How to Actually Be a Beautiful Woman


We know beauty comes from within, but how do we actually carry that out into the world? Helena Andrews explores the question at XOJane.

Often, we allegedly enlightened grown women assume that each one of us has tattooed Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Women" across our sagging boobies in invisible ink. Of course we know beauty comes from within. Duh! That it comes from confidence. That beauty's only skin deep. It's in the eye of the beholder. And all of the cliches your health teacher taught you. But how do we actually carry that out into the world?

I've never been told straight out that I'm hideous. My face is pretty symmetrical, but my eczema-ravaged skin has always been splotchy. In high school, my nickname was Olive Oyl. Also I regularly got called a "transvestite" for no tangible reason I can think of. I didn't kiss a boy until the eleventh grade and not again until college. But somehow throughout all that (which honestly is pretty pat in high school), I just thought everyone else was behind the curve. Seriously. Even when I was crying my eyes out in the girl's bathroom after some little bitch called me a "man" I can remember thinking, "Someday."

But why? It's not like I was crazy confident. I wasn't. I was a skinny black nerd in "Gapp" jeans with a bad press and bowed legs. Beautiful wasn't something I heard on a regular basis, but I still felt it. Funny thing: I recited Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" to an auditorium full of hungry high schoolers as part of this lunch break art program (did I mention I was a nerd) and I actually understood every line at 16.


Read Helena Andrews' entire piece at XOJane.

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Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.