you don’t owe prettiness to anyone

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When I was a little girl growing up in Iowa I remember the exact moment when I was in the third grade and an adult person in my life told me that I needed to watch what I eat because “fat doesn’t look good on girls.” No joke. They said this, as if it was okay. I was 8 years old, and the pressure of being pretty was already being put on me.

Of course, this statement wasn’t as much of a shock as it should have been. I had already started to pick up on how much being pretty was important if you were a girl. Yes, I was only 8, but I have always been a quiet person and therefore a very observant person. I still am, I think it’s one of my greatest tools. I notice the things that most people don’t because they’re too busy talking. Anyways… as long as I can remember people were always telling me how cute I was, and how blessed I was that I looked so much like my mother because she is so pretty, and she is, my mother is a good looking lady (and has aged very well). I know the people who made these comments meant well, but I thought it was funny that at family gatherings I was only ever complimented on my looks whereas all of my male cousins would receive comments on how funny they were, or smart or rambunctious. Hardly anyone ever commented on how cute or handsome they were.

Adolescence was even worse. I was inundated with “products and tips” on how to be pretty and they came from every direction. Cleanser, moisturizer, makeup, dieting tips, exercise tips, fashion advice, hair styling tips, they came from my family, friends, magazines, TV, and even random strangers at times. We even had school functions that encouraged it like the homecoming queen position or the prom. I always thought teenage-hood was filled with mixed messages. One minute I’d be sitting in health class hearing about eating disorders and how girls should think more positively of themselves and not be ashamed of their bodies, and then the next period we were voting for homecoming court. Is this still happening in schools, or have we moved past this yet?

As much as I have been affected by the “pretty gaze” society has put on women, thankfully I am not in the spotlight like other women are. I cannot believe how harsh we can be on female celebrities or public figures. People get downright mad when a famous woman isn’t their idea of pretty. In fact, that seems to be the first thing they care about, is how the woman looks, more then everything else, her talent, intellect, strength, capability, all of it comes second. Don’t believe me? Let’s talk about a movie that recently came out, Ghostbusters.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the new Ghostbusters movie. I was so excited for it and not because it was an all-women cast, but because I love funny people and the stars of this movie are hilarious, and probably some of the biggest hitters in comedy right now, the fact that they are women is just a bonus. I understood why some people were upset about the movie because you never want to see a good thing be messed with, and let’s be honest, there have been a lot of movie remakes that have gone horribly – I’m looking at you Footloose. If anyone ever tried to remake my favorite movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it would be game over for that production company. Unfortunately, these were not the only reasons for why some people were in an uproar about this movie. Some were upset because the cast was all women, and some were even upset because they felt the women were not pretty or sexy enough. Are you kidding me?

First of all, I don’t remember anyone criticizing the original Ghostbusters on this, and, this is just my opinion, they were not exactly sex symbols. Or maybe they were, it’s so hard to tell who was hot in the 80s.

Second, these women ARE gorgeous. I would kill for Melissa McCarthy’s hair and complexion, and was I the only one who saw Leslie Jones rock that dress on the red carpet? Who cares if their “uniforms” were not fitted enough? They are FIGHTING GHOSTS and doing it so well that Kate McKinnon’s fight scene actually gave me goose bumps. I do want to note that I think one person should have had their uniform fitted and that was Chris Hemsworth. Just sayin 😉

How ridiculous is it that a movie this entertaining and with amazingly talented performers could be judged primarily on looks as if these women owe us that. And only because they are women do we feel like they owe us that, because again, I don’t remember anyone evaluating Dan Aykroyd with this same measuring stick, and I love you Dan, but you were not a beef cake.

I am tired of this. I am tired of reading articles about Mindy Kaling where the first questions are always about how she gets away with not being the “ideal body type” in Hollywood. This woman writes, produces and stars in her OWN TV SHOW. This doesn’t just happen. This takes an incredible amount of talent and hard work. Ask her about that! Or at least ask her about that first. Maybe this wouldn’t bother me as much if I was also reading articles on Kevin James where the interviewer asks him how he continues to get starring roles even though he has a spare tire. But I don’t! Because they don’t exist! Because nobody asks these questions of men.

As I have aged the pressure to be pretty has somewhat subsided but I think this is mainly due to the fact that with each year I care less and less what people think of me and also because my perception of pretty has changed drastically. I remember in college one of my good friends was this crazy frat boy who I think I liked because he was not only fun but he was honest, and there’s nothing I like more than people who tell it like it is. I remember one morning during finals a few of us went out for breakfast and somehow started talking about what men find attractive. My frat-boy friend gave a shocking answer when he said that what men find most attractive is when they can tell a woman is comfortable with herself. At the time I was very doubtful of what he said and I’m pretty sure I followed up with the question, “and she bleaches her hair too, right?” Now that I’m older I think I finally understand what he means.

As a woman you can spend endless amounts of time and money to make yourself pretty but at the end of the day it means nothing if you don’t know who you are and your happiness depends on what other people think of you. To me the most attractive woman is the one that knows what she’s about, she enjoys her life and she gives zero f*cks about what anybody thinks. You could put this woman in flip flops, yoga pants, a baggy t-shirt, a messy pony tail, sans make-up and she would be killin it as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t know how, but there needs to be a shift in or society’s attitude towards pretty when it comes to women. We need to stop putting unrealistic expectations on women, we need to value them for more than what they look like, or at the very least we need to get to a point where it is not okay to fat shame an eight year old girl.

 

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