Friday, July 23, 2010

No, I want to be more than a pretty girl (but maybe being a pretty gamer wouldn't be so bad)

Like many of the people involved in this blog I originally balked when eye-shuh declared the name of the website to be Pretty Gamer. Really? Pretty? Of all the words you can use to describe the female members of our community you used... pretty?

If you can't tell, I have serious issues with the word "pretty".

Growing up there were three expectations of me by parts of my family. I was to be (in order of importance) beautiful, a great athlete, and brilliant. Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother's 98lb build. No, I am my father's daughter, with strong, thick legs, arms and a back that can lift as well as most men and a tendency to put on weight if I think about food too much. Oh, and in my family you CANNOT be pretty and overweight.

I was a good athlete, though not the natural kind who can win races without practicing. I am brilliant, I got accepted to one of the best MLIS programs in the country (Master's in Library and Information Science). And I was pretty. I modeled for various friends, I was a calendar girl, and threw up after every meal for nearly 10 years.

I went into treatment for that and looked to Ani Di Franco for ideas on how to be a woman. I denied the word pretty. I WOULD NOT be a pretty girl. I focused on being strong and interesting and powerful. I became one of the guys. A girl who denied girl things, who dressed to hide my femininity and body and who scorned all things pretty. (As an aside, I plan to write a future article about how society encourages this behavior. We love a girl who is one of the guys, but bitch be crazy if she admits to enjoying shopping.)

But that was almost as destructive a path for me as seeking the approval of others for my own sense of beauty. I am not a man who happens to have a vagina, I am a woman and should be allowed to embrace that. So I'm entering a third phase of my life. I am newly married, have moved to a new state, am finishing up my master's degree and am embarking on a journey of healthy weight loss and learning to accept myself for who I am.

And who am I? I'm a book nut who plays games, sews silly costumes, spins fire, takes pictures, wiggles her butt to tribal music and is addicted to the endorphins that come with working out. I am a feminist, a tree hugging dirt worshiper, a future librarian who deeply cares about the teens in my community and someone who can probably kick your ass in Munchkin.

So... maybe I can learn about pretty. Maybe I can be strong, tough, brilliant but also soft, feminine and beautiful. That's why I'm here. To write, but also to be in a community where I can learn to embrace the word pretty again in a safe, caring way.

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