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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

I Feel Pretty?

<heated. I feel cheated by society because as a woman, feeling comfortable with my physical appearance makes me seem vain. I was 14 years old when I first started to notice this phenomenon. I remember talking to some girls backstage while we were getting ready for a run-through of a play, and as they were applying makeup all they could talk about was how ugly they felt. Now, these girls were very pretty and I remember being shocked by their insecurities. All they could talk about were the things that didn’t make them pretty. Nose, butt, thighs, skin… It was fascinating because instead of trying to one-up each other in terms of beauty, these beautiful girls were all trying to one-up each other’s insecurities. It seemed like they felt that their beauty was determined by how insecure and “ugly” they felt they looked, because confidence is categorized as a male trait.

“Everyone else in the room can see it, everyone else but you…That’s what makes you beautiful.” This quote from the song “What Makes You Beautiful” by the boy band One Direction highlights the ridiculous fact that a beautiful women feeling insecure is considered more attractive than a beautiful women feeling confident. I understand that One Direction isn’t known for its intellectually driven lyrics, but often the least thought out messages in our society are the most destructive and restrictive. A perfect example of this rule is young adult fiction. I’m not going to lie, I used to love young adult fiction for the very reason I now abhor it. Although these novels may span genres, from historical fiction to fantasy to dystopian, they all contain a beautiful heroine who doesn’t realize how beautiful she is until the hero of the story tells her. I recently read a post from the blog The Belle Jar that made me realize the messed-up presence of this gender imbalance. The post title, “You Don’t Have To Be Pretty-On YA Fiction And Beauty As Priority” made the great point that “it’s a trope that’s been pretty widely covered throughout the genre — from Katniss Everdeen to Bella Swan to Hermione Granger to Mia Thermopolis, it seems like just about every heroine needs some convincing to realize how beautiful they are. Because, of course, they are beautiful — though often the character requires a makeover before she herself and the world around her (except, of course, for that One Special Boy Who Always Knew) realize her true beauty.” Now, although the other part of this post discusses how we need to value other traits such as intelligence over beauty in female characters, an idea that I fully support, I think we should also be comfortable having heroines in books that can comfortably say they feel attractive. However, this doesn’t mean that these heroines need to be presented as Victoria’s Secret Models. What I want is for heroines who look ordinary to feel beautiful and confident without any makeovers and without any men reassuring them. I want heroines to feel comfortable with their flaws and also comfortable with their beauty. I truly believe that all women have the right to acknowledge when they are feeling attractive, instead of hiding their confidence behind a veil of socially constructed insecurities.

I know I’m not the most attractive person on the planet. I have an off-centered nose and am pretty short, definitely not the ideal of feminine beauty. However, I’ve come to terms with how I look and can now say that I have no problem putting on a cute outfit and feeling attractive. No, I’m not vain. No, I’m not looking for a man to tell me I’m beautiful (although compliments never hurt). When I get dressed in the morning and look in the mirror, I actively pick out the features that I like, instead of those I don’t. When I walk to class, I hold my head up high, even if it may make me less approachable. No, I’m not vain, but if you think I am it must mean I’m doing something right. It must mean that I seem confident…and in my mind confidence is the most beautiful trait of all.


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