Collaborations of Abstraction

I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I do.

Posted on: December 5, 2009

My cousin recently wrote a post on Facebook and tagged me in it. This is not unusual. She’s a writer and she will ask often my advice or opininon on something she has written. I like it. I take it as a huge compliment.

(Sidenote: My cousin is in high school. I have a huge amount of empathy for her, but she seems to be doing pretty well. She’s amazing.)

But this post was different. She was responding to something Marilyn Monroe was quoted as saying: ” All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.” In response was several different opinions of why this is or is not a good idea and why.

(To see the post in its entirety, click here.)

It took me a long time to respond. But when I did, it felt good. And this is what I wrote:

I have read and reread these posts, your thoughts and your friends thoughts. I have gathered my thoughts. I have started writing and stopped. Over and over and over. And I wondered, Why can’t I respond to this?

Maybe it’s because I am what some people call pretty. If you look up the definiton it reads something like “in line with conventional ideas of beauty.” I don’t generally agree with many conventional ideas, but I’ll take the compliment.

The simple truth is this: Our society has made it HARD to be a woman.

Growing up you are pigeonholed: You’re told you’re pretty and suddenly you can’t be smart. You don’t drink or do drugs? What a prude. If you’re artistic then you certainly must not be an athlete. You make everyone laugh? You’re probably not that good looking. Have a lot of guy friends? Slut.

Later on, these strains ease and the pendulum swings. You must be everything to everyone:

College graduate, career woman, loving and attentive mother, sex-goddess wife, gourmet chef, sexy maid, home owner, accountant, caring daughter, gift giver, Olympic athlete, and therapist to acquaintances who call themselves friends…just to name a few of the hats we’re expected to wear.

This is the unfortunate business of living in a world where things have, for so long, been seen in black and white. But I don’t write these things to discourage you, ladies. I write these things because I know that we are so close to moving away from the world of extremes and into the comfort of the colors in between, or the shades of gray.

When I read that every girl should be told they are pretty, I agree. But what I think is that every girl (and boy) should be told they are whatever they want to be. And everything they want to be. So if you want to be pretty, go ahead. And if you want to be an alien from Tuzak, hey! That’s cool too.

I’d like to think that the generations of people who need to put things in boxes is growing old and that the thought process is dying too. But in order for us to usher in an era where our children can and will be whatever they want, we need to be aware of this line of thinking. Knowing is half the battle, right?

So I write this to encourage you ladies. Don’t fall in line. Do what you want. And if that means you want to go to college, get a great job, buy a house, get married and have a family, then DO IT!! But if you want to travel to Malta, become a gypsie, fish for your meals, and share your life with twelve people who don’t know (or care) what your last name is, then who is anyone to stop you? You can do whatever you want to. And so can I. And that is my idea of what beauty is.


1 Response to "I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I do."

Rebecca! I’m honored that I inspired this. And that I got linked to xD

I agree with you completely, and it’s something I was also thinking about when I was writing that particularly vehement response…

Forget being a woman–I think it’s hard to be a person in general. Women are not the only ones who are expected to be more than one person at the same time. My boyfriend right now (erm, yes, did I mention I got asked out by a great friend of mine last week…? ^^”) is a prime example of this.

I think, especially as adolescents (which I know you’re not, but I am, and therefore it seems like the easiest thing to think of), we’re expected to be too many people. We’re expected to be kids sometimes and adults other times. We’re supposed to have “the time of our lives” and also learn to be responsible. “Sophomore” seems like the best summary: a wise idiot.

So, being who you want to be sounds like the best kind of beautiful ♥

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Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life



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