Saturday, April 12, 2014

Acting Men, Appearing Women.

"Men act and women appear."- John Berger

Why do we protect ugly men, but not ugly women? Before you jump at me with the whole "everyone is beautiful" thing, remember that beauty is subjective and dependent on personal taste. And so yes, everyone is beautiful, but what we as two completely separate people, reader, find beautiful is very, very different.

Anyways. When a man is less than the societal norm of attractive and someone points it out, there is always another person quick to step in and interject with qualities that make up for the fact he isn't as pretty as one might have wished. "Yeah, I know he's not super cute, but mylanta can he is so funny!" If a woman is less than the societal norm of attractive she isn't allowed qualities to make up for it, she is just ugly and the only thing to fix it is adding make-up or getting surgery or wearing a bag on her head.

And why? Why is this a thing? Why are men protected from being viewed as ugly in any circumstance while women are thrown under the ugly bus if their hair is wrong?

We could point fingers at the media, sending messages through television and movies that no matter what men look like, if their personality is good enough, or they fight hard enough, or they are a little less of an asshole they will end up with a girl, and not even just a girl, THE girl. But I don't think that is the whole problem. Because is we start blaming the media, we also have to pay attention to the fact that in most movies the men get awards and the women end up domesticated.

No, no. I think the problem goes far beyond media. We know that the men and women are viewed and why they are viewed differently is a mark of society as a whole and that most people blindly follow an example placed before them instead of questioning what they are doing and trying to make a change for the better, but where does that end? And how did it begin? Alexis Olmstead investigates.

The main problem is that from a young age women are taught that above all, we must be beautiful, we must be desirable, no one is going to want to be our friend, our boss, or our lover if we aren't good looking enough, because if we aren't pretty, then how will anyone know that we are also funny, and smart, and have other good traits about us? And I'm not just blowing smoke here. Studies have shown that women who are pretty are seen as having more good traits about them. If you read that whole article, you also read that women who are good looking are also more likely to conform, meaning that we, as a gender are referred to as ugly, there could be nothing wrong with us aesthetically, it could be that we refuse to blindly follow those who have gone on before us. But really, we, as a gender, cannot expect to still be considered funny, or smart, or kind if we are not what most people think of as pretty, we don't have that to fall back on. If one part of our self is seen as ugly, our entire being is then ugly.

But not men! If a man is less than 100% attractive he has a buffer, called his personality. I have never heard a guy make an excuse for dating someone his best friend thought was ugly by saying "yeah, but she has a great personality" but women do it all the time! And there is nothing wrong with that. People should date people for their personality, not for their looks. But there is something wrong with the fact that men can opt out of caring about their appearance because they aren't expected to wear make-up. And yeah, some of them may say they prefer girls who go natural and don't wear make-up, but their idea of natural beauty is still enhanced with cosmetics. Men aren't expected to have it together one hundred percent of the time, and in a world where Hilary Clinton is criticized in the news for not wearing make-up because it's "unprofessional", while her pudgy, red-faced, male-counterparts sit there and nothing is said about their appearance, this is painfully obvious.

Women we idolize are also adding to how men perceive us. Think about who is the most famous right now, and who appears in magazines. All of the women are runway ready most of the time. They workout, they go to the gym, they are always put together, and then the famous man bundle of today includes people like Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, and Will Ferrell. There is nothing wrong with any of these men, but they are famous and women are drooling all over them, yet they are ordinary looking dudes. In today's mainstream media, women have to be super models, men just have to be okay.

Here's the thing that I am realizing: pretty is being dumbed down. Pretty is ordinary and ordinary is ugly, in regards to women, that is. For men, ordinary is what does it for most people all across the board. Women are told consistently that they are never good enough so that they will buy in the billion dollar beauty industry and continue to do so for the rest of their lives. And just when women start to realize that they can be normal and still be considered pretty, someone or something, normally the patriarchy, finds a way to smack us right back down to where we were when we started and resign us to be the silent, passive beauties in the corner that history has resigned us to.

If a woman is ugly, she is going to be told she will go nowhere in life. And as (sadly) science has shown, she might not make it as far as a more attractive female. And if she does does become a higher up, people are going to think she is ugly and bossy anyways, so what's the point in fighting it? Nonconforming normal women, let's be ugly and proud, because no matter what, according to society, profoundly beautiful women will never be as good or deserving as ordinary men.

Alexis Olmstead is a part-time waitress and a full time diva living in sunny Okanogan County. She currently spends all of her time trying to memorize her lines so she will be off book when she is supposed to be. She is currently obsessing over Dancing With the Stars (go team M&M!) and attempting to write the perfect program bio. For more updates, check back every so often. 


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