Don’t Call Me Pretty.

People tell me I’m pretty. They compliment me on my island hair, my perfect tan skin, my smooth complexion, my long legs, my eye colors. I don’t like it when they compliment me because they don’t compliment me as a person.

My value isn’t based on how nice my body looks, the new lipgloss I wore, or the new hair color I have. I don’t want to be complimented for these things because that part of me will fade.

Call me pretty for my genuine smile when I cuddle a newborn baby, the way my belly laughs fill a room when I’m happy, the way I serenade to elephants at the zoo.

Call me pretty for how I can surround myself in a tower of beautiful books at a local bookstore in New Orleans, or how my eyes light up when I’m discussing philosophy and my dreams, the way I dove head first off a cliff because I wanted to feel alive.

Call me pretty for how I’m vulnerable with myself at my darkest moments, how I’m transparent with my human-ness, how I cradle my son at night after a bad dream,.

Call me pretty for how I mold my body into a chair to read a good book, when I share a meal with homeless people in Chicago, how I love with such intensity and live my life deeply without regret.

Call me pretty for how I slowdance to a Johnny Cash song, or sway my hips to an old record in the living room wearing nothing but an oversized t-shirt and fuzzy socks.

Call me pretty for understanding I may be aesthetically pleasing, but humble enough to not flaunt it.

Call me pretty for my love for Christ, and living my life in His word the best way I can, how I serve the community with such selflessness to spread authentic love and respect for those who need it the most.

Call me pretty for how I’m fierce to take risks, but soft enough to emphasize for others, how I love others even if they hurt me, my forgiveness for those who don’t deserve it but I gift it to them anyway.

Call me pretty for feeling hard, and loving harder, how my loyalty is unnerving, how I’m carefree yet intense at the same time. How I smile with small dimples and a chip in my front tooth, but sob into my own small shoulder when no one’s looking.

Call me pretty for who I am as a person.

But don’t call me pretty for the things that will eventually fade.

Because if that’s the only reason you find me pretty, then you never found me beautiful.

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