Pretty

Women are taught from birth that they should aspire to be ‘pretty’. From the giant bows stuck on their infant heads lest they inexcusably be mistaken for boys, to the constant barrage of media messages that girls receive throughout their childhood, by the time they reach adulthood, women have largely been conditioned to value their looks and how others perceive their attractiveness as their most valuable asset.

But woe betide the woman who has bought the messages, conformed to society’s beauty standards, and KNOWS she is pretty. She will be put back in her box quickly and viciously, slut-shamed and silenced for daring to acknowledge that she’s won out in the beauty sweepstakes. The message here is: ‘Be pretty, but don’t tell us you’re pretty. We will decide whether you meet our expectations but you are not allowed to have an opinion on the matter.’

Recently, a group of sorority girls attended a baseball game in Arizona. Moments after an announcement was made encouraging fans to take selfies of themselves in the stadium, the cameras trained themselves on this group of young women snapping away, making silly faces and holding hot dogs aloft. The two male announcers took it upon themselves to mock and deride their actions for several minutes, unbeknownst to the group of women, making it clear that their actions were vacuous and vain, despite encouragement from the sponsors to do exactly what they were doing. The selfies were reposted by one of the announcers on Twitter, where people tore them down with great merriment. How dare women attend a sporting event and then only sit on the sidelines caring about how they look? Umm, hello, what the hell are CHEERLEADERS then?

This exemplifies the struggle women face with wanting to be ‘pretty’ and then facing the consequences when they are either not pretty enough, or get too confident about their looks. The reason there is such a dichotomy is because our attractiveness is not ours. Beauty exists for the male gaze, and for male judgement. It is not ours to comment on or possess, for ‘pretty’ is a title we have to have bestowed upon us, not something we can claim to be. The amount of anguish that women feel over their lifetimes about not being pretty enough is time-consuming, soul-destroying and another example of the ways in which we are silenced and held back from achieving things with our minds, our actions and our personalities.

Katie Makkai’s poem remains one of the most powerful commentaries on what it means to be ‘Pretty’.

Rules for your boobs

Along with rules for your vagina, there are also copious rules for your boobs. Observe.

This is what your boobs should look like. High and huge, and positioned near or on a bucket of fries. Selling stuff (including hydrogenated fat-drenched fried potatoes) is what boobs do best.

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But those boobs are covered with cumbersome cloth. Let’s get these puppies out for a stroll in the open air!

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I know, let’s put stuff between the boobs too, and have some hands squeezing them! That will definitely get people’s attention! It is Perfectly Okay to use boobs to sell stuff because boobs are pretty and girls are pretty and pretty girls with boobs exist to please the corneas of the masses, amiright?

Oh, but actually? Boobs are cool but nipples are mundane because men have them too, and also they are pretty gross because they remind us of boobs’ primary physiological function….

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….which is to eject milk directly into the mouths of our young, for nourishment, comfort and growth. Huuurrrrgh. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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WARNING: the boob you are about to see is not trying to sell anything!! If you are a hyper-masculine dude-bro or a sensitive lady pearl-clutcher, put your beer or mint julep down before you look, lest your retinas be damaged by the sight of non-objectified, non-consumerist, non-covered-up boobs.

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I mean, honestly. How is babies feeding from boobies making anyone any money in this economy, or creating a viable market in which to exploit women for pleasure and profit? I tell you, it’s simply unacceptable in this day and age that a perfectly good breast could just be thrown up there for all to see it, without even having the DECENCY  to try to sell us something. The baby could at least hold a beer or some nacho cheese dip near the boob while he selfishly deflates it and reminds us that it’s attached to a woman with an identity and a FAMILY. And where is her nursing cover?! What an exhibitionist boob nazi, shoving it in our faces. Ugh!

I wish I didn’t have to impart this possibly upsetting information to you, oh Gentle Reader, but I’m afraid them’s the rules and we’re just the poor fools living under them.