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When you are talented you don’t have to be pretty

Although the culture at large is obsessed with physical beauty, being an attractive woman can become the defining attribute of your identity.  Men of course can be vain and care deeply about their appearance, but there will still be societal expectations of him beyond his defined cheekbones and sculpted buttocks.  Yet for a woman, sometimes, just being pretty can be enough.

When a woman is gorgeous it can excuse her from being anything else.  That is why it is always surprising when a stunning girl also happens to be smart, or good at science, or interested in politics.  The “sexy professional” is a concept so absurd by cultural standards that it has become a cliché Halloween costume… in the realm of myth, fantasy, and the ridiculous.

Even though I know all this, and can identify the meaninglessness of judging women for her looks, I still do it everyday of my life.  I will flip through a magazine or watch a movie and think: “Well, she is not that pretty.  Her left eye is lower than her right and she has this weird dimple thing going on when she talks.  Her forehead is too small and there is a something funky going on with her left ear.  Oh, and her ass is kind of flat and flabby.”

What am I even talking about?? Why do I do that?

First of all, all these women are somehow in the spot light and therefor have even more pressure to be aesthetically perfect.  Which is bizarre considering how many foul looking men are able to be in that same position but are critiqued on skill alone.  Then I realized that the women I evaluate the most are the ones that I am not blown away by their talent.  I mean they are okay, they don’t suck, but they aren’t brilliant.  When a woman is really masterful at her craft, be it Lena Dunham, Adel, Brittany Howard, Meryl Streep, Toni Morrison, Janice Joplin, Virginia Wolf, Martha Graham… I don’t give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut what they look like.  I will maybe rip apart Brittany Spears for her hair extensions showing and having a frozen grin plastered to her face, but that is because she is only mediocre at singing.

So being excessively beautiful may stunt your growth as a human, artist, or thinker because people’s expectations of you will be lower.  You wont have to push yourself as hard.  Beauty can conceal your averageness.

Supposedly I am not supposed to tell my daughter she is pretty all the time because that will infect her psyche and she will start to believe her beauty is tied with her self-worth.  No doubt.  This is true, and I down with this idea.  But I also don’t want her relying on her lovely face, and be unexceptional in the rest of her life, because it was too easy to invest more in her genetic disposition.  That sounds lame!  I would so much rather The Munch impress people with her endless genius than her tits or ass.  Of course I don’t want to give her a complex and never acknowledge her adorableness, but at the same time most insanely attractive people are also insanely boring.





4 Responses to When you are talented you don’t have to be pretty

  1. holly says:

    It’s a matter of balance. I guess the best way is to express to her how clever she is when she is clever followed by a hug with the whispered afterthought “such a pretty little girl.”

  2. aallia says:

    Toni for your next entry I expect u to defend our kind and exposes all the negativity, attacks and shit beautiful smart and talented girls (like us 😛 ) have to face everyday. How people snigger when u tell them u r into politics or predicted the economic crisis or when u dare tell them u r into acting, comedy, writing or dare i say singing! everyone assumes u r some wannabe-star bimbo with zero talent. even tho they’ve never heard u or seen u perform! and then what is the point of performing to such an audience? Oh but I digress… 😛

  3. holly says:

    And then when you do succeed, they hate you even more and want to bring you down, men as well as women. It gets better when you are older because then you are just well preserved. I think the real issue is misogyny.

  4. lizzie says:

    but still, if a dude is a mediocre actor/writer he doesnt immediately get scrutinized for his looks…it’s all fucked up. i mean, even the idea of having to be “a lady” is ridiculous. yes, guys feel a parallel pressure to “be a man”, but honestly, how many real life tests of that are there any more? it’s not nearly as limiting….

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