Sunday, November 11, 2007

beauty is skin deep, ugly runs down to the bones

Scene 1: a young CHILD, probably a girl, is talking with her mother or some other older female figure (OFF) in her life

CHILD. I'm not pretty, no one likes me! I'm too fat and ugly.
OFF. Beauty is the eye of the beholder/plump is pleasing, more for squeezing/it's not what's on the outside, but what's on the inside/beauty is a fading flower/you can't judge a book by its cover/beauty is only a lightswitch away/beauty is only skin deep/beauty is a matter of taste.

Scene 2: CHILD is now confronting the BULLY that has been teasing her (or him, I suppose)

BULLY. Hahaha, you're fat and ugly and nobody likes you.
CHILD (more than slightly smugly, as she (or he, I suppose) has been waiting for this moment ever since Scene 1). It's not what's on the outside, it's what's on the inside!
BULLY. That's what ugly people say. Haha!

Almost every single female on the planet (and maybe some males) has gone through a version of these two exchanges at some point in her (or his) lifetime. A peer teases you about being somehow unattractive, you cry to the OFF in your life, you confront the peer, and guess what? Your cliché of choice falls flat, and you lose respect for the OFF in your life, realizing on a childish level that she is out of touch with reality.

It's easy for the "hot chicks" to go around comforting the not-so-hotties with the same platitudes first heard from the mouths of OFFs. Maybe beautiful girls don't get everything handed to them, but they sure as hell get more chances. Metaphorically and literally, more doors are opened for them.

Ever notice how when men talk about a smart woman who is also beautiful, the monologue will begin thusly: "Oh, I know her. Beautiful girl, so articulate too! etc." as if "beautiful" is superior to the attributes for which she actually worked? No, it's more important to them that she won the genetic lottery for looks; anything else is peripheral. See how the focus on looks not only causes the not-so-beautiful to be ignored, but also trivializes the accomplishments of women who happen to be beautiful?

Needless to say, I am one of those young women in the not-so-hot crowd. Children are cruel, and my male cousins, as well as one of my aunts, were the first to taunt me about my weight. All the clichés with which my mother would comfort me would be met with the devastating retorts that were simply variations of "only ugly people say that". I had latched onto Judge Judy's book title, Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever, as my personal platitude for a while, until I realized that there were plenty of intelligent women with looks to kill as well. Those women are the competition against whom women like me just cannot measure. I was to quickly find that it doesn't really get any better when you get older, either. People may not overtly call you a fattie or some other slur or be as relentless in their comments, but the abuse continues in other ways. Of course, the gems amongst women and men work on their ability to not judge superficially and to look beyond the surface of the individuals they meet. I am not denying that phenomenon and am appreciative of it. It's just hard to ignore the facts about beauty.

1) To men, just looking at a beautiful woman is like giving a puppy a treat. No wonder hot chicks get into places, whilst not-so-hotties have to wait their turn or fight their way in. If they choose the latter option, of course, they run the risk of not just being ugly, but an ugly bitch.

2) Attraction might grow over time, but what about those who are never even given a chance? Maybe behind that sad, plain-looking girl's expression is a brilliant brain and an even more brilliant smile, but most men wouldn't even bother to talk to an "ugly."

3) Don't blame the girl in #2 for not smiling more, as the statistics are behind her misery. People stop to help beautiful women who need it, "cuter" babies get more attention (which has longer-term effects than most people realize), and hotter lawyers get more attention at trials. (source)

4) Fatness only hinders women. Fatter women earn less, fatter men earn more. More generally speaking, prettier people earn more.

5) Judge Judy isn't that comforting, really. Not all beautiful women are stupid. In fact, some of them are really smart. That means that the smart but not-so-hot women have major, major competition.

I remember when the Samantha Runnion case was big news; another child was kidnapped around the same time but received no attention, presumably because she wasn't a blond little white girl. The same goes for the JonBenet Ramsey vs Sherrice Iverson kidnappings. The blond little Ramsey girl, as a participant in the child beauty pageants that serve as pedophile fodder, got more attention than poor Sherrice. Being pretty apparently can help your chances against an abductor --- a life-or-death matter. The sad part is that I can hear a deep voiced retort in my head already, as the more uncouth amongst males might deign this "natural selection" against "uglies". It's so ingrained of a response, to hear that voice, that I can't tune it out.

None of us really tunes it out, and so the human understanding of other human beings remains superficial.

This is one of the areas in which Myspace bulletins are actually right. There was a popular one called "I'm sorry" that I've seen make the rounds several times, and I'm inclined to actually agree with its message. Girls are forced to measure up against an impossible standard, leading to low self-esteem; boys are supposed to act macho and only go for "hot chicks," causing them to not pursue the not-so-hottie in whom they might be interested. Low self-esteem is not attractive, feeding the cycle; unhappy relationships with people with whom you have nothing in common but physical attraction gets in the way of building something more lasting and more real.

This is the world as I find it, not the world I hope is out there. Pretty people only dominate without breaking a nail or mussing that hairdo only because the not-so-hot let them do so. We're all guilty of it, hence its existence.

BS Factor:
18 political women judged for their looks instead of their ideas


Liz Losh said...

The rhetoric about female beauty has been a theme in a lot of YouTube videos as well, some of which are made by corporations, such as the Dove YouTube videos that we will see in class on Wednesday, and some are made by nonprofit organizations like this one:

Anonymous said...

It has come full from heart. I can feel the pain. Its a crude world. Where even the mathured and highly educated ppl go for looks. Only thing i can say is ITS A CRUDEEEE world. SICK WORLD. WHERE IS GOD. WHEREEEE IS GOD?