“I wish now that I had told that young cashier at the dollar store how striking she looked standing there, with her nose ring and her blonde ringlets. I wish I would have told her what that moment really meant to me, an exhausted, ordinary mother with a bag of Meow Mix cradled like a baby in her arms.”
Today was a long day. By the time I finally cruised into the dollar store to buy cat food at nine o’clock tonight, I’m sure I looked as tired as I felt. I practically zombie walked to the aisle I needed and then went straight to the counter to pay.
At the cash register stood a young girl with a nose ring. Her hair was pulled back, but long blonde ringlets framed her face. There is no telling how many hours she had been on her feet in that store, but still she smiled and asked how my night was going. And then, while I fished in my gigantic black hole of a purse for my wallet, she told me that I look pretty tonight.
Just like that. She handed me that grace. That generous gift to a tired mama who almost certainly doesn’t look pretty tonight.
And I was surprised by how shocked I was.
I was blindsided by my utter disbelief that my version of forty years old is pretty, especially at the end of a very long day in the middle of a small town dollar store. But the word hung there between us, and all I could do was tell her thank you, genuinely grateful for the tender mercy of that phrase falling from a stranger’s mouth: you look pretty.
It’s getting harder and harder to feel pretty in our world. Pornography has changed our standards. Photoshop has created unattainable idols. And, the ordinary women of the world are left stranded in the wreckage, searching for some way to feel like we measure up. Waiting for some sign that we are worthy to be called pretty, that we are good enough in face and in body to be wanted by anyone.