See, I knew I would come to regret writing and posting a giant rant at one o’clock in the morning. Because now, reading back, and reading your awesome comments, I realize that there are a few things that I want to add, or explain.
First of all, my main point is that appearance-based compliments and insults are our go-to when it comes to women. I remember going through a really tough time in my early twenties and, when I went to the doctor to tell him how sad and hopeless I felt, he said, but you’ve got everything going for you – you’re young, attractive, and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.
Er, what? How was that even a response to the problems that I was trying to fix?
When we want to make a woman feel good, we often tell her how pretty she is, how nice her hair is, or how well she’s dressed. And I don’t think that these things are bad in and of themselves, but I do think that this is indicative of how our society continues to view women. We consider a woman’s appearance to be her most important asset, plain and simple.
My friend L over at Life In Pint-Sized Form also posted about Ugly Acceptance, and I think she made a lot of really wonderful and succinct points. My favourite is this one:
” … the Ugly Acceptance movement … isn’t about accepting that you, personally, are ugly. It’s about accepting that beauty doesn’t fit into glossy little boxes with bows on the top.”
Yes, exactly. I’m not trying to say that you are ugly, what I’m saying is that all women, even incredibly beautiful celebrities, feel ugly sometimes. No woman can ever fully achieve the incredibly high standards for beauty that our society sets. And the thing is, I am tired of feeling like that is something that I need to achieve.
To go back to my original story about my trip to the doctor, imagine that same story but with a depressed young man in place of a young woman. Would that doctor ever try to comfort a sad, hopeless man by telling him that he was beautiful? Not bloody likely.
The next time you want to give someone a little pick-me-up, want to say something that will make them feel better, try to stay away from compliments about their appearance. Or, if you do really want to remind them that they’re pretty, add that they are also smart, and funny, and valuable to you as a friend. Praise their accomplishments and positive personality traits instead of their looks. Admire the things about them that they have control over, that they have done for themselves, instead of resorting to the old standard, but you’re bee-yoo-tee-ful.
For once, try to look beneath the surface, and see straight into that person’s heart (use your x-ray goggles for this). Chances are it’s beautiful, too.
See? So pretty.