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'You're Not Pretty Enough'

What would you do if someone said that to you? Would it destroy your or make you stronger? For Jennifer Tress, it served as inspiration to help women live a happy, fulfilling life beyond appearance-obsession.

September 4th, 2013

'You're Not Pretty Enough'

“You’re not pretty enough.”

Those four words have the potential to destroy even the strongest, most confident and best-looking women, particularly if they’re uttered by a loved one. But they didn’t destroy Jennifer Tress.

Although the Washington, D.C., based consultant who formerly worked for the federal government initially let the all-too familiar emotions of negativity and self-doubt get the better of her when her husband told her he was leaving her for another woman because she wasn’t “pretty enough,” Tress found it within her to turn one of the most defining moments in her life into a platform for positive change—both for herself and for the scores of women out there who worry about their looks and believe that they, too, are not pretty enough.

Photo: Jaime WindonJennifer Tress
Jennifer Tress

Today, yourenotprettyenough.com is a movement that more and more women are signing onto. Tress is a strong, beautiful and confident woman, remarried to a “great guy” and a staunch advocate for self-esteem and self-worth, which, she believes, are key to living a happy and healthy life. She has voluntarily spoken at a number of college campuses in the D.C. metro area and this fall, will be embarking on a tour of universities across the country to share her story and to offer tools and tips on how women can figure out the many different qualities they have in order to build a higher level of self-esteem—one that has little or nothing at all to do with physical appearance.

“I believe that ‘pretty’ is often the trigger for negative self-talk,” Tress says. “Looks are often the laziest ways we assess ourselves and others, so we often use that subconsciously as the reason something bad happens or someone is bad.”

Being able to reach a level at which looks really don’t matter so much is the key to being a confident and successful woman. But even though the best of us know this, actually getting there remains a very difficult challenge for most women.

MORE: Are You in the Death Spiral of Low Confidence?

Unfortunately, beauty and body image are constant obsessions for scores of women around the world, and research continues to show that the majority of us are just not happy with the way we look. Only 4 percent of YouBeauty readers, for instance, always feel good about their bodies, and, mirroring that stat, according to the results of “The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited,” a study conducted by Dove in 2011 as part of its Campaign for Real Beauty, only 4 percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Anxiety over looks begins at a young age, the survey showed, with more than 70 percent of girls aged between 10 and 17 years feeling a tremendous pressure to be beautiful.

As such, “the ‘You're Not Pretty Enough’ sentiment is particularly hurtful because beauty is seen as a highly prized asset that is perpetuated in our culture and in our relationships,” says Tress. “Women—and some men—can internalize that, so a cut against someone's looks can feel like a cut against one's whole self.”

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