Allowing Pain to be Ugly

Why is it that we believe Elegance must be the face of a woman’s suffering?

In the digital age especially, we have this idea that pain and heartbreak should be purely internal experiences. “We don’t air our dirty laundry,” an adage I heard more than once growing up in the South, is an apt summation of the notion that we (meaning anyone “respectable”) don’t speak of our struggles in the public realm. Indeed, women especially are encouraged not to let any sort of pain show outwardly, lest we not be deemed “beautiful,” ladylike, and strong (but I mean, not too strong though: can’t risk intimidating any men in the vicinity).

Memory and a quick Google search yield catchy little admonitions including:

“Be a lady, even when it hurts.”

“Strong women wear their pain like they do stilettos. No matter how much it hurts, all you see is the beauty of it.”

“She’s been through more hell than you’ll ever know. But that’s what gives her beauty an edge: you can’t touch a woman who can wear pain like the grandest of diamonds around her neck.”

“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.”

“A beautiful woman draws strength from troubles and smiles during distress.”

“What made her strong was despite the million things that hurt her, she spoke of nothing but happiness.”

“She smiles through the pain because she knows that even though she is breaking inside, he is still watching.”

You know…sometimes, I think we’d all be a little better off if we were allowed to be mere mortals. Let us be hurt, fallible, weak, unattractive, human. Especially in the midst of a heartbreak.

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