If one is not naturally innocent or ‘pretty’, is it a good idea to aspire to project innocence? Also do women who look innocent (as opposed to ‘hot’) lead in any way, better or happier lives?
Take a look at this article (in block quotes below). My response in red).
The Death Of Pretty
This post is intended as a lament of sorts, a lament for something in the culture that is dying and may never been seen again.
Pretty, pretty is dying.
People will define pretty differently. For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.
Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence. I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is. But some things were different in the back then. First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue. And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.
There are reasons why women (or men) should not be under pressure to look or dress in ways that the rest of the world finds pleasing, innocent, confident, cool or modest etc.
By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact. That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.
Do you think a molester or a rapist would become protective because of the way a woman (or a child) is dressed? And should it matter to others how ‘innocent’ a woman looks if she is in need of help?
Also, if children look innocent, are they automatically safer?
And what if a woman is just not what is seen as ‘pretty’? Should her looks matter so much to her?
What if she is and looks capable of taking good care of herself? I know of women who have wished they looked dainty, skinny, helpless, ‘damsels in distress’, when they were confident, self-assured and could handle most life situations on their own. The article seems to imply that some women need to be protected by some men (who find them ‘pretty and helpless’), from other men who find them ‘hot’.
Should women have to depend on their looks for being respected? Shouldn’t the message be for the society to look beyond the looks instead?
Also consider, most women who accept these (western) standards of ‘pretty and respectable’ would be horrified if they walked on Indian streets wearing the clothing recommended here and realize they are actually considered hot and indecent here. And although Saudi Arabia believes in exactly the same thing, women dressed ‘pretty and respectable’ in the west would be flogged there.
Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different. When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.
As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.
A woman’s body has purpose other than how it looks to men – the legs that some people think should be shown just this much are actually meant to help her walk, run, jump, move, swim, dance, climb etc. I have blogged (here) about how easily the rest of the world gets used to seeing them or not seeing them. Keeping them covered forever can make even a glimpse of an ankle or a foot look ‘hot’. Why not let the world get used to legs being used for walking, instead of being used for projecting virtue, respectability or hotness?
Also, if ‘projecting’ pretty and virtuous earns respect and protective instincts, isn’t that commodification too? No different from what sales people are required to do – project a look to achieve a purpose . And what more could a woman want if not a man’s respect?
Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.” The stars of the fifties surely suffered from the same sin as do stars of today. Stars of the fifties weren’t ideal but they pursued a public ideal different from today.
The merits of hotness over pretty is easy enough to understand, they made an entire musical about it. Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease. Beautiful and innocent. But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy. In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty. What we are left with is hotness.
Hotness is a consumable. A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.
Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is. It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out.
Years of women’s liberation has not been able to fight this obsession with women’s hotness and prettiness, marriageability, virtuosity, respectability, all decided by how a woman is dressed. What it has achieved is, it has made it possible for women (and men) to question this demand on women to fit into stereotypes of pretty and respectable (Devi, modest) or hot (witches, vamps). It’s even made it possible for hot and respectability to go together.
Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did.
Women in many countries still ‘know better’ – they are not allowed to even expose their eyes because that makes them hot in men’s eyes.
Once upon a time you would hear girls talk about kind of women men date and the kind they marry. You don’t hear things like that anymore.
1. Now they understand that there is more to their lives then Getting Married and Staying Married.
2. Also, countries and societies where women can see no life beyond finding a man by proving their pretty and virtuous respectability, find themselves obsessing over their hotness in their husbands’ eyes, who they are warned might look for hotness elsewhere. Isn’t it better (for women) to not be so obsessed with what men think of their prettiness or hotness? Obedient Wives’ Clubs is a result of the insecurity a society’s obsession with a woman’s appearance creates.
But here is the real truth. Most men prefer pretty over hot. Even back in 6th grade I hated the “hot” Olivia Newton John and felt sorry for her that she had to debase herself in such a way. Still do.
Our problem is that society doesn’t value innocence anymore, real or imagined. Nobody aspires to innocence anymore. Nobody wants to be thought of as innocent, the good girl. They want to be hot, not pretty.
This talk of innocence reminds me of another article ‘Bikini vs Burka: The Debauchery of Women.‘ Please click to read how similar their views are. We have many in India who hold the same views but exactly what they permit is different.
I still hope that pretty comes back, although I think it not likely any time soon. For every Taylor Swift, there are a hundred Megan Foxs, or Lindsay Lohans, or Miley Cyruses etc.
Girls, please, bring back the pretty.
I wanted to call this post, ‘Honor by any other name. Control by many other names.’