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This is a new blog July 29, 2009

Posted by januaryolympus in Uncategorized.
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But I am going to start writing in it immediately, because I have been reading so many blogs lately and I want one too. My first post actually started as a comment over at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose.

Someone wrote that:

I was in a Panera Bread the other day, and this amazing-looking woman with long, blond, straight hair came in the door. Her fashion was impeccable, and her body was gorgeous. Hence I began to rip her apart in my mind, thinking that she was stupid, vain, uneducated, etc. So. Ashamed.

I realize that I do this because I struggle so much with the way I look–because I do not fit the societal norm of gorgeous. So I hide in my intellect and in my education. Sigh.

My thoughts on this:

Ever since I was a little girl, society, my parents, my teachers, my mentors, my friends, the media and I have all pit “beautiful girls” against “smart girls.” I was taught that I shouldn’t care about my looks because I am smart, and the pretty girls are vapid. Female heroines in the movies and books I read either seemed unattainably perfect – gorgeous AND smart – or just smart, in which case they would almost always have to outsmart/defeat the pretty, mean, stupid rival. Plain/average/ugly and smart is rarely pitted against ugly and smart, or even ugly and stupid, although occasionally it is up against pretty and equally smart. Ugly/smart and Pretty/stupid are portrayed as opposites, and plain women are never allowed to celebrate our imperfect bodies and looks. Instead, we are told that while some women get their worth from their looks, we get ours from our brains. As if we wouldn’t be worthwhile anyway. As if we can’t appreciate the bodies and faces we got. As if pretty women should be allowed to celebrate themselves for both reasons, but we aren’t allowed to because we violate some (false) law of nature by existing.

I don’t think that what we are doing is “hiding” inside our intellect. I think we are responding to what we’ve been taught – that if we don’t meet societal norms of beauty, we are to respond that “We are smarter, nicer, more interesting, etc” than the beautiful women who seem to be elevated above us. We are taught that we should have to “justify” our plainness/averageness/ugliness/whatever because we are smarter, and that we would somehow be totally worthless individuals if we were plain and not smart. But this is just another way that the patriarchy divides us…it’s not because we are cowardly hiders, it’s because we’ve been divided by a system that survives by keeping women divided and conquered.

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