There are certain states, certain complex, or elaborate, sensual and emotional experiences, that consistently elude description. It is as if these experiences, no matter how significant, are destined from their inception to remain feelings—to stay tucked beneath the veil of consciousness, with certain qualities rising, occasionally, to the surface where they spark a vague sense of recognition and impact. Within myself, I have observed that the most difficult internal states to articulate clearly are those I associate with my femininity—the finely-tuned, richly nuanced erotic capacities that allow me to feel like a woman, to feel sexy, and to experience myriad others associated states, including feeling pretty.
I’ve, naturally, thought quite a bit about what it means to feel pretty, an exercise that’s posed quite a challenge to my introspective abilities. (I mean, is this actually a bonafide state? I think it is.) Those of us who can identify with this feeling know the term as an accurate descriptor when we hear it, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard another woman analyze that feeling within herself. So, that’s what I’m about to do here—however imperfectly. I anticipate that some of you may be expecting a lengthy discussion of the lighthearted rituals we generally associate with feeling pretty: makeovers, shopping, mani-pedis, facials, etc. That’s not what this post is about. I am also keenly aware that a number of potential readers probably bypassed this post because the title, to them, sounds shallow, frivolous, juvenile, or even stupid. If I do it right, it will be none of those things.
I hope instead to articulate some components of an intricate, well-orchestrated sensual and emotional experience that I see as being fundamental to my self-esteem, the health of my relationships, the expression of my sexuality, and my overall sense of well-being. Feeling pretty. Of course, I know that not all women identify with this feeling as intensely as others (if, at all, for that matter). But for those of us who do and who recognize the capacity to feel pretty as important to us, it occurs to me that there may be no better way to dignify this kind of experience than to understand it well enough to personalize it and describe it for ourselves.
Here are some thoughts on feeling pretty:
Pretty is electric.
To feel pretty is to feel softly sexy. It is an all-over sensation of luxury. To be nestled sweetly into one’s own skin. To feel pretty is to feel coquettish. Playfully flirtatious, graceful, and delicate. Pretty is a feeling induced by engaging in rituals that involve pampering, a bit of play, and igniting the tenderest components of one’s sexuality. Pretty is the sensual and emotional experience of being cherished—whether that feeling is brought about by doting on oneself or the affectionate displays of another. It is a shimmering, sultry kind of energy that emanates from each and every pore. Pretty feels ethereal. It is subtly and pervasively sexy. Pretty is the equivalent of a long, slow blink.
Pretty is a radiant acceptance of one’s appeal.
There is a sublimity to feeling pretty. I think of it not simply as feeling “put together” (pristinely) from head to toe, but also as a state in which my external appearance matches one of the most charming and venerable internal states of which I seem to be capable.
There is a majesty to it. A kind of serenity that makes me feel like I am aligned within myself—comfortable and quietly assured of my own abilities, poise, and charm. To feel pretty is to feel confident, radiant, and entirely in sync with one’s own feminine urgings and desires. It is to experience the allure of one’s own appeal. To feel elevated. To feel resplendent. As if one is altogether as one should be.
It a form of self-repair.
I know when I need to feel pretty. Whenever I go too long without dressing up (read: wearing a dress or skirt and heels), doing my hair or makeup fully, or attending to the finer points of my appearance, I begin to feel as though I need to feel pretty. And those are the exact words I use communicate that desire. I don’t just mean that I need to refine my look or enhance a few neglected items. I am indicating that I need to experience a state of being sweetly, softly, indulgently feminine. I need to pay homage to the goddess of beauty. I need to be playfully and frivolously girly. Why? Because it brings me back to center. It rejuvenates me. It makes me feel more like myself.
Feeling pretty also has an incredibly positive impact on my relationships. Quite simply, when I feel pretty, I feel better about myself. I’m a little nicer, a little more open, and a little more forgiving. I treat myself with a greater degree of sensitivity. And I treat others similarly. Feeling pretty doesn’t provide me with a false sense of self-worth. Its function isn’t that shallow. I, rather, think of it as a deepening of my relationship with myself, as revealing to me that which exists just beneath the surface of my perception.