Joie

    Nobody is ‘good at’ rising above it. That’s why it is a consistent activity. I don’t think the actual action is ‘rising above’ as opposed to consciously countering and ignoring. You must try not be so hard on yourself, that you can tell yourself the truth shows you have much more than you give yourself credit for.

  6. Sophalicious

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 the strongest speak, and usually you are speaking for others as well. No matter what, the truth is this:
    You have a gift that helps you reach the unreachable and you use it well.

    I am not good, I am just saved. Thats it. So my confidence lies in this fact, God loves me. Through out my life I see where many have tried to kill my spirit, but there is always a way out. When I try to be good I fail, when I accept the love God has for me I am able to lift my head and live. Even if everything else is telling me to die.

    Love, Sophie

  7. Bumight

    This post made me LOL! Because I’ve realized that even the most beautiful people sometimes feel a little insecure.
    One little secret: self confidence makes a huge impact. Last year or the year before, I had gained weight and I constantly referred to myself as “seapork” on Instagram. Before I knew it people on Instagram and even some that I knew in real life felt it was perfectly ok to call me that/ other variations of fat (even when I had started losing weight), they’d constantly reroute me back to it.
    Well, I decided not anymore. So I made a huge show of calling myself “hot cake”, “hottie” etc. you know what? People started seeing me like that. The seapork comments vanished.
    My point: to a large extent, you control your own narrative.
    As for being good: well I was on the right track to attaining sainthood ( goody two shoes, saving myself for marriage) but somewhere along the line, I fell off the sainthood ladder and have done things I’d never have thought I’d do, smh.
    It might not be obvious to everyone, but I know God knows, and He loves me and accepts me for who I am, and that’s alone to tickle me silly and make me feel secure.
    Bottom line: you’re not the ugliest or worst person on earth, and even if you are (which I know you are NOT, He’ll take you as you are!)

    Ps: don’t be fooled by the Nigerian confidence o, a lot of them are working through the worst ish you don’t even want to touch with a mile pole!

  8. lady

    for me question of whether I’m a good person or not tends to delve a bit further into what makes me a bad person/ a good person? That is, am I defined by my actions or my intent? Am I good based on how other people interpret my actions

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