Friday, October 29, 2010

"A marketable facade"


I did not expect this video to make me cry. Much of what is produced in this vein tends toward the “But you are pretty!” variety, and I have no use for that. Not every woman is pretty.

We should not have to be, to be valued, to be considered fully human, to be considered worth as much as a beautiful woman.

The conflation of a woman’s beauty and desirability to men with her worth causes so, so much misery. You can hear it in this clip, both in the speaker’s voice and in the rising crescendo of voices and cheers from the audience.

I read one woman's response to this and it struck me. This resonates with me, she observed. But yet I still have my tummy tuck scheduled. I am still on powerful medication for acne. And I’m thinking about Botox. Why can’t I just internalize this message?

Because the message isn’t – and shouldn’t be – about how individual women need to change (although I’m not at all surprised a woman construed it as such, considering that’s the overwhelming message given to women). The message of the video is that women are deeply, painfully hurt by the fact that the most valuable asset a woman can have is, as noted in the piece, a “marketable façade”.

There is enormous pressure yet on women to conform to feminine standards of beauty. Very real consequences often await those of us who fail to do so. That’s probably why you can’t just internalize the message. Hell, you can be a viable presidential candidate and still have someone publicly ridicule your perceived lack of attractiveness. If you’re a woman.

I admire any woman who is able to say no to these standards, but I don’t expect every woman to do so. This sort of thing will have to get chipped slowly away. Every woman who can say to their daughter, however, as Makkai promises to, that no, no, you will never, ever, be merely pretty, is one more piece that falls away, one woman or girl a little less hurt or fractured.

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