Friday, January 20, 2012

The Death of Pretty?!

The Christian internet is a-rave with this article entitled "The Death of Pretty." Most of the women I know are in paroxysms about how wonderfully liberating it is. Finally, a man who is condemning the overt sexuality of women!


I submit that this article is worse even than overt sexualization. At least when men overtly reduce a woman to a sexual object, it is clear and easy for any third party to see. But this, this hoodwinks those women who escape the pressure of body hatred into eagerly reducing themselves to an object of another kind.

In many of the discussions on this article which I have participated in, women argue that this is a step in the right direction. At least he is lauding an inner quality, redefining beauty as something that comes from within.

I can see that point, except it's not true. When you read the article, it SEEMS true on the surface. But if you really look at what he is saying, he is actually redefining beauty as the illusion of innocence, innocence that is only skin deep. It is not an inner quality that he truly values. And, even if it were actual innocence, why does he value it? Because it inspires him to be better!

I think this is an iron fist in a silk glove. Sure, we can focus on the positive part of his article. We can talk about how great the silk looks and how soft it is. But in my mind, the silk is only a vehicle to disguise the objectification. He is still valuing women for their function for him, not for their innate personhood. He sees nothing about their strength, their sacrifice, their power. He doesn't find beauty in knowledge, in wisdom, but in innocence and ignorance. He lauds women who remain as children, not women who are full partners with men.

What difference does it make if you are an object to be consumed sexually or if you are an object to be consumed to supposedly make men more virtuous? What he is praising is nothing different than the old chivalrous models of women, re-emphasizing the virgin/whore dichotomy.

Sure, it's better in some ways to be seen as a saint than a harlot. But it is best of all to be seen as a person, to be accepted as a person, warts, wrinkles, occasional bad moods, and all.

Being seen as a saint only lasts as long as the man wants to see you that way. One mistake, and you fall off your pedestal. You are no longer "pretty," you are at best "hot," and because the change was due to your own failing, the man is then justified in using you however he wishes. Look at what happened to Guinevere. She had to cloister herself in order to escape the dire consequences of her objectification.

Believe me, I have experienced the entire poisoned cup of being seen as an object of virtue.

Now, rather than accepting the objectification of others, I value myself because I fought through a morass of lies and filth and emerged victorious, my faith and integrity intact. I value myself because I am strong, because I have learned to discern between truth and error. I value myself because my experiences have taught me more compassion and patience than bitterness and anger.

I am a woman who is willing to face the world alone if necessary, rather than allow herself to be objectified and used. But I am also a woman who is ready to give her mind, heart, and life to a man who is worthy of it, who will cherish and value it for what it is, and not for what he thinks it should be. A woman who loves life, and loves her friends and family with a burning passion. A woman who relies on God, who fights to accept the bad in life while embracing the good.

Wisdom, not some flimsy illusion of innocence, is true beauty.


  1. SR, you've hit the nail on the head. This quote from your linked article really got me:

    "Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did."

    This once again blames women for the fact that men find them attractive. His follow-on assertion that most men don't like hot women is equally preposterous. Just because in the sixth grade he didn't like Olivia Newton John... I half expected him to say something like "men like hot women, but they marry pretty ones."

    When we put another person on a pedestal, we can't be surprised when she (or he) falls off. Your prescription is spot on: "But it is best of all to be seen as a person, to be accepted as a person, warts, wrinkles, occasional bad moods, and all."

  2. Wow, what an awful article. You're right, it would be just as bad if he'd asked for less pretty and more slutty - either is a request to women to change themselves to suit -his- preferences.

  3. That says a lot on just how hard things are on women in our culture.

  4. Excellent post! Are you becoming a feminist or have you always been one?

  5. Excellent Post! And I couldn't agree more!!!

  6. Howard, neither.

    It doesn't take being a feminist to see idiocy when it slaps you in the face. :D

  7. Well said. And what is innocence, anyway? In my mind, it's a lack of experience. Some experiences come through choices, some through others' choices, and some through stuff that happens. You can't prevent experience, but you can learn from it. What's an innocent pretty girl supposed to do when hard things happen--let it break her fragile spirit or learn and grow from it?


Unfortunately, I've found it necessary to screen comments. Unless your comment violates the commenting policy, it will show up as soon as I can approve it.

Popular Posts