I’ve been seeing this thing pop up on posts around the blogosphere for the past few days. It’s a short clip of a very cute girl sans make-up who dolls up to demonstrate to the audience how the optical illusion of attractiveness is created. The whole of this thing might be tongue-in-cheek to mock the stupidity of boys or even girls who do this to themselves, but I’m going to take what she says at face value, literally, and break it down for you.
“If you were born really ugly like me…” she says at the 10 second mark. Right away I thought, this is a problem.
She’s very cute without make-up, I think. Fresh faced, sweet looking, something odd going on with her eyebrows but some people just have that compulsion to pluck them into strange patterns meant to highlight shape of eye when the original hairline was more than capable of that duty. I can see the desire to thin them a little, but to remove them to this point? A pain no one should feel they need to endure. Moving on.
There are many young girls who think they are ugly. They aren’t. What is happening is that girls wind up with a flawed sense of their own looks based on the looks of other girls around them. Girls will always compare each other to other girls. What gets me is the fact that this comparison is always, nearly always, going to be based on appearance rather than math ability or piano training or track meets or whatever girls are into when they’re not pathologically obsessed with their faces.
“I’ve bleached the absolute shit out of my hair,” she says at :20. At least she’s somewhat aware that she’s doing serious chemical damage to a part of her body for the sole point of “looking good” by some undetermined scale of measure. Who even started this trend? Was it some sexy, already genetically blessed celebrity, who wasn’t satisfied over being as blond as she was? Or some dark haired beauty who really took “blondes have more fun” to heart? It doesn’t matter if you splurge on a day in a salon to do this or try careful application of peroxide at home, I still wonder why this one of the steps women think they need to take on the road towards whatever they define as beautiful.
“If you don’t want to tan your skin, you can use fake self tanner.” :29 Next she jokes about how bad that looks, but still: do it anyway. It’s all about that road to beauty. I think it’s worth saying here that women in other cultures have felt the need to bleach their skin to look paler. Never mind racism aimed at other people, why are you dissatisfied with your own genetic heritage to the point where you don’t want to look like your own damned ancestors anymore? A tan when you’ve earned one outside while working is one thing. Pale skin is supposed to brown a little in the sun (it’s a built in safety feature) but people tend to take this way overboard. When exactly did natural skin tone become anathema to attractiveness?
“Glasses are for douchebags.” :42 Yes, it’s far better to pay for tiny little pieces of plastic and stab them into your eyeballs every day. God forbid a girl wear glasses. Glasses are physical proof of imperfection, after all, and we all have to look perfect at all times, ladies. How else can we get a man? It can’t look like there’s anything physically wrong with us. We have to hide a very real and very important fact about ourselves – that we’re blind as fucking bats without them. A lie this big is a great way to start a relationship, I tell you.
After the suggestion to wash that ugly face and body since it probably needs it, talk turns to the application of the make-up. “The goal is to make yourself look nothing like yourself.” 1:08 And, if you think you want the natural look, think again. The whole point of this ridiculous, time (and money) consuming ritual is to paint yourself up until you look less like an individual and more like one of a million Barbie Dolls assaulted by a blind paint mixer.
“The next step is to get yourself a job that’s super degrading.” 2:01 and “Before I go to work, I like to pump myself up by crying over my Masters degree.” 2:07 By this point in the film, she’s looking Hollywood fab, I’ll admit. She’s achieved that look of beauty so many women crave for themselves to the point where they’ll go in and have doctors change their eyes, botox their foreheads, shave bits off their noses, cheeks, and chins, and then still paint over all of it.
Again, it seems clear to her on some level that by performing this ritual to remake herself to this point, with it comes the compulsion to pretend that she hasn’t gone to school and actually learned something. She may cry over that but she is still performing this ritual. She is still going to perform it. She is still going to work herself over into something that’s a mere copy of some other thing and wind up with a man who apparently only likes her because she looks like a copy of some other thing.
“I like to leave all my old Facebook pictures on Facebook.” Look at her photo at 2:37. Again the eyebrows are a bit of whatthefuckery, but at least she looks like a human being with her own unique personality and a taste for guacamole, or whatever it is that’s on her finger near her lips. She looks very cute here. She looks totally fine here. She looks like someone I’d be friends with here. She looks real here.
She looks real. She’s not looking like some guy’s dream of a sex toy. She’s not painted up and weighed down by powders and gloss and fake eyelashes. You can really see who she is in this one simple snapshot. Who wouldn’t want this girl? Honestly; who could look at this picture and say, “My god, it looks like she was hit in the face with an ugly stick”?
Apparently she could.
This is what women need to be concerned about. This constant drive toward change for the better will sometimes mean turning away from something that was more than good enough already. Women need to learn how to be satisfied with themselves. Women need to get past the idea that every day is a beauty contest and we’re all out there to be judged. Women need to help men get past that idea, too, somehow. It says equally bad things about them and what we think they want from us, if we let it continue.
What we really need is more practice and training on how to play up our strengths as human beings, not more books and videos about how to decorate our faces like art canvases. How to be friendly and fun without compromising intelligence and personality. How to remain firm and confident in the face of people who think that means we’re bitches. How to be assertive and persistent without coming across as a needy nagger. How to deal with anger in a way that doesn’t make people think we’re off-the-handle harpies. Maybe we also should have a course on how to ignore the men who talk to us like we aren’t equals and how to identify the ones who will.
I dunno. Maybe we just need to give men more credit. Maybe some men really would like women to quit doing this to themselves but they haven’t got the vocal majority, or the balls to speak up despite that. More honesty all around, I say. That’s what we need.
edit July 16/2010: have found a very interesting article about how sexism hurts men. It’s fantastic. It’s all about the double standard that men can’t tell women how to be in order to be dateable, but it’s okay to tell men and mock the poor sods? It should be a degrading habit in the minds of both sexes, yet seems to get a pass when it’s done to guys. Go have a look.