Jennifer Tress's husband cheated on her because, he said, she wasn’t “pretty enough”. Years after their divorce his painful words led her to become what she calls “an accidental body-image activist”.
Jennifer Tress, a consultant for the federal government by day, is bringing her multimedia salons on self-esteem to 100 colleges over the next few months.
Tress’s college tour coincides with the publication of her book of comic stories, ‘You’re Not Pretty Enough: You Can’t Make Up Real Life’. The book has a retro-looking photograph of her 13-year-old self on the cover, sporting alarmingly bushy eyebrows and a frizzy mullet.
"I have been 20, even 40 pounds heavier than this. I like to eat. I like to drink," she offers while setting up for one of her salons last month at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. "When people hear what I’m doing, they say, ‘I don’t know, Jen, you are pretty, so should you do this?’" She relates this anecdote with the breezy confidence of a woman who once had a bad spell, has come out of it and is using her newfound confidence to inspire others.
She created the website yourenotprettyenough.com, thinking it was an inside joke for people who knew the story.
But she noticed that the website started getting a startling amount of traffic from people Googling variations of the phrase. Around the same time, she heard that tweens and teenage girls were uploading videos of themselves to YouTube and asking the question, “Am I ugly?”
“It really hurt me,” she said of seeing these raw videos. “And it just sparked something in me to do something about it.” And the self-esteem salon was born.