Somehow, in the evolution of humanity and gender, being a female started to mean that you have to be pretty in order for you to get anywhere in life, for people to like you.
I think that’s bullshit.
This video is of Katie Makkai performing her poem “Pretty” and it speaks volume.
Why do people think that being a woman in so intrinsically connected to looking good? That’s the number one compliment for most women (at least most people think it is), is to tell her she looks nice. Or that she’s beautiful, pretty, hot. It’s also (one of) the first insults women say to/about other women, that she’s ugly or her hair is weird or she has acne. Have you ever said “well at least she’s fat” about someone you don’t like?
Because somehow, our worth as women is directly dependent on how we look. If we’re not pretty, we don’t matter. We don’t fit in to society.
It starts young, too. People dress up their baby girls in dresses and do their hair all nice, and as soon as Grandma sees her it’s all “oh look at how pretty you are! what a pretty girl!”
That’s the first thing that should be changed. Next time you see a little girl, don’t tell her she’s pretty. Instead, ask her what she’s learning in school, or what she wants to be when she grows up, or if she does any sports. Compliment her on how funny or smart she is.
We need to re-shape the way girls and women think about themselves. If all we hear growing up is “you’re so pretty,” that becomes the most important thing to us. That’s what we worry about constantly. We don’t feel like we can leave the house without putting on make-up. We get super self-conscious if a zit pops up or if our hair is being weird that day. In high school, I convinced my mom to let me stay home one day because my allergies were acting up and my eye was a bit swollen.
Every girl wants to feel pretty. And there’s nothing wrong with that, unless that’s what she wants most. As soon as appearance becomes more important than school, work, or hobbies, that’s where we’ve gone wrong.
We need to teach our girls not to be constantly worrying about how they look. Instead, encourage them to read a book or play a sport. Don’t buy them barbies with unrealistic beauty standards, buy them other dolls, toys, puzzles, books, or crafts that exercise the important things.