prettygirl

Priti Nemani @pritinotpretty
3 min readAug 30, 2023
Photo of Indian American girl with glasses wearing a yellow sweatshirt standing outside with a blue hat.

I knew a sad girl named Pretty.

She lived in this body for a time, beginning at the ripe age of zero.

Pretty liked the puns with her name. She enjoyed the way jokes broke ice, sanitized her brownness and created laughter when lips spoke her name.

Because, you see, Pretty was ugly.

Her skin, furry.

Her hair, short, with a bald row down the center because Pretty mowed down a fuss of unruly hairs with a secret pink razor that she stole from her older sister’s room.

A relentless crease over the top of her head, embedded in her hair from wearing the same 4 inch headband everyday to hide the patches.

By age 9, her hips wide and a pouch added space, Pretty prayed into the mirror and pushed her baby fat in and shoved her belly down, like the girls at Central Perk.

Just like the girls at Central Perk.

She imagined a boy would whisper when she introduced herself,

Pretty, you’re as pretty as your name.

How she wished for her name to bring her love.
Not the love that her parents thought of when they named her
- not a love rooted in friendship, kindness, and grace.
She wanted that romantic love. That fairy tale love.
And, she wanted that love to start with her name.

Pretty, you’re as pretty as your name.

Would it be Craig, or Nick, or maybe John?

One by one, the boys did stop to talk to her, as she settled in to her new grade school.

Your name is Pretty?

Each would ask, with a seemingly innocent interest in the new girl.

Pretty nodded. Each time, delicately with eyes down, heart vaulting, today was the day.

Pretty, like —

She hoped each boy couldn’t hear the bumping desperation in her chest.

Pretty…ugly!

Pretty…fat!

Pretty…Hindu!

Tears streaming for the years to come,
Pretty continued to wait.

Over the years, her braces fell off. Her black hair grew back with grand thickness. Her waist artfully covered by carefully chosen blouses. The crease enfolded.

Pretty started a new high school, age 13.

And, finally, it happened.

Sam, on a rainy Friday night, crooned in her ear as they sat on a bench. Her first date.

I love how your name is Pretty, just like you.

Pretty sat bewildered.

Thank you. I don’t know about all that.

Minutes later, she returned home.
Brushing over her tears with cream called fair and lovely.
She heard the words she wanted.
Why then did Pretty feel a hollow space open inside,
where that once persistent want used to be,
now a filthy void carved into her belly,
a ditch excavated by a frustration of purpose,
a refusal to believe,
Pretty resented Sam’s words.

What a liar.

Pretty stayed still, trapped in a well pressurized over the 13 years of her human life.

Until one bright March day, when she reached 14 years, Pretty, with her mother’s hand in her right palm and her father’s in her left, finally exhaled and shot a diamond through her nose.

Yes, I used to know a sad girl named Pretty.

May she rest in peace eternal.

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Priti Nemani @pritinotpretty

I write about law, social justice, dismantling oppressive systems, empowering racialized individuals, legal ed, representation, and mental health.