Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Really? That's What Makes You Beautiful?

Today I heard this song that I hated. The lyrics went like this: "You don't know you're beautiful. That's what makes you beautiful". Over and over again. I'm not sure who the recording artist is or what the name of the song is (I'm guessing it's "That's What Makes You Beautiful" or something equally inane), but if I find out I will make a conscious effort to never buy any music by that person/group. Because those lyrics disgust me. Here's why.

First of all, beautiful girls know that they're beautiful. Because contrary to popular opinion, beautiful girls are not all idiots.  They know that they are beautiful because they can tell by how they are treated by the world, and they have eyes in their heads and are surrounded by mirrors and cameras and the like, just like everybody else. Now, they may not ADMIT to knowing that they are beautiful. But that's a societal constraint, and has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. Our society expects women to be modest and self deprecating, and encourages women to view themselves with a certain amount of self loathing, so it would be social suicide in many circles for a woman to readily declare herself to be knowingly beautiful, on the outside. For crying out loud, you even hear supermodels complain about how "gangly" and "awkward" they are, when you know, they're obviously supermodels. It's not a job you go into if you actually are or think you are ugly.

The only exception I can think of is female R&B recording artists, many of whom have managed to step outside this societal constraint. There may be other pockets of resistance, but I'm not aware of them

But let's say that the woman in this song is some kind of rare mutation. Maybe she's blind, so she really doesn't know for sure if she's beautiful. Or maybe she has body dysmorphic disorder or something. WHY IS THE "NOT KNOWING" THE IMPORTANT FACTOR HERE? WHY IS THAT WHAT MAKES HER BEAUTIFUL?

Is the recording artist saying that a woman who acknowledges and celebrates her beauty is somehow less beautiful than the one who despises herself like a good girl? Why is being unaware of reality, and ignorant of your appearance appealing? Does this man perhaps want a woman with low self esteem, so he can be assured that she will never leave him for a man who writes better music? Does he feel intimidated by a woman who loves herself and is confident?

I think a lot of this mentality hearkens back to the notion that spending time on your looks, or caring about how you look somehow makes you shallow and stupid. Therefore the ideal woman is so pure and modest and self-effacing that she will literally have no idea that she is beautiful, because her mind and spirit are above such trivial things as "appearance" and "looks" and "beauty".

But guess what? No one is above it. No one is immune to beauty. As Palaniuk says "Beauty is power like money is power like a gun is power". Expecting women to be above and outside the influence of beauty is unrealistic and stupid. And trying to put women in these little boxes of false modesty - or perhaps real self hatred - is unhealty and wrong.

And so I say to you, Mr. Recording Artist - Grow a pair. If you can't handle a strong woman who is aware of her power and comfortable in her own skin, and you prefer a shrinking violet who needs YOU to tell her she's pretty, then you will get EXACTLY what you ask for. Which is a woman who needs you to tell her she's pretty - a lot. She will get clingy, and need reassurance from you - a lot. She will get jealous if you smile too much at the waitress. She will follow you home from work to make sure you're not stopping off at some other chick's house. She will cry and be insecure and needy - all the days of your life together. And you will get tired of her and dump her, and then bitch about how all women are crazy and psycho. And that will be the story of your love life.


  1. It's a terrible new boy band called One Direction. Love this post - so true!