ITEM OF THE DAY Item of the Day: ‘You're Not Pretty Enough' by Jennifer Tress – Win A Free Copy! Marianna Tabares

It had been a while since a memoir grabbed my attention so much that before I knew it, it was 2am and I was still reading. In fact, the most unfortunate part of Jennifer Tress’s new book is the ending, which comes too soon after you breeze by several hilarious stories about her upbringing (including her exploration of sex and relationships through her drawings), a massive crush on Bon Jovi and her one act of rebellion against her parents: going to church.

However, there are moments in her book, You’re Not Pretty Enough: Extraordinary Stories From An (Un)Ordinary Life, that take us into the more serious places of a woman’s life experience. Tress shares about the day that she was sexually assaulted on the way to class while she was in college and how she braved through the incident with the support of her roommates and the community. She also hands us a proper serving of reality when we learn that even her most romantic relationships were not what they seemed, and their endings were often full of tension.

Jennifer Tress is doing more than just providing us with a memoir, she’s encouraging a movement. On her site, YoureNotPrettyEnough.com, there is a section that explains what this movement is and how it can guide people towards a more empowered self-image. You’ll find personal testimony and videos as well as the opportunity to share your own personal experiences with this feeling.

As she explains in her book, that feeling of not being pretty enough is something that has almost nothing to do with your actual physical appearance, because even those who are perceived as attractive can be made to feel that they are not. Unfortunately, the cause of this is the way people in our lives make us feel about ourselves.

Tress’s own experience with not feeling pretty enough happened when her first husband told her those stinging words and made her feel as if the responsibility lay on her for making the marriage function. We later learn that her instincts were correct when she suspected that he was being unfaithful, and even more surprisingly, she gets her answers from the most unlikely source – the other woman. This is a story you don’t want to miss as it is unexpected, stressful, and eventually healing.

I’d like to give three of you a chance to win a free copy of this new book. Here’s what you have to do:

Share about a time that you felt you weren’t pretty enough and how you overcame that feeling. What made you believe it to be true? What was the moment of enlightenment that pulled you out of it?

Good Luck!

Jennifer Tress’s book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition.

Featured Image via Goodreads.com

comments

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  1. Hi everyone! You’ve all been sent messages to your facebook accounts. Check your inbox and check the “other” section there to make sure you received my message. If I don’t hear back from everyone, I may bring the giveaway down to the first three who respond to that message. Otherwise, I’m going to do a raffle for the free books. Thanks!

  2. Geez, there are so many times, it’s hard to pick one. But this one is the freshest in my mind.

    By the time I turned 25, I felt I’d put in the work and had finally reached a level self-confidence I’d never achieved. I finally felt I was smart enough, talented enough, and even pretty enough but things weren’t “sticking” and soon the pattern became very apparent.
    During this surge of confidence, I was invited to go out dancing with a group of girlfriends and that’s normally not my scene. At one point in the night all my girlfriends had dance partners and had formed a circle around lonely ol’ me. I was there dancing awkwardly awaiting a dance partner that never came. I thought someone would empythize but I began to think I’m not “apparently” pretty so why would they? This began a downward spiral of that confidence. I was an intern and then a temp at my job but it was taking a long time for it to turn into a permanent job and I was afraid my team didn’t like me (all of the interns I started with were hired full time). I was diagnosed with PCOS that causes an imbalance of testosterone and insulin. The clothes I’d bought during a shopping spree in September looked horrible on me by December. I was 25 and STILL single. I thought, gosh, what is wrong with me? It was more confusion than self-deprecation. It was as if all of these things were just within my reach but because I was not pretty enough among other things, I’d have to try again later.
    One day I was chatting with my mom and she said my full name Motolani. She asked me if I knew what it meant (Motolani is a Yoruba name) and I said I didn’t. It means “I am WORTHY of blessings”. Gosh. My truth is in my name and yet I don’t believe it. It’s the main thing I struggle with in fact, my worth. I wrote it on my mirror with dry erase marker as a reminder. The validation as to whether I’m good enough is not and more importantly cannot come from anyone else but me.

    Still working on this today (the phone call was about 2 weeks ago) and understanding these things take time.

    • Hello, please make sure you check your facebook messages. It may have gone into your “other” section of the inbox but I have contacted you regarding this giveaway. Thanks!

  3. Hello Marianna,
    when I was in 10th grade, my twin sister came in the high school I studied
    The thing is, we look a lot like each other, except that she had always been thinner than me. However, people would still confound us. But I felt like it was , you know, “the biggest difference”, the only way people managed to recongnize me from my sister like “Babeth is the fattest one” There was absolutely no doubt for me, I knew that that was what they thought.
    Then, right after my 16th birthday, I starting starving, so that people wouldn’t have this thought.
    So I lost a lot of weight, and went from a normal weight to underweight. I was sick, cold and you cannot imagine the whole part of it. After 1 year, I went through treatment and got to the hospital because I could no longer live like that, couldn’t see the end of the tunnel.
    It took me one year. And it was maybe the hardest part of recovery, because you don’t know if you want to recover, or relapse. Because you eat “nomally” again, well not totally but nearly, but in your head, you’re still sick and I had to push through, everyday. I graduated, and in september I went to college.
    The first meals were hard, because i was by myself, and with no one behind to push me. It was Anorexia,versus Me. But I met really great girls, and after one week, I was totally free.
    First mcdo after 2 years, and so on. I feel like i’m born again
    and I know that I was close to relapse.
    I feel much better now, and I know that eating is not an option, it s life
    and its probably the biggest pleasure in life
    So this new year ,in University is for me a rebirth. Now I realised I had a body dysmorphic disorder and that I was seeing in the mirror wasn’t what other people saw.
    I reconciled with nutella, and everything. I party reconcilied with myself
    and try to accept myself. I try not to hate my reflect in the mirror
    I try to accept my glasses. (which is a big challenge since I cannot wear contacts).
    Not enough. That’s what I felt; not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, so I became thin (but never satisfied), I was overinvested in my studies, because I thought: maybe the matter with me is that i’m not pretty enough, when it was clear that it wasnt about thinness
    always seeking perfection, to please myself because if I didn’t pleased myself who was I going to please ?
    Truth is perfection isn’t part of reality, it is an unachievable wish.
    And one of the saddest thing in the world, is that people don’t see themself as they really are. Don’t be harsh with yourselves, you’re beautiful, because you are who you are, in your own way. You too, have to love yourself as you are, and open your eyes, change your look, and believe in yourselves! you don’t know how much your capable of

  4. I had the natural, usual experiences of competition and bitchiness in high school when it came to appearance. At the same time I had a difficult relationship with my stepfather who used to make horrendous comments about my weight, really cruel jibes. At the same time, my relationship was strained with my real father, who was gradually withdrawing himself from my life. My brain made the sweeping connection that if you’re overweight or unattractive, no-one will love you.

    I then wound up on a difficult road that has lasted a large part of my young adult life. It made all of my relationships very difficult, as I would never feel good enough. I lived in fear that no-one could love me because I was ugly.

    It took something as strange and unrelated as my grandma dying to change me. She was old, and overweight, and although she was beautiful when she was young old people are typically not seen as attractive…. But everybody loved her so much. Everyone always says true beauty is on the inside but I’m not sure that a lot of people really take this in.

    I realised that in my pursuit of and obsession with being attractive on the outside, I had become ugly on the inside. Superficial things mattered more to me, and I didn’t like the person I could see I had become. I realised I wanted to be like my grandma – known and adored for how I can make other people feel about themselves, and for the person I am not the face. Looks will fade over time but being a beautiful person is like a fire that can’t be extinguished.

    It’s still a learning curve – I still have days where the panic sets in about my appearance – but now I see that it is that obsession that makes me ugly, not the way I look. And somehow, I care way less about being beautiful if it makes me into someone obsessive and neurotic.

    We need to disassociate looks with value and worth – I know that the people I hold dear in my life, I couldn’t care less what they look like. They’re important to me for much different reasons – ones of greater importance!

    • Hi Amy, I tried to contact you via facebook but was unable to send you a message. If you are able to friend me, please do so. I will send information regarding this giveaway.

  5. Early on in my life I was made aware of my size. Girls in class told me I only had boobs because I was fat, and my mom constantly reminded me that it was “baby fat”. By junior high I was apparently still a baby. All the while, tiny belly shirt’s and low riding humongus pants were in fashion. Of course I wanted to be as cool as humanly possible so I bought right into this aesthetic. When I put these clothes on immediate attention was drawn to the largest part of my body, my hips and belly. When I looked in the mirror I grabbed the flesh and felt sick. That was the first day I skipped lunch at school. I followed it with skipping breakfast. It worked! I lost a lot of weight and the following year of school I died my hair blonde with streaks of pink and became one of the cool kids! Following this bliss, I began to wear tiny shirts and huge raver pants constantly. One day, I was decked out in my coolest and what I thought most attractive attire, when I overheard a guy asking one of my naturally thin cousins a question. He asked, “Why is she wearing half shirts and low pants when she is so fat?” Even after starving myself and trying my hardest to fit the image of beauty I was still seen as fat. I’m pretty sure I walked off and hid somewhere to cry alone, but I can’t really remember. What I do remember is that I realized at that point that I could NEVER fit the ideal. Not even close. I continued to struggle but that idea stuck with me when I went to college. As I began to exercise my brain and challenge my self-image physically, emotionally and spiritually, I realized that I was pretty damn awesome. I still couldn’t look in the mirror and be happy, but I was starting to like “me” regardless of how I looked. It went a full step further when I watched the film, “what the bl@@p do we know?” and fully bought into to the concept of self-imposed reality. I began to leave myself notes about being loved and beautiful every where that I would find randomly. I made a point to pick out my favorite features and admire them every once in a while. I started learning about my shape, and what clothes work best for it. At this point I stopped dying my hair and try very much to appreciate even parts that society tells me are flaws. These hips don’t lie.

  6. There have been many times in my life that I have let myself feel inadequate but now choose to happily forget and easily so. Sometimes, these instances aren’t so easy while living through it though. “Not being pretty enough” can be a euphemism for all of the “not smart enough”, “not tall enough”, and “not good enough” phrases so many of us hear every day. Stinging comments about my weight during my teenage years from family members who meant well may have hurt the worst initially, but hearing “you’re not good enough/tall enough/smart enough” throughout my life has stung with an equal pain. Sadly these painful memories had their impact on me and have left their scars, but a scar is now all that they are to me. A small line that is a remembrance of an experience that I lived through and made me a better person. Although I struggled with body image for a while after hearing comments about my weight at such an impressionable age, I was saved through following my passion in life and the subsequent people that I have met by following this path. My passion for music and using music to work with children in the special needs population has led me to many realizations of gratitude and true happiness. These realizations that left a lasting impact on me may seem simple in nature, but truly helped me to overcome my many insecurities. The happiness and purpose that music has brought these children I have worked with over the years has taught me the true value of enjoying and living in the moment. Since discovering this simple knowledge of happiness, it was easy to forget all of the hurtful comments I had heard in my life. Hurt people continue to hurt people, and the cycle has to stop somewhere, and this is where I decide to stop the cycle. These children that I have worked with unknowingly taught me some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life; and I only hope to continue to spread my passion of music to them to give them something worthwhile that is at least a fraction of the importance of what they have given me.

    • This hits close to home. I’ve had a lot of issues with feeling like my mom has been critical of my appearance, so I always felt like no matter how I chose an outfit, I didn’t look good enough. After many years of that uncertainty I had to coach myself to stop believing in it because I ended up feeling uncomfortable wherever I would go. Thanks for being the first to share. :)

  7. I’m studying to be a journalist. I took a broadcast television course and when it was my turn to be in front of the camera, the number of girls who offered to do my hair and make-up was depressing. I have curly, frizzy hair and I don’t regularly wear make-up, but I don’t have a problem with the way I naturally look. I had major self-esteem issues in middle and high school, but I thought college was my outlet to express myself.
    I didn’t end up straightening my hair or wearing foundation and concealer and the other pound of nonsense that the other girls were wearing. I threw my hair up in a half ponytail and put on a little pink lipstick. When I was in front of the camera, I read the teleprompter the best that I could and smiled throughout the whole thing. Not looking like everyone else didn’t prevent me from behaving professionally.
    I understand that sometimes, especially in this field, I’ll have to look a certain way, but I learned that if I just stay true to myself and never do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, my talents will shine and I’ll be fine.

    • This is great, Shereen. It really helps to spread a message about the importance of knowing who you are and letting that show to others through professionalism.

  8. When I was in eighth grade I had a teacher who gave out prizes at the end of the week for good grades. When it was my turn to get up and pick one out I chose a small mirror. One boy said “she shouldn’t be allowed to get that, it’ll break the moment she looks into it.” The entire class including the teacher laughed. That moment destroyed my self confidence and throughout most of high school I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough.
    Unfortunately it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized what my peers thought of me doesn’t matter, it will only affect me if I allow it to. I began focusing on my personality. I got to know God and directed my attention toward trying to be a better person. I immersed myself in wonderful literature, and drawing I found my love for writing and graphic design. I learned to be the source of my own happiness.
    “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”
    -Emerson

    • Wow, Sam!! The teacher?? That teacher was just wrong. That kid was wrong. Isn’t it crazy how we believe what other people say and let it ruin us? Takes a strong person to realize that. Many adults still don’t get it.

  9. My mom used to be supermodel thin when she was younger, in her 20′s she was about 90 pounds, but she looked gorgeous, she had the build for it and she was fairly petite (5’3″). She expected the same from me, but I have more of an hourglass thing going on (minus the larger breasts on top, my shoulders complete the hourglass). But I’m 5’4″ and a half and inherited more athletic features like calves and hands from my dad. Not much different from my mom, but I’m not capable of being as tiny as she used to be.
    When my mom was pregnant and before she got pregnant my dad was a serious smoker, almost a pack a day. He continued to smoke throughout her pregnancy and while I was a kid, albeit farther away from me. But I developed asthma as a result; I couldn’t keep up with the other kids and exercise was torture. I wanted to just give up and die whenever I had an asthma attack. My parents were pretty passive aggressive in the way they raised me. Although they found it bad that I didn’t exercise, they pumped me full of fast food since my dad wouldn’t look for a job outside the house, so my mom was never home. My dad would have to take me with him when he met colleagues and he just bought me something from Burger King or McDonald’s to keep me occupied and obviously fed so I wouldn’t pass out and die. They supported this until it became a habit. I started overeating, and the bad stuff too. I developed hypothyroidism as a result. I literally had a 0% nutritional intake everyday and that led to the slow metabolism that hypothyroidism is known for. Then after I finished my first few years of elementary school, my mom started noticing that I gained weight exponentially. I didn’t really hit my height growth spurt until late middle school and I was really short but at the age of 10 I was a little over a hundred pounds. Imagine a girl who’s not even 4″10 being over a hundred pounds. I’m not even that wide set either. It seemed like every year I’d gain at least another 10 pounds and then some.
    My mom started yelling at me, telling me I was ugly, fat, stupid, selfish, uncontrollable, and that the rest of my life I would be lonely.
    I remember this one time I went out to do errands with my mom. I was probably starting middle school. She bought me these cheap 2 dollar tourist-y t-shirts from a kiosk at the Asian marketplace. One of these trips, I asked her if I could go to the mall and look for clothes (at the time, I only bought jeans from JCPenny because of my height). She told me I was so fat and ugly, why should she spend money to buy me nicer clothes?
    I spiraled into overeating. I was only a few pounds shy of becoming obese for my age and height. But my the end of middle school I joined the Cross Country team, just for fun. We didn’t compete or anything, but we just ran and hung out. By then I had grown out of my asthma. I really enjoyed running, even if I wasn’t the fastest one. I dropped a few pounds just from running but I didn’t feel like I could keep it up.
    Then I passed auditions to be in the high school marching band. I started playing bass drum one. That summer kicked my ass. We did P90X, Bootcamp, Insanity (the principles of Insanity, you really don’t need the whole god damn DVD set), and we rehearsed for hours on end. In a month and a half, I had dropped 30 pounds. I was down to 110, I was 5’3″ and I had so much stamina I didn’t know what to do with myself once rehearsal was over. My mom still called me chubby.
    Then the law of metabolism kicked in, the increased exercise, the lack of processed foods kept my body burning like a furnace and the fuel was fat. Pretty soon, even after the competitive season was over, I was down to 108. The lightest I had been since I was 9 and I was 14. And I kept burning, I was able to fit into a size 00 at Abercrombie and Fitch. OH MY GOD. Right!?
    But my mom now said I was too skinny.
    Biometrically, I was almost identical to my mom when she was younger. But that moment was when I realized that I don’t have to please anyone. Not my mom, not boys, not other girls. No one.
    After that I started to take it easy, I still keep healthy habits like exercising at least once a week and pushing myself while I’m at it so I’m not wasting my own time, and eating less processed foods and more wholesome nutritional foods. Drinking more water and taking the stairs when possible.
    I gained some weight back, but by then it was healthy weight. Muscle weight and I filled out in the hips. I started to feel real and whole again. When I was that 00, I felt like zero. I truly felt like nothing. Being skinny didn’t make me happy, it was the fact that my body had the capability to do something amazing as long as I put my mind to it. Now, I use that ability to run miles, dance, march, and keep up with friends.
    Being perfect became a state of mind for me, not a visual representation of it.

  10. In high school I was trying to figure out the whole wearing make-up thing. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was trying to figure it out despite being self conscious about it (I thought the more the better…). Everyday freshman year a boy that sat behind me in one of my classes would say loud enough for me to hear, ‘Oh my did you see Lauren today? Isn’t she the prettiest girl you have ever seen? Especially the way she does her makeup!” and on and on. At first I was flattered, mistaking his cruelty for sincerity. It quickly became clear he did not seriously think I was in anyway pretty at all. It was incredibly embarrassing and before long everyone in the class would turn to watch this doofus try to embarrass me by talking about how ‘pretty’ I was. It didn’t help that I would turn bright red in embarrassment no matter how hard I tried to ignore him. I didn’t have a boyfriend or any guys showing interest so it was hard to believe that I wasn’t a joke. I’m not sure there really was a moment of enlightenment, I became numb to it so he wasn’t getting the reaction he wanted and moved on to someone else. The crappiest part was when I realized he wasn’t teasing me anymore I felt slightly worse because now I wasn’t even worth teasing… oh the complexities of 9th grade hormones!! The whole thing did instill that I needed to present myself to the world in a way that I thought looked good, not in a way that was trying to replicate what I saw in magazines or in the halls of my high school. Being myself and wearing clothes and, if I’m in the mood, makeup that reflects me means I’m not looking for approval that I got it right from anyone other then those that I know love me.

  11. Fantastic post! Can’t wait to read the book – I would have ordered it already if I wasn’t hoping to win the contest!

    It’s hard for me to pinpoint one instance, but I think the most prominent has to be the time my ex’s new girlfriend (with whom he cheated on me) messaged me on MySpace (this was a good 7 years ago) to tell me I had a beer belly and looked like white trash. It sent me spiraling into a string of dangerous lifestyle choices. I concluded that he cheated on me and left me because of my appearance – if only I were “pretty enough” he would have stayed with me!

    The enlightenment began when we got back together a few years later and I thought I was “pretty enough” to keep him faithful. I had blonde hair and was scary skinny (definitely no beer belly). But then he cheated on me again! This time, he did it while my dad was in the hospital – even I (with my ridiculously low self-confidence) could recognize how uncool that was. I broke up with him easily, but healing my self-image took more time. It took a lot of work and a lot of drastic changes, but eventually I came to believe that how people treat me has nothing to do with my looks and everything to do with their own character.

    Today, I’m healthy and satisfied with my appearance. I’m having fun being single and dating. I have a successful and rewarding career. I can’t believe I ever thought that I was “not pretty enough.”

  12. This hits me really hard. I was a “late bloomer.” But that’s being gentle. I wasn’t the prettiest girl in middle school and EVERYONE let me know it. Most of it was passive aggressive, but as I got older I realized how mean everyone was to me. In sixth grade I was overweight, had glasses (NOT cute ones), braces, and I hadn’t realized that the bird nest-like mane of hair I possess needed to be tamed. To make it all worse, my mom made all of my clothes for me, most of which included some kind of tie-dyed short dress that I wore with leggings or biker shorts. I had vivid memories of the “cheerleaders” calling me over to the “cool kids” table just to dismiss me as soon as I got close by, all just to laugh at my expense. People are HORRIBLE to each other, especially when they aren’t as “pretty” as other. Luckily I changed schools in 7th grade and made it my mission to NEVER let looks sway my decisions about what people look like on the INSIDE. I became friends with kids from all groups, shapes, and sizes. I judged them by what they were like on the inside, not the outside. And while I grew out of my awkwardness, I still hold on to my fat kid self, the one who got laughed at every day in home room. That little girl guides me today, making sure that I love those people for their hearts, not their skin.

  13. When I was a teen even my mother said I wasn’t pretty,. I had low self steem. I didn’t like my hair, I was too skinny and so on. But as I grew up I started to acept my self. Boys started to ask out and I felt confortable on my own skin for the first time. I think that beauty is more about self confidence and good beauty products then anything else.