Feel Beautiful, You’re Allowed!

Really, this post is SEVERAL years in the making. I’ve thought about this concept over the years in different ways; the idea that a woman should be beautiful, but modesty and self doubt are imperative. After watching this video I finally decided to piece it all together.

I’m not a One Direction fan and that shouldn’t be too surprising, because N*Sync and Hanson for LIFE. But I especially dislike their song “What Makes You Beautiful.  The lyrics are contradictory;

“you’re insecure, don’t know what for.”

So, she’s a babe, but she seems to know not it. But like, she’s enough of a babe that she should totally know it, guys.

But then!

“You don’t know you’re beautiful; that’s what makes you beautiful!

It seems they’re saying “It’s actually really appealing to me that she doesn’t think she’s beautiful, because if she did that would be unattractive.”

What in the actual hell? What a strange paradox. Women for better or worse, are strongly judged on their appearance. We are expected to make efforts to look “beautiful” but we aren’t encouraged to
feel that way. And for the record, feeling attractive, and feeling confident aren’t the same as being stuck up, or full of yourself. Eh, but even then, what the hell is wrong with someone looking in the mirror, and feeling themselves? Beyonce had it right, y,all.

I vividly remember another situation where this discussion came up. I was in college and my boyfriend and I were discussing the hazing done by a particular sorority. I said I didn’t understand (and still don’t) how women are supposed to be sisters, and be a support system to one another, yet denigrate and verbally abuse their pledges. How does that yield something positive? I was explaining the things that I heard happened; fat circles, a group of women screaming and belittling a pledge. How does that foster sisterhood? “Well they don’t do that to everyone,” he said. “Just the girls that think they’re pretty and need to be taken down a peg.” I  didn’t think that was an acceptable answer, it was a pretty gross response, actually. “Well of course, because heaven forbid a girl think that she’s pretty. That MUST be stopped,” I snapped.  I don’t remember what his exact response was after that, but it certainly wasn’t satisfactory. Anyone know why? What is wrong with a woman feeling good about herself, specifically the way she looks?

So much of our media and advertising tells us we aren’t enough. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, etc. We could talk about statistics around advertising, self esteem, the billion dollar beauty industry blah, blah, but we’ve been through it and I don’t think its necessary. The point is, that model of advertising and sales depends on us feeling self conscious and questioning ourselves, about everything. In order for it to be effective, it requires us to look outwards for validation.

I think this trickles down with how we can relate to each other. I don’t by any means think this applies to everyone, indeed a lot of people think confidence is sexy. But some folks are clearly intimidated by a woman who doesn’t need your validation or permission to feel good about her appearance, or anyone else’s for that matter.  It seems like there is almost a script with this, and it can be uncomfortable  for some when someone doesn’t “play there part.” I discovered this scene from Inside Amy Schumer that spells out this dance in an over exaggerated, satirical way. CW for some ableist/racist comments

A few months ago, a woman began to chronicle her experiences exploring “breaking the script” in the often vapid world of online dating. What would happen if she just accepted the compliments? Predictably, they didn’t like it.

It’s not a surprise that in this climate, a lot of women feel uncomfortable accepting praise or compliments; as if we’re supposed to shake them off, or actively disqualify them with a dose of self denigration.This is something I’ve had to actively work on. My knee jerk reaction when someone complimented my appearance has always been to awkwardly shift around and say “Noooooo but thank you.” I’m trying to be conscious to just take the damn praise because hey, I do look good today! “Thanks!”

Obviously this isn’t everyone that does this, and if it were just a few fuckboys on Tinder it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it definitely seems pervasive enough to address. I think that can be done best within ourselves and by adjusting who we spend our time with. For myself, in addition to trying to be aware of how I am when accepting praise and compliments, I’ve also tried to give more compliments, because I know how awesome it feels when someone recognizes an outfit I’ve styled or a new hair color I’m trying. I think this has
been easier to do in part because I’ve consciously surrounded myself with a fierce group of amazing friends and we’re IMG_1096all incredibly, fiercely supportive of one another. Compliments and praise don’t need to be part of a script, and they shouldn’t require disqualification by the receiver, otherwise what is the point? Oh, and just avoid fuckboys at all costs (good advice for any scenario). Whether it’s a dudebro on Tinder who is bent out of shape because you merely said “thanks” when noting your babeliness, or really anyone else that acts weird when you simply accept a compliment, you don’t need them.

To sum up, can we please actively discourage the attitude that a woman should be unaware of her dime status for her to be likable? Can we stop treating self confidence as negative? I mean, what’s wrong with being confident?