I’m slowly teaching myself to love myself – pores and all.I lost my confidence in high school, the story of how still too painful to recall. Since then, I loathed how I look like: the long face, small eyes, upturned nose, brown lips, long chin, huge pores, huge legs and wide feet. And in the few times I felt kinda pretty, there was always a voice that reminded me of that hideous comment in high school.No, I wasn’t pretty. I was never going to be pretty. Even believing the contrary was a crime.Then, as I started earning my own money, I discovered the magic of make up. Suddenly, I have between my fingers a magic wand that made my eyes appear bigger and more alive. My pores disappeared at the lightest touch of creams and powders. My lips were my favorite shade of pink.And the shoes. Beautiful shoes whisked me to beautiful places. On my high heels, my unshapely legs took shape, my feet didn’t seem as wide.I had shoes and I had make up and I was happy.And then, last year during Lent, I decided – or rather was forced – to fast on make up and heels. For the forty days that led to Easter, I was to be bare faced and on flat shoes.I died, indeed. Letting go of the only things that made me feel pretty was hard and painful.But by Easter, I discovered something: that feeling – feeling pretty – was an illusion.At the end of the day I was still the girl with the long face, small eyes, upturned nose, brown lips, long chin, huge pores, huge legs and wide feet.Then I realized I had spent all my money on things that fed that illusion. Then I’d spend more money on makeup removers and facials and foot massages to alleviate the after effects. Being pretty was unnecessarily strenuous.Just like what Pistol Annies sang: Being pretty ain’t pretty at all.I seldom wear makeup and high heels now and I only do so when forced by special occasions. When people tell me “mag-lipstick ka nga,” I’d smile and walk away. After all, people who want to be with me will still be with me even if I don’t look like Barbie.In addition, most makeup I used to use either had animal-derived ingredients or tested on animals or both. I can’t continue using them anymore. There’s vegan makeup, of course, but they’re ridiculously expensive and I’d rather spend my money on food that nourish me from the inside.I have given up on being pretty. I’m trying my best to cut off the chains that bind me to the influences of mass media and the industries. I’m trying to reclaim myself. I may not always like the woman I see in the mirror but I’m learning to love her in spite and because of the flaws.I may not be pretty. But this – pores and all – is me.