There’s just one question I have for all those girls out there (whom am I kidding, including myself): what is pretty? And what does it mean to feel pretty? Some might argue that the word is a bit too juvenile to name that feeling that is associated with what we find beautiful; that “pretty” is something reserved for six-year-olds in beauty pageants (thank you, France, by the way, for taking a step against that monstrosity of a social norm) and Barbie dolls.
Call it whatever you want, beautiful, pretty, divine, whatever it is, it seems as though we girls are in constant pursuit of this unattainable it. About a week ago, our Communication Research professor handed us a copy of a Spanish popular magazine “for the whole family” and when I reached the Health section, all I could find was mini snippets of articles aimed at making you “more beautiful.” We ingest these kinds of articles every day, we watch TV shows and YouTube videos on make-up and hair care, weight loss and god knows what else. But it seems kind of weird to try to attain something without even knowing what it is.
When it comes down to our definition of beauty, the one that has been established (or not, as I would say) in our society, enough is never enough. In a way, women have always been waiting for Godot in this regard – always aspired to find something, get it, earn it. We see beauty as an achievement, something to strive for; yet it remains somewhere outside of our hold.
This philosophical profoundness collapsed upon my tiny shoulders as I was shaving my legs in the shower today, seeing as it’s almost Valentine’s Day and all that. I admit that I am one of those girls who are all right with not picking up the shaver when it’s freaking cold outside and also when I am in a stable loving relationship, in which my boyfriend assures me he is fine with any amount of body hair I have. That’s one thing I love about him – he’s just so far from media and all things twenty-first century that he finds me beautiful without wanting to alter anything. He loves me just the way I am. Because he doesn’t know what beauty is in the media. He doesn’t want to know. And this is why he is invaluable as a human being – these kinds of people are almost extinct at this point.
Now, I’m not saying that if he had grown up surrounded by the barrage of media that bombards us every day, he would dump my sorry skinny ass the moment I stopped fitting the beauty profile. I’m just saying that he knows his ignorance, and takes advantage of it. Yet we seem to think we know what we’re talking about when we talk about pretty and not, yet, at the end of the day, we have no idea. We just know we want more beauty. We have to be prettier: skinnier, with shinier hair, longer nails… Whatever. The list goes on and on, fluctuates with the new fads we’re fed, and never seems to disappear. Not for one single moment.
Whatever happened to just feeling good? I suppose now that we talk about being beautiful inside and out, we’re presented with an even bigger problem – the exterior might be nice and shiny, yet the inside might feel like a homeless cat threw up in there. See what I mean? Not only do we want to look beautiful, we also want to feel beautiful. But the world ‘feel’ comes with the internalised aspect we’ve associated with it, and we tend to forgo the fact that now feelings have also become part of the public sphere. Society tells us not only how to look and what to wear, but also how we’re supposed to feel to be good.
Now, I don’t want to go a whole feminist rant about how horrendous it is that we’re being bossed around by men in suits and ties – because they feel the same pressure, – and also because at the end of the day, we did this to ourselves. Beauty has become a competition.
Think of it in terms of the Hunger Games, if you will. We compete with each other to the death. We have no idea why we’re doing this but we’re ready to do anything to achieve this victory, which in the end is… Not victory at all. I might be waxing philosophical here but when you think about it, nobody can really define what it is we’re looking for and whenever we think we’re close to achieving it we’re just… disappointed. So we carry on fighting.
And on and on it goes.
Probably has been like that since the first homo sapiens woman saw another homo sapiens woman. Who knows. Who knows.
So what do we do?