18 Misguided Times I Felt Pretty

feeling attractive, feeling pretty, misguided times I felt pretty, body dysmorphic disorder, bdd, revenge porn, sexual abuse, teenage insecurity, this stuff is golden,

Trigger warning: this post contains topics such as sexual consent, revenge porn, body dysmorphic disorder & online sexual abuse. 

I spent a lot of my time online when I was a teenager – MSN, MySpace, or random forums and chat rooms. I was a lonely and insecure young girl.

I hope that these days young girls are being taught about the dangers of online creeps, not just ‘catfishes’. I hope they are being taught about having a positive self image and not needing the approval of others. If they aren’t, then this is for them.

  1. When I noticed I was getting more “Send me nudes” requests on dating apps.
  2. When a man twenty plus years my senior gave me attention on an online forum.
  3. When I started to say no to men because I didn’t want to do anything with them, rather than say yes because I thought that they were the ones doing me a favour.
  4. When I was underage and sending sexual photos to older men in return for compliments.
  5. During the time when I was unknowingly groomed for several years.
  6. When almost any man would make a pass at me (online or offline).
  7. When I had just lost my virginity, even though I was unsure whether I had actually given consent.
  8. When I was in a ridiculous love triangle with three colleagues, two of which were way too old to be my boyfriend (though one of the older ones did date me for six months).
  9. When I stripped in a hotel room on a first date because that’s what I thought having an older boyfriend meant.
  10. When a man described what he wanted to do to me on MSN when I was around 14. I ended up saving the conversation because I thought that it was the highest of compliments. My mum later found it and threatened to send me to a different school.
  11. When I asked if I was the no.1 lover my ex had ever had, and he said I was 2nd.
  12. When anonymous guys would talk dirty to me online. If there wasn’t as many doing it, I would start to feel ugly and rejected.
  13. When a boy my own age would want to snog me at a party.
  14. When a married colleague started to ‘drunk-text’ me at the weekends.
  15. When I lost a lot of puppy fat by saving my lunch money to buy an iPod shuffle instead of lunch.
  16. When online creeps would talk to me about their ‘librarian fantasies’ just because I happened to wear glasses.
  17. When one of my older brother’s old friends made a pass at me, saying he didn’t recognise me because I was “hot now.”
  18. When men would use me for sex when I confused sex for love and approval.

As ever – if this has resonated with you in any way, please feel free to get in touch with me if you need to talk.

12 Comments

  • It’s depressing to read about what women have to deal with from guys, especially having a young daughter myself.

    • Lauren says:

      I just hope boys are taught to treat women equally/with respect and girls are taught there’s more to life than being pretty 🙂

  • Man. MSN days were insane. I used to love male attention even when I was in a relationship – I thought I was the bee’s knees and anybody who didn’t want me didn’t matter because enough people did. I didn’t sleep around until I was much older but I still got called a hoe at school because I wasn’t sleeping with the guys I liked the attention from.
    I always say if I could change some of these mistakes, like the sex with the people who really didn’t matter because I was too drunk to care, I would but that isn’t how life works!
    xo

    • Lauren says:

      Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing this morning – how I wish I could go back in time and not sleep with creeps. But there you go. Maybe if we hadn’t been taught that women having sex is “giving their bodies” to men, or letting men “take” their virginity etc, we would all feel a bit better about our sexual history.

  • Abby says:

    Gosh,

    it saddens me sometimes how common and shared these experiences are. You’re so brave for sharing and being a part of the solution. We can’t hide the truth any longer or feel threated by it or guilty by it. We are not at fault! Let’s change the conversation and change perception. Thank you for sharing — it’s so powerful. <3

    • Lauren says:

      To be honest I didn’t think these sorts of experiences were as common as it has turned out! I would love to keep spreading the message by starting some sort of project, but I’m not sure how yet.
      Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment!

  • Anissa Marie says:

    Dear Lauren,

    I’m really sorry you had to endure all that. Especially as young girls I feel it was guy’s approval that made us feel good about ourselves because that’s what we seenon tv and rom-coms (the pretty girls get the guys). I do think it is important to feel good about one’s own appearance but it’s much more important that we learn to draw our self-worth from something else. I really wish this was communicated more.

    Lots of love,

    Anissa Marie

    • Lauren says:

      Hey Anissa Marie <3 That's so true, maybe we should start something that'll help young girls feel that way?! Not sure what! But that would be an amazing project.

  • Suma says:

    This was a very brave thing to post. I was just discussing this with a friend. Something that baffles me is that it isn’t even men who directly “suggest” that I dress a certain way or put makeup on, it’s always women that I know who say that to me. I always hear “you’d look so good with a little eyeliner.” The fact that this comes from women shows how instilled it is in us to look a certain way. At least, that’s been my experience, and it’s due to that inner need to look a certain kind of “pretty” that we accept things as compliments, even if they’re rather creepy. But the fact that there are more people talking about this issue really gives me hope for our younger girls who are starting to go through this. Well done Lauren!

    • Lauren says:

      That’s a very good point! I suppose that most people don’t realise that comments such as “you’d look so good with a little eyeliner” can chip away at somebody’s confidence (without meaning to do so).
      I do hope the issue is talked about more to both boys and girls – I know I would have benefited from it!
      Thank you very much for the lovely comment!

  • Quinn says:

    You know what, I think these feelings are so much more common than we’d like to think, and I also think society is a bit to blame for that. I remember being flattered at the age of sixteen when some businessman stopped his car in the middle of the road to give me his number. Even though he was at least in his thirties. I also remember bumping into a guy who turned out to be a much older boy from my neighbourhood, who then proceeded to make a pass at me and comment on how “if I’d known you’d turn out like this….” Even though I wasn’t remotely interested and he was super creepy, a part of my brain registered it as a compliment.

    It’s fucked up. I dont know how we should combat it, but it’s fucked up. Don’t feel like you’re the only one. You’re not. There are literally dozens of us!

    No, really.

    • Lauren says:

      I reckon society is definitely to blame for this kind of thinking, as well as the lack of self-esteem, because really they go hand in hand. I just hope that young girls at the moment are taking note of the wonderful feminist movement that is going on at the moment, as well as all the self love and self care stuff. I wish I had had some of that when I was a teen!

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