Ladies, Can We Please STOP Making "Pretty" Such An Ugly Word?

Here are 6 healthy ways to reclaim "looking good" on your own terms.

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Hey gorgeous, do you feel pretty today?

Do you even care about feeling "pretty?" Or, does it stress you out thinking the world is judging you for the way you look, rather than the way you sparkle from within?

"Pretty" is suddenly an ugly word.

Over the last few years, women have pushed back hard against the narrow definition of a Photoshopped, airbrushed, unrealistic beauty standard that dishonors women's beauty instead of showcasing it. 


But in the process of justifiably reacting to one extreme ... have we embraced another? Now shaming "pretty" and hurt ourselves (and each other) just as much? 

Ladies, there is nothing "wrong" with putting yourself together. Not because someone else has a preconceived notion about what beauty is or how it looks, but because how you visually present yourself is part of expressing who you are. It doesn't really even matter if you leave the house.

The day we stop making that effort to look our best (as we define it) is the day we lose ourselves in some way.

Who we are on the inside does matter — absolutely. But our outer beauty does not negate our interior radiance. The pretty appearance we show the world is reflecting that gorgeous inner self outwards. Why wouldn't you want to show it?

It's one thing not to let society define "pretty" for you ... but don't let them entirely take it away from you! Being pretty, feeling pretty is a uniquely special thing. Be careful how quickly you throw it away just because someone else manipulated or misused it. 


So just how do we bring pretty back? How do we reclaim pretty as our own? 

Begin by defining it on your terms and nobody else's. This is an opportunity to use your creativity to uniquely express your individuality in the most gorgeous way. Then take the time and make the effort to express it. Celebrate how exquisite you truly are and show it ... proudly. You've just opened up one of the most gratifying ways to increase your self-esteem quotient!

Maybe you think rocking piercings and tattoos are super gorgeous. Well, great! That's your pretty! Let someone else wear full out make-up and false eyelashes from early morning to night. That's pretty, too. The point is, we all define it for ourselves.

Think this is just for the women? Think again. Men, you all have skin, hair and nails that you care about. Don't be afraid to put yourself together in your way.


Need some ideas on how to bring your pretty back? Try one of these:

1. Choose a physical feature that defines you as unique

It could be anything from a disproportionately large nose to protruding teeth or frizzy hair. Doesn't sound pretty? Ha! But it could be ... make it pretty. Not by covering up those features, but by claiming them. Feature that nose as an elegant sculpture, those teeth as deserving the most special of care, with any applied make-up enhancing them rather than detracting. Pamper that frizzy hair by giving it the care it wants and finding a style that is stunning.

2. Find a healthy "pretty" idol

Think of someone whom you admire for their physical appearance. Analyze why. When we admire someone else, often there is something in them that is in us, too. Is it their clothes or physical-self? Is it because they dress flamboyantly and are always joyful? Are they always pulled together? Or, is it that they are blond and freckled with brown eyes like yourself? Round and curvy?


Figure out why, then see which element (if any) you could adapt for yourself. NOT copy. Adapt.

3. Explore the "mothership of makeup" 

This one is, mostly, for the girls, or for the men who also enjoy the "girls' stuff." Are we lucky, or what? If you haven't explored the cornucopia of fun that exists in every drugstore, department store, specialty store and boutique beauty retailer dedicated just to women ... why not?! It is like a legal drug — all there for us to choose how to feel our best. Make-up, fragrance, clothes, jewelry, personal care and so on. It's like a calorie free candy store! Once you know what you want to best make your statement, go claim it! Why would you want to miss out on this?!

4. Set up a dressing area


Whatever your living arrangement is, create a space to get ready in the morning. Have a place to choose your clothes, do your hair, apply make-up, and find accessories. Please! Let's not forget accessories!

5. Play with accessories 

Think what symbols, colors, emblems, scent and much more could truly represent you. Find jewelry, scarves, hats, socks and any other accessories to express this. Accessories are the punctuation mark on your unique form of pretty. 

6. Check your reflection

Okay, creativity is great fun but it can get carried away and before you know it, we are once again far from truly pretty and back to trying to look like someone else's ideal. Look in the mirror and just ask yourself, "Does how I look represent the most 'beautiful me' I want the world to see?"


If you look tired, sad, or feel a bit down, change something in your appearance to give you a lift. Or, embrace a true beauty regime — better sleep, more water! 

Will getting your "pretty" on make you feel better when you're truly sad, depressed, or have a serious crisis in life?

Well, yes and no. It certainly won't take the problems away. (Nope. You still have to deal with those.) But, it will help you feel just a little bit brighter. And when you feel a little more optimistic it is easier to handle those challenges that life throws us.


So, don't "make-up" to hide and pretend. Dress and gloss up to shine and show your true self. Savor the time you spend putting yourself together. Day-by-day, as you do this, you may even find you begin taking better care of yourself, overall, because you just feel ... better.

Envisioning a world with all these individuals, expressing the most beautiful vision of themselves outwards, is well — just breathtaking! Why wouldn't we want to make this effort every day? So, embrace "pretty." 

Jan L. Bowen is a passionately authentic thought leader who helps clients align their lives so they find more joy and greater connection through articulating and living their purpose. To get Jan’s latest book, "Why Do You Get Up In the Morning? How to Demystify Your Life Purpose," download it now. You will also receive her newsletter, with articles only available by subscription.