you are beautiful signI think I'm pretty mostly because my husband tells me so. My kids do, too. And if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it. Truth is, I never think I'm pretty in the moment, I think I'm pretty when I look back on old photos. I recently saw my passport photo that was taken seven years ago and thought, Wow, I'm really cute here. But I remember when I took that photo, I thought it was terribly ugly.

Then last week while talking to a friend, she mentioned how she was attractive -- it made sense in the context of what we were discussing. And she is, she's gorgeous. But she'd only give herself "attractive." It was still refreshing to hear because many of my friends don't think they are pretty or attractive at all. It's an issue with many women. But it's hard to say you think you are pretty because the minute you say it, you instantly feel self-conscious and unattractive. Essentially unable to live up to the "pretty" title you gave yourself.

Remember Samantha Brick, the woman who thought she was so incredibly beautiful and that's why everyone hated her? Her self-esteem was over-the-top and inspired the criticism of just about everyone who read her essay. She is an extreme example, but that's exactly the reason women don't admit they are good looking. We basically aren't allowed to.

We're all aware of our own prettiness factor, says Jezebel writer Tracy Moore. She interviewed her friends about their looks and found that many of us think we are pretty, but are very aware of our so-called imperfections. They would say: I'm pretty but .... and the laundry list would unfold.

Then we have women like Lena Dunham who I think is incredibly adorable and just as pretty as Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, or Zosia Mamet -- her co-stars on HBO's Girls. Maybe she isn't everyone's brand of pretty -- maybe you are one who prefers an Allison, a Jemima, or a Zosia -- but Lena is pretty. And while everyone was questioning how a girl who looks like her ends up have a steamy two-day tryst with a very hot 42-year-old, we really should be asking how that 40-year-old got lucky enough to have two fun-filled days of sex and ping pong with a 24-year-old. Far too many focused on her looks -- their own judgement of them, thinking she wasn't hot enough to rub bodies with a hard body doctor.

Let me just say that I know for a fact that not all people with "perfect" bodies are awesome lovers or awesome people for that matter. There are stereotypically "unattractive" men who are tigers between the sheets and will call you the next day and send you flowers and be, in general, fantastic boyfriend/husband material. And I love that Dunham -- who is probably a size 4 or 6 -- dares to be completely naked on Girls even though she doesn't have a Halle Berry body. And if you want to be real, not many women have a Halle Berry body. Not every man prefers a Halle Berry body.

It's almost as if Dunham is making a statement of I'm pretty. I'm sensual. I'm sexual. I'm not ashamed. And I love her for it. She's not inspiring a legion of young women to starve themselves so they don't have a little flab or jiggle. 

That means you're pretty, too. Even with some extra pounds. Even with a muffin top. Even if you are self-conscious because you are just naturally skinny. Even if you don't have a button nose and perky breasts. We should allow ourselves to be pretty by admitting that we are pretty, by feeling pretty, and being able to embrace it. I'm pretty!

When my husband or my kids or a friend tells me I am pretty, I am going to believe them. I am going to truly feel pretty and allow myself that feeling. Because I deserve it. And so do you.

What do you think? Do you ever admit that you are pretty? Do you face the same issues and insecurities? Isn't society screwed up?!


Image via jmawork/Flickr