Pretty, Cute Or Beautiful…

The gold framed mirror in my bathroom reminds me of the mirror in Snow White. Here am I standing right in front of it and doing what the Evil Queen did in the enchanting story, “mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest in the land?” My question is different though, it is; “Am I…


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The gold framed mirror in my bathroom reminds me of the mirror in Snow White. Here am I standing right in front of it and doing what the Evil Queen did in the enchanting story, “mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest in the land?” My question is different though, it is;

“Am I beautiful enough, mirror?”

On good days I find an answer, I say to myself; ‘yes I am beautiful’, on bad days I just keep looking at my reflection in the mirror searching for a beautiful feature on my face.

I remember when my face started breaking out, I was in Primary 4 when the first pimple appeared then the next one and soon I had a face full of these pesky tiny boil like things on my face. I made the mistake of pinching them off and that has left me with tiny dark scars.

Maami noticed I was disturbed by the pimples, she said to me ‘’you look pretty this phase would pass’’

Fast-forward to my first year in secondary school. My English teacher gave an assignment to differentiate between pretty, cute and beautiful. The boys decided to make the assignment practical by classifying the girls into the various categories. The girls got wind of it and put a stop to it.

One Tuesday evening the girls sat in a circle and decided to pick up where the boys left off; ‘power to the women’ you would think. We went round the circle labelling ourselves and when it got to my turn one of the girls said that she couldn’t call me pretty, cute or beautiful that the pimples on my face made it hard for her to determine where I fit.

I was deflated.

That holiday I asked Maami what she thought of me. If I was pretty, cute or beautiful. She said I was her perfect daughter made for greatness that I didn’t have to worry about that.

In my second year, the head of the English department called me and asked how many times I wash my face that I should do it more often that it would help with the pimples.

By my third year, I hated going out with my mum. Almost all the women we met has some cure to suggest. I was taking blood purifiers, vitamin supplements and using very expensive special soaps and oils on my face. The drugs I hated, the oils and soaps smelt really nice.

One Friday evening, I had just taken out my hair used one band on it so it could have the appearance of an afro, this look was easy for me, my hair is natural. I looked at myself again in the hostel mirror I decided I looked pretty. I walked into my room to drop my combs and my roommate said to me if she had such pimples on her face she wouldn’t go out. ”I will sit at home till it all cleared.” she finished.

In my fourth year, I made the executive decision to stop taking all the drugs and using the soaps and oils; I really didn’t care anymore.

A boy had a crush on me and wrote me a note. I didn’t believe in the words he wrote because when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see those things.

At some point in all these I lost my smile.

One Friday evening in my fifth year,  I just worked on my afro look and I was walking towards my classmates who were seated in a group talking loudly; one of them shouted ”Ore you look pretty” my smile broadened when I got close up she added ”I think you look pretty only from afar”

By my sixth and final year in secondary school, the pimples where gradually fading and in its place where tiny black scares.

I didn’t have the first idea about makeup let alone brown power. So I went through university with many people trying to convince me of its importance and why I needed to wear it.

I cared less about it. I was on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance and I had come to love and accept myself. I was no longer crying about horrible comments and suggestions that didn’t come off the right way.

After university I bought my first compact brown powder and I told myself it was never going to become an everyday affair and I was going to use it moderately.

The band wagon of why foundation cream is important and lining my eyes would make my eyes pop and my teeth shine soon followed.

I wasn’t buying it. I am happy with whom I am and my life choices, I have scaled many hurdles to get to this point of self-acceptance and self-love and I wasn’t going to be talked into doing anything I am not comfortable with.

We are planning my friend’s wedding, at one of our meetings I told them I would only wear makeup I feel comfortable with and I wanted to look and feel like myself at the wedding. The bride keeps telling me she is worried about my face.

Constantly talking about this gave room to my old demons and I began to question myself and ask if I am pretty, beautiful or cute.

I went home after our meeting agitated and went straight to the gold frame mirror in my bathroom, I forgot to lock the bathroom door, Maami noticed I was talking to the mirror and leaned on the door frame, I turned and asked her if I am pretty, beautiful or cute and she smiled and hugged me.

Since that night I stopped asking the gold frame mirror any questions, I just wake up in the morning and tell myself that I would be the most beautiful version of myself for that day.


  1. Ona
    This is a lovely write-up Ore. I empathize with you on your self-love journey. Your wedding planning story made me laugh because I too had a similar experience as a member of a bridal train. The bride insisted we must all be made up by her assigned make-up artist. When the artist got to me, she attempted to carve my eyebrows, but I was like “sorry, I don’t do that” She responded impatiently and exasperatingly that, in that case, I should shift over and let her make other people because she had no idea what to do with my face if she couldn’t carve my eyebrows. I thought I had dodged a bullet, but then she came back and said she was ready for me. She then proceeded to make me up with a colour palette that could only have looked good on a light-skinned person ( being dark-skinned, you can imagine how awful I looked). I ended up having to wipe nearly all the make-up off, and everyone kept looking at me like the person who was trying to ruin everyone’s special day..haha
    Thanks for sharing????
  2. Hephie Brown
    Wow, this is beautiful, and so are you. I hope you don’t allow these things to get to your self esteem. It can be tough. But i like your story, i like your journey, i like whoever you are or whoever you are talking about. The strength you exude is amazing!
  3. Big Blood
    First all I kindly ask tnc to allow comments without filling out all that info. I nearly didn’t want to comment on this but I had to.
    You really are beautiful. I had my insecurity issues when I was a kid. Mine was I felt I was ugly and everytime I saw I shooting star I would wish I was handsome like Michael Jackson! Please live and don’t hide. I just returned from Eleme in Rivers. He taught me a salt therapy of using salt as a scrub. That might just help. Do some research. Love.
  4. Tobi Ogunbanjo
    I am angry you felt like that. I can’t believe you had those insecurities. You always seemed so confident and sure of yourself, I always admired you. You are very pretty, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, I can’t believe you couldn’t see your beauty and you had to speak some words of affirmation to believe you were / are beautiful.
  5. Zelda
    sometimes its difficult to see how beautiful,intelligent or confident you are when you have blemishes that wont go, people starring you down all the time and suggesting all sorts for you.i do relate to your story a lot. used a lot of foundations too but recently i decided no more. i am not the blemish on my face, i am so much more…lovely write up.
  6. Dara
    I can relate with virtually everything you said, these are the demons I try to subdue everyday. In a society where self-validation is predicated on constructed definitions of ‘cool, cute, hot ‘ , the last thing you want to have are these pesky little things on your face.

    However hard it seems, I have learnt to seek solace in the beauty of my soul which I know the few people who understand it, can explore without being impeded by the ‘harshness’ of my face.

  7. A.J

    I’m a guy and I can tell you your experience isn’t gender specific. For me, it wasn’t getting drooled over by girls like some guys did, it was never getting anonymous crush/love letters, it was not being as buff as girls seem to like or beard gang enough to mention a few.
    But there’s beauty beyond the beholder. Plato was wrong and Confucius agrees with me. I hope you find it.

    @oreoluwa-abidoye @blackswan @zelda

  8. Abi Sanni
    first, I will say that people who come up to others to tell them they are unattractive or ugly most likely have something they are insecure about. They may be saying these things to feel better about themselves.

    Secondly, Beauty is more than skin deep.

    In secondary school, I was told that I was the second ugliest person in purple house. lol Girls in purple house were so pretty and beautiful. According to my classmates, I should have been in blue house where the less attractive girls were. I didn’t let it get to me, I remember telling the girl who they said was the ugliest that she was beautiful. She always had a big smile on her face when I said that. The truth is I believed it, I genuinely thought she was beautiful.

    Their mean words didn’t get to me until SS1, when one of my class girls called my full name in class and when I looked at her, she looked at me in disgust and said I was ugly. That really really hurt and for some reason I started to believe. Girl, I used to pray to God to make me a little more beautiful and eventually he did. lol BUT He only made me see how beautiful I am. It is true, I haven’t changed much. My face, my pretty face still remains pretty. It was fine then and it is still. I was never ugly, and I won’t be. God says I am wonderfully made. I believe it.

    People can say whatever the hell they like about you and your looks but you have to let them see what you believe and once they realize that their words can’t move you, they will stop. They don’t have to admit to anything but It is what you believe that matter the most. Today, noone can tell me I am ugly, I can’t believe them. I actually will laugh. Not saying there are no bad days though but the constant is I am beautiful.

    I am sooo sorry for the long post. But I wanted to share my story with you.You are not alone in this and Most importantly, you are oh so beautiful! Own it girl, and in confidence too!!!!


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